Linguistics 001

LING001: Introduction to Linguistics

A general introduction to the nature, history and use of human language, speech and writing.

Topics include:

  • the biological basis of human language and other animal communication systems
  • relations of language to cognition, communication,  and social organization
  • computational models of speech, language and communication
  • sounds, forms and meanings in the world's languages
  • the reconstruction of linguistic history  and the "family tree'' of languages
  • dialect variation and language standardization
  • language and gender
  • language  learning by children and adults
  • the neurology of language and language disorders
  • the nature and history of writing  systems
  • prosody: the "melody and measure of speech"

Audience: Any Penn undergraduate interested in language or its use.

Although intended for a general audience, this course is also recommended as an introduction for students who plan to major in linguistics.

Prerequisites: None.

Reading: All course readings will be made available in web-accessible digital form, linked to the schedule of lectures and readings.

Course Structure:

This course normally consists of two one-hour lectures and one one-hour recitation session per week.  Because off Penn's policies in response to the on-going pandemic, the Fall 2020 edition will be entirely virtual. The currrent plan is that (virtual) lectures will take place at the scheduled times, but will be recorded for later access; virtual recitations will take place at the scheduled times; virtual offfice hours will be established. We will experiment with other forms of virtual interaction.

There will be six homework assignments and a final project. Normally there are two midterms, but given the issues with remote exams, these will be replaced by a research paper (different from the final project -- detais to be supplied later ). 

For more information about course structure, grading, and so forth, see the lecture notes for the introductory session.

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