Linguistics 300, F08, Linguistics tutorial

Course description

Goal and methods

The goal of the linguistics tutorial is to give undergraduate majors in linguistics sustained hands-on experience with linguistic research. The character of the class resembles a cross between a lab and a seminar, leaning more towards the lab side.

We investigate two topics in depth, spending approximately equal amounts of time on each. In keeping with the research strengths of the Penn linguistics department, special attention is devoted to analyzing corpus data (particularly online corpora) with computational and quantitative methods.

A useful way to think of this class is as a potluck dinner. Most college classes are either like ordering dinner by yourself in a restaurant or making dinner for yourself at home. In the one case, someone else does the cooking for you; in the other case, you're the cook. In both cases, though, you're the only one affected by the quality of the dish. This class is different in that in at least some assignments, you are expected to each make a contribution to a collection of data that you will then all investigate. Just as a potluck dinner party depends on everyone showing up with a tasty dish in time for the party, the success of this class depends on everyone pitching in on these potluck-style assignments in a competent and timely way.

Academic requirements

Your grade will depend on completing several assignments - roughly one a week.

There are three types of assignments in the class:

Example grade sheet

Technical requirements

Much of the work for this class will be done in class on your own laptop. If you don't have a laptop of your own, there are two laptops available from Bennett 232.

You will need AirPennNet on your laptop in order to use the wireless network in the classroom. Please make sure that you have the most recent version installed.

You will need to connect to your account on the linguistics server (babel), which we will create for you. If you use a PC, you'll need SecureCRT. If you use a Mac, you should be able to use Terminal to connect. If for some reason Terminal fails, use DataComet. Both SecureCRT and DataComet are available for free from

Finally, you'll need a spreadsheet program, such as Excel, the Open Office spreadsheet program, or NeoOffice (for Mac users).


Given the goal of the class, the class does not focus on readings from the literature. Nevertheless, as the occasion arises, you may be expected to assimilate results of other researchers' work as it is presented in the primary literature of the field. I will make any such readings available online.

Guidelines for assignments


Content and style

Academic integrity

As with any other class, the work you do for the tutorial is subject to Penn's Code of Academic Integrity.

If I have reason to believe that your behavior is violating this code, I will contact the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) to initiate an investigation. If the investigation finds that you have violated the Code of Academic Integrity, you will fail the class. You may be able to retake the class, but as far as I know, the grade you receive on the retake will not replace the original F.