Courses WS 2012/13
Language and Cognition [Tu 12-14]
Statistics for Linguists [Tu 16-18]
Colloquium [Tu 18-20]
Course Descriptions and Course Evalutions
Principles of Language Change
The seminar is concerned with the linguistic mechanisms of language change, the sociolinguistic aspects of language change, and the implications of language change for linguistic theory. The first part of the seminar provides an overview of typical patterns of language change in phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. The second part of the seminar concentrates on theoretical issues: the social and psychological mechanisms involved in language change, the relationship between language variation and language change, the role of language contact, grammaticalization, creolization, and the invisible hand theory.
Introduction to Linguistics: Morphosyntax
The course provides an introduction to the study of English morphosyntax. The following topics will be discussed: parts-of-speech, phrase structure, grammatical relations, tense and aspect, definiteness, infinitival and participial constructions, subordination, coordination, sentence types, word formation. The course does not presuppose any background knowledge in morphosyntax and will give students the opportunity to analyze the structure of concrete linguistic data.
Language and Cognition
The lecture is concerned with the cognitive foundations of language and is closely related to some of the seminars that are regularly taught at the FSU Jena in English linguistics: Topics include: (i) the structure of human categories and their expression in language, (ii) the cognitive principles of language acquisition, (iii) the cognitive principles of diachronic change, (iv) the conceptual basis of linguistic structure, (v) functional and cognitive motivations for language universals.
Linguistic Typology and Language UniversalsHuman languages, especially those spoken by members of unfamiliar and distant cultures, appear on the surface to be very different from one another. But closer examination reveals that languages differ in systematic ways and that they can often be divided into a relatively small number of basic types. In this course we will identify and study some of these basic patterns and consider the English language from a cross-linguistic point of view. Further, we will explore possible reasons for the existence of language types and linguistic universals, seeking explanations where possible in the communicative function of language as well as in the historical evolution of languages.
Language Development: MethodsThe course provides an introduction to basic research methods in first and second language acquisition. Students will have the opportunity to work with transcripts of computerized child language data from the CHILDES database (http://childes.psy.cmu.edu/) and will learn how to design a questionnaire for studying L2 acquisition. The focus of the course is on methodological issues, i.e. data collection and data analysis; theoretical issues of L1 and L2 acquisition will be addressed in the complementary class ‘Language Development – Theory’ (Friday 10:15 - 11:45). MA students are expected to attend both parts of the module (i.e. ‘Language Development – Methods’ and ‘Language Development – Theory’). Students of the teacher training program do not have to attend the theory part of the module (i.e. the Friday class); but if they attend the current class without any prior knowledge of L1 and/or L2 acquisition, they should be prepared to do some additional reading (or else attend the Friday class).
Language Development: TheoryThe class provides an overview of research on first and second language acquisition. In the first part of the course we will discuss some seminal research on the emergence of children’s early words and early multi-word utterances and will consider different theoretical approaches to the study of child language acquisition. In the second part of the course we will focus on aspects of second language acquisition and will consider the differences and similarities between L1 and L2 acquisition. MA students are expected to attend this class together with the class ‘Language Development – Methods’ (Thursday 12:15 -13:45). Students of the teacher training program are also welcome to attend the methods class on Thursday (especially if they want to get some hands-on experience with empirical research on first and/or second language acquisition); but for them the attendance of the methods class on Thursday is not obligatory.
Statistics for Linguistics
The class is concerned with methodological and statistical issues in linguistics: design of an empirical research paper, description and presentation of frequency data, experimental design, hypothesis testing, correlational analysis. Students will be introduced to a statistical software package (SPSS) and will have the opportunity to apply the learned methods to concrete linguistic data.
Contrastive Linguistics: English-German
Given that English and German are historically closely related, their grammars are surprisingly different. In this seminar, we will take a close look at the major differences between English and German grammar. Some of the topics to be discussed in this class include the marking of grammatical relations, tense and aspect, relative clauses, infinitival constructions, word order, word formation, and contrastive phonology. It is the goal of the course to make students aware of the differences between English and German grammar and to introduce them to functional-cognitive explanations in the study of morphosyntax.
Empirical Methods of Linguistic Research
The seminar is concerned with methodological and statistical issues in linguistics: basic design of experimental and questionnaire studies, description and presentation of frequency data, basic methodological issues of observational studies, and basic statistical methods (descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, correlational analysis). Students will be introduced to a statistical software package (SPSS) and will have the opportunity to apply the learned methods to concrete linguistic data. Requirements: homework assignments, final exam, (short) empirical research paper.
Quantitative methods for analyzing linguistic data
The seminar provides a practical introduction into the analysis of linguistic data. Students will learn how to analyse different types of quantitative data and how to use an electronic database. The seminar will focus on methods for the description and presentation of linguistic data and does not presuppose any background knowledge in quantitative data analysis or linguistic theory. The course involves extensive exercises providing students with the opportunity to practice their learned skills.
Cognitive linguistics is concerned with the relationship between linguistic and conceptual structure. One of the central tenets of cognitive linguistics is that language reflects the way we categorize and conceptualize the world. The course introduces to central topics of the field. We will consider different theories of categorization; we will see that metaphors play an important role in the organization of grammar and that metaphorical thinking is essential to human cognition; we will consider the linguistic structuring of space, time and causation; and we will discuss the Sapir-Whorf-hypothesis, which holds that linguistic structure determines the way we see the world.
Formal and Functional Approaches to the Study of LanguageThe seminar is concerned with the two major approaches to the study of grammar: The formal approach, in which linguistic structures are independent of their functions and meanings; and the functional approach, in which linguistics structures are motivated by functional and cognitive forces. The first part of the course provides an introduction to formal theories of grammar. In particular, we will consider the basic principles of generative grammar and its major developments since Chomsky’s early writings. The second part of the course is concerned with various functional-cognitive approaches to the study grammar, notably with construction grammar, and considers the basic differences between the two approaches.
Second Language AcquisitionThe course provides an introduction to the field of second language acquisition concentrating on theoretical and methodological issues (i.e. this is not a class on language teaching or language pedagogy). Taking a functional-cognitive approach, we will look at the development of grammatical and lexical phenomena and consider their implications for a general theory of language. In addition, the course provides an introduction to some of the main methods in L2 research, providing students with the opportunity to conduct an empirical investigation of a particular research topic.
History of the English Language
The lecture provides an overview of the history of the English language from its earliest known Indo-European ancestry, through its most profound developments in the Old English, Middle English, and Early Modern English periods, to recent changes in Modern English. The lecture is concerned with both the socio-economic factors that affected the development of the English language and the most important linguistic changes that occurred since the Anglo-Saxons came to Britain. In addition, we will talk about some general principles of language change.