Module QXL-4411:
Foundations of Linguistics

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Alan Wallington

Overall aims and purpose

This module provides an overview of the discipline of language science. In particular, it covers key disciplines, ideas, terms and methodologies in the study of natural language and to some of the tools required for language analysis. The module provides broad overview of a range of topics in the study of natural language, as well as laying the foundations for the study of core areas of linguistics, including phonetics, phonology (sounds systems), morphology (word structure), syntax (sentence structure), semantics (word and sentence meaning) and pragmatics (meaning in context) and how these areas, domains and various disciplines interact. The language used for the purposes of exemplification in this module is primarily English, although other languages will be referred to.

Aims:

• To enhance students’ understanding of the scientific approach to language description.
• To enhance students’ appreciation of theoretical and empirical issues, and controversies concerning the study of language.
• To give students practical skills and experience with dealing with language data.
• To give students a firm grounding in phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics. • To review the core components of the mental grammar with respect to word formation and structure.

Course content

Lectures are organized into six units (i.e. phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics) which introduce students to the study of how sounds, words and sentences are made, produced, comprehended, categorized and understood in human languages and theoretically discussed and paradigmatically presented/ described in the field of modern linguistics. In terms of phonetics it will concentrate on some of the general principles involved in speech production and how to articulate and transcribe the sounds in the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) chart. Secondly, with respect to phonology it will look at how sound systems are structured (alternations and phonotactics) and how speakers’ phonological knowledge can be described and represented. Thirdly, with respect to morphology, it will provide students with the core descriptive terminology and with some of the analytical tools and diagramming techniques that are used in the investigation of morphology (the structure of words) and it will also make students aware of some of the main theoretical differences that currently underlie studies of morphology (word level grammar). For syntax this unit will provide students with the core descriptive terminology and with some of the analytical tools and diagramming techniques that are used in the investigation of the structure of sentences, different types of sentence constructions / functions and it will also make students aware of some of the main theoretical differences that currently underlie studies of sentence level grammar. With respect to semantics. This unit will explore the nature of human language and how linguists categorise and examine it, how meaning is created and expressed. The unit will first examine words and concepts, including how words and concepts relate to each other via relations such as synonymy, antonymy, hyponymy, ambiguity, implication, factivity, aspect, and modality. Secondly the unit will examine sentence meaning and relations between sentences such as entailment and contradiction. Finally, the pragmatics unit will examine the role of context with respect to how people make sense of each other linguistically. The topics covered will include the following; examining the interface between semantics, and pragmatics, deixis, presupposition, conversational implicature, speech acts and speech act classification, politeness.The module will take a broadly consensual perspective, but will address, where relevant, controversies and points of contention in the study of language. The module will provide hands on training in conducting linguistic analysis of language data.

The following topics will be covered:

  1. Phonetics
  2. Phonology
  3. Morphology
  4. Syntax
  5. Semantics
  6. Pragmatics

Assessment Criteria

threshold

C (50%):
The answer must address the question.
The answer must show a basic knowledge and understanding of the relevant key areas and principles of the foundational theories, constructs and methodologies of Linguistics.
The student must show evidence of being able to apply the principles to the analysis of language and linguistic examples and/or data.
The answer must show evidence of some background study.

good

B:
The answer must be focussed and structured.
The answer must show a better-than-average standard of knowledge and understanding of the foundational theories, constructs and methodologies of Linguistics.
The linguistic examples used in the answer may be based upon examples from the literature but must also include original examples.
The answer must show evidence of background study with at least some from primary sources.

excellent

A:
The answer must be highly focused and well-structured, free from irrelevant material and errors of spelling and punctuation. The answer must show comprehensive knowledge and detailed understanding, and demonstrate the ability to apply concepts clearly, accurately and in depth. The answer must show advanced ability in all of the learning outcomes.
The answer must show substantial evidence of detailed interpretation and critical thinking, and the ability to make new links between topics and/or a new approach to a problem.
The answer must show evidence of extensive background study beyond basic texts.

Learning outcomes

  1. Students will be able to analyse language data for semantic content, functions and relationships

  2. Students will be able to recognise and identify different sounds, and to begin to transcribe them using the International Phonetic Alphabet chart.

  3. Students will be able to describe the properties of sounds, and understand how these properties affect the way sounds behave.

  4. Students will know and understand the types of phonological processes that languages employ, using examples from varieties of English and other languages.

  5. Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the key terminology, concepts and techniques used in morphological analysis.

  6. Students will know and understand the main issues, concerns and controversies in the study of word level grammar, sound and use in the language sciences.

  7. Students will be able to analyse morphological data.

  8. Students will understand the main or core / principal phenomena studied studied by language scientists working in the sub-fields of semantic and pragmatics.

  9. Students will understand the main theoretical constructs used for the analysis of grammar at the sentence level.

  10. Students will know and understand the main issues, concerns and controversies in the study of sentence level grammar, word level meaning and context level meaning in the language sciences.

  11. Students will understand the main or core / principal phenomena in the field of morphology.

  12. Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of key terminology, concepts and techniques for the semantic and pragmatic analysis of language.

  13. Students will understand the main or core / principal phenomena in the field of syntax.

  14. Students will know the key terminology, concepts and techniques used on the analysis of syntax.

  15. Students will be able to analyse syntactical data.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Written assignment, including essay Take home Semantics, Pragmatics exercise 15
Written assignment, including essay Take home Phonetics, Phonology, Morpholpogy and Syntax 30
Written assignment, including essay End of module assignment: Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, Semantics and Pragmatics 55

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Lecture

Twelve 2 hour lectures - the module is divided into 6 units. Each unit will have two 2 hour lectures. In addition there will be a summary 1 hour lecture at the end of the module.

25
Private study

In their own time, students will be expected to do further reading, go through materials covered in class and do further research on the topics, and prepare assignments.

134
Seminar

Six 1 hour practicals/seminars. Each of the six units will have a 1 hour practical/seminar.

6
Private study

Directed Reading - students are given required reading each week (of about 3 hours) on the topic of that week's lecture.

33
Tutorial

Students are encouraged to see the lecturer on a one-to-one basis during published office hours (or by appointment) to discuss issues with the module content, seek clarification on topics and discussions, and discuss feedback on assessments and class exercises.

2

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Writing & scholarly conventions - students will be able to present data, argumentation, findings and references in written form in keeping with the conventions current in language science and English language studies to an advanced standard.
  • Analysis & interpretation skills - students will be able to analyse and interpret data accurately and to draw appropriate conclusions based on the application of appropriate analytic and theoretical frameworks available in linguistics and English language studies.
  • Evaluation & reflection - students will be able to critically evaluate to an advanced standard a particular position, viewpoint or argument in relation to a specific area of investigation. They will be able to reflect on the efficacy of a particular approach, practice or performance, and moderate these as a consequence in order to achieve specific goals.
  • Awareness of and appreciation for linguistic and cultural differences - students will develop an awareness of and an appreciation for the range and nature of linguistic and cultural diversity.
  • Knowledge of linguistic theory and application - students will demonstrate a detailed knowledge of terms, issues, principles, aspects and best practices related to the study of human language and linguistics.
  • Understanding of the nature and organisation of language - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge of observations and findings relating to various aspects of linguistic phenomena and organization.
  • Understanding the nature of commonalities and differences across languages - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge of phenomena and findings relating to universals and diversity exhibited by and across languages.
  • Knowledge of the relationship between language and society, culture, and/or embodied experience - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge of phenomena and findings relating to the complex interdependent relationship between language, society culture and/or embodied experience.
  • Knowledge of the relationship between language and mind/brain - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge of phenomena and findings relating to the complex interdependent relationship between language and mind/brain.
  • Knowledge of the nature of language origins, change and use - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge phenomena and findings relating to the nature of language origins, the way language changes, and factors involved in and affecting language use.

Resources

Resource implications for students

None

Talis Reading list

http://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/qxl-4411.html

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: