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Introduction to Linguistics

Language is a central part of our daily lives. It is how we communicate our thoughts and desires to others – be it our ideas for world peace or what we want for lunch. Yet, we usually take language for granted, using it effortlessly without stopping to think about how it works. So, what exactly is language, and how does it work?

This course is an introduction to linguistics, the scientific study of language. In order to understand what language is, a number of topics are examined, including:

  • The sound system of language (phonetics and phonology)
  • The structure of words and sentences (morphology and syntax)
  • The meaning of words and sentences (semantics)
  • How language is produced and understood (psycholinguistics)
  • How language is represented in the brain (neurolinguistics)
  • How children learn language (language acquisition)
  • How language can differ across time, between speakers, regions, and situations

While language is highly complex, it is also systematic and rule-governed. At the end of this course, you should understand what linguists study and have a good understanding of the core concepts in each of the above topics.

Course Formats

The course generally comes in two formats:

  • One large lecture section meeting MW with smaller weekly TA sessions on Friday
  • One small lecture section meeting TTH

If you are enrolled in a particular section, please contact your instructor with any questions.