Linguistics 001     Lecture 1


The goal of Linguistics 001 is to offer a  broad, self-contained introduction to all aspects of language and linguistics, suitable for undergraduates with a wide range of backgrounds and interests. General information about course content is available from a  brief description . Details can be gotten from the schedule and the lecture notes that are linked to it.

Fall 2001 is the sixth time that this course has been given. Enrollment grew from 35 in the fall of 1997 to 121 in the fall of 2000, with more than 200 students attempting to enroll in that term. Because of this increased demand, the course was given in the spring of 2001, and will be offered in both fall and spring terms henceforth.

Each year, we've tried to adjust the course's form and content to reflect what we've learned in teaching it. Your comments and suggestions about this fall's effort will be welcomed.

Although it is not currently a prerequisite for other courses in  linguistics at Penn , Linguistics 001 will prepare you to get more out of other language-related courses you take in the future, and will give you a broader perspective on courses you may have taken in the past.  Here is a link to available home pages of other Penn linguistics courses.  Here is the complete list of Penn linguistics courses  , and here is the list of undergraduate linguistics courses offered this fall.

In addition to formal course work in linguistics at Penn, there are often opportunities for independent studies, research projects, and even paying research-related jobs. Contact the instructors for further information if you are interested

Course Structure 

There are two lectures a week, Monday and Wednesday 12:00-1:00.

Each student should also participate in one recitation section each week. This term, there are seven recitation sections. The purpose of the recitation sections is to provide students with a forum for discussion and an opportunity to ask questions about lectures, readings, homework and exams.

We can be reached by email, either to answer questions directly or to set up individual appointments: Mark Liberman, Eva Banik, Uri Horesh, Tsan-Kuang Lee.

There will be a midterm and a final exam. Since the designated time for the final exam is so late in the holiday season, the final will be take-home.

This semester, for the first time, there will also be a term project, involving the linguistic analysis of a speech recording, such as a conversation, political speech, sermon or joke. A set of recordings will be made available in digital form, and students may also (with permission) use a recording of their choice. This project will be due at the end of the semester.



The midterm, final exam and term project will each count for 20% of your grade. Homework exercises will count for another 30%. The final 10% will depend on class participation (mainly in your recitation section).

Note that homework is a significant part of your grade. Each year, a few students fail to turn in some or all homework assignments, and are then taken aback by the effect.

Here is the distribution of raw numerical grades amoung the 55 students in the 1998 version of the course. These were turned into letter grades in a conventional fashion, so that 80-83.3 was B-, 83.3-86.7 was B, 86.7-90 was B+, and so on. Thus nine students got a B-, etc. Grades over 100 were possible because of extra credit on exams and some homework assignments.

There are no guarantees that this particular distribution of grades will obtain -- the course is not "graded on the curve" -- but a distribution like this one has been typical.

The Text 

The text this semester is The Science of Words, by George Miller.

Other introductory linguistics books include: 
The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker
Introduction to Language by Fromkin and Rodman
Contemporary Linguistics  by Aronoff;
Linguistics  by Akmajian, Demers, Farmer and Harnish; and
An Invitation to Cognitive Science: Language  by Gleitman and Liberman.

The Digital Dimension 

We will sometimes use the course email list to announce changes in assignments, or to let you know about special course-related events.

The course web site and its links are important!  The most important page is the schedule , which will tell you what topics will be discussed in each lecture, and what pages in the text should be read when. It also will contain links to the lecture notes for the course.

A lot of necessary material, including lecture notes and some readings, will only be available through the web. While you are of course welcome to print these pages out if you want, we will not normally print them out for you. Some of the pages will be interactive, and therefore not printable.

"How much of this stuff will be on the exam?"

The course text is full of information, and the on-line lecture notes have a lot of links, which have a lot of links, which have a lot of links . . .

Relax! We don't expect you to memorize unlimited amounts of detailed material. We do expect that you will read and understand the course text and the on-line lecture notes, that you'll pay attention during lectures (where some additional material will be presented), and that you'll master the ideas and skills featured in the homework assignments.

If you do this, then you should be adequately prepared for the midterm and the final, for which we will also provide study guides.

Of course, you'll get more out of the course if you learn more than exactly what will be tested on the exams, and a good way to do this is to follow hyperlinks and other references to a greater depth, whether on the web or in the library. The exams, especially the final, will probably give you an opportunity to display some of some of this extra knowledge to your advantage.






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