12:30 PM to 01:20 PM MW
David King Hall 2053
Section Information for Spring 2020
What do we know when we know a language? As a speaker of English, you unconsciously know how to order words in a sentence to convey a particular meaning and how to change that meaning with seemingly subtle changes in pitch; you can appropriately modify your speech for different social situations and can understand and create novel sentences you've never heard before. As the science of language, linguistics delves into this implicit linguistic knowledge.
This course introduces students to the methods and theoretical principles used by linguists for accessing speakers' implicit linguistic knowledge. Drawing on data from English and many other languages of the world, we will study processes of word formation (morphology), sentence structure (syntax), and the relation between these structures and the construction of meaning (semantics). We will investigate the sounds of language, how they are produced and perceived (phonetics), and how they pattern into syllables and words (phonology). We will also examine the rich variation of language and its impact on our social identity, language disorders (particularly those caused by brain trauma), how language changes and evolves over time, and how language is learned. Our goal is to understand the properties shared by all languages as well as the ways in which languages can differ from each other, with the broader aim of understanding the formal structure of human language – how language "works".
This course fulfills a Mason Core requirement for the Social/Behavioral Sciences with the following learning outcomes.
Accordingly, the students in this course will study the theoretical principles of linguistics, apply linguistic analysis to empirical data, and develop awareness about language – a uniquely human ability and a great social construct.
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