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 2003 is the tenth 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, we now offer the course in both fall and spring terms.

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 six 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.

The instructor and TAs can be reached by email, either to answer questions directly or to set up individual appointments: Mark Liberman, Yoon-Kyoung Joh, John Laury, Marjorie Pak.

There will be about seven homework assignments, a midterm, a term project, and a final exam. Several of the homeworks will be designed to get students started on their term project.



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.


Although all readings for this course will be made available on line, there are many good introductory linguistics books, which you might want to borrow from the library or buy to have your own copy. A few that I can recommend are:

The Science of Words, by George Miller
The Power of Babel, by John McWhorter
The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker
Introduction to Language by Fromkin and Rodman
Contemporary Linguistics  by Aronoff et al.
Linguistics  by Akmajian, Demers, Farmer and Harnish
An Invitation to Cognitive Science: Language  by Gleitman and Liberman.







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