LING 490: Generative Phonology

LING 490-DL1: Generative Phonology
(Fall 2020)

04:30 PM to 07:10 PM T


View in the schedule of classes

Section Information for Fall 2020

"In practice, the analysis of phonological universals turns out to be a rather simple-minded and blunt enterprise."
(Steiner, George. 1975. After Babel . London: Oxford University Press. pg. 96.)

The above quote typifies the viewpoint of someone who is not even marginally aware of generative grammar and current phonological theory. In this class we will challenge this viewpoint and discover that phonological theory is an exciting and dynamic field of study. The search for phonological universals provides us with important insights not just about the human mouth, but also about the human mind.

The world is full of sounds, and we use just a small subset of these for human language. But even though different languages like English and Zulu and Chinese use different sets of sounds, they share many more sound patterns than what we may first believe. This course is an introduction to the theoretical study of sound systems. The focus of the class is on the analysis of phonological data within a linguistically principled framework. Students will practice solving phonological problems from a wide variety of languages. We will explore the nature of this shared knowledge that all humans have about their language sound systems.

Course Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a thorough understanding of phonological theory: how we make language sounds, and how we use language sounds

2. Demonstrate the ability systematically deal with linguistic data from a variety of human languages and formulate concise phonological generalizations.

3. Identify and describe phonological language universals shared by all human languages.

4. Work collaboratively on a semester-long project detailing a chosen human language phonological system.


LING 490 DL1 is a distance education section taught synchronously. Students should expect to be online during the days and times scheduled.

Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Sound systems of English and other languages from perspectives of phonological theory. Topics include articulatory phonetics, distinctive features, nature of phonological representations, rhythm and stress, and phonological universals and constraints. Limited to three attempts.
Recommended Prerequisite: LING 306.
Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.