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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Language Sciences

Postgraduate Course: Language Variation and Change MSc (LASC11141)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will approach the topic of language variation and change. The course content will focus on language internal factors on variation, as well as providing practical experience in doing quantitative variation analysis in R, which should prove useful for many students' dissertations.
Course description Just like every other area of linguistics you study, speakers' knowledge of linguistic variation is complex, and structured. In this course, you'll learn about how quantitative probabilities can be combined with linguistic theories in order to understand language variation, with a focus on language internal factors.

Specifically you will learn
- how researchers model linguistic variation using variable rules,
- the basics of how probabilities are calculated and combined,
- how to use the statistical package R to do these analyses.

Each week will consist of 2 hours of lectures or student presentations, and 1 hour of R practicals.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 10%: Completion of Practical Exercises

20%: 1 hour in-class exam in week 6

70%: Final project essay (3,000 words)
Feedback Mandatory one-on-one meetings scheduled during Week 5 and Innovative Learning week to discuss students' final project plans.

Recommended follow-up meetings during weeks 9 and 10.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. develop an understanding of the continuing development of variation theory
  2. acquire a basic understanding of probability theory, and how it can be applied to linguistic phenomena
  3. acquire foundational understanding of how language internal factors on variation can be accounted for within linguistic theory
  4. load, organise, summarise and visualise data using R
  5. apply these aspects of variation theory and method to a phenomenon of their own choosing
Reading List
Labov, W. (1989). The child as linguistic historian. Language Variation and Change, 1, 85:97.

Cedergren, H. J., & Sankoff, D. (1974). Variable Rules: Performance as a Statistical Reflection of Competence. Language, 50(2), 333:355.

Guy, G. (1991). Explanation in variable phonology: An exponential model of morphological constraints. Language Variation and Change, 3(1), 1:22.

Patrick, P. L. (1991). Creoles at the intersection of variable processes: -t , d deletion and past-marking in the Jamaican mesolect. Language Variation and Change, 3(2), 171:189.

Guy, G., & Boyd, S. (1990). The development of a morphological class. Language Variation and Change, 2, 1:18

Coetzee, A. W., & Pater, J. (2011). The Place of Variation in Phonological Theory. In Goldsmith, J. Riggle, & A. C. L. Yu (Eds.), The Handbook of Phonological Theory (2nd ed., pp. 401:434). Blackwell.

Bybee, J. (2002). Word frequency and context of use in the lexical diffusion of phonetically conditioned sound change. Language Variation and Change, 14, 261:290.

MacKenzie, L. (2013). Variation in English auxiliary realization: A new take on contraction. Language Variation and Change, 25(01), 17:41.

Turton, D. (2013). The Darkening of English /l/: a Stochastic Stratal OT Analysis.

Kroch, A. (1989). Reflexes of grammar in patterns of language change. Language Variation and Change, 1(3), 199:244
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Application of linguistic theory to the phenomenon of linguistic variation
- Execution of a research project
- Development of quantitative reasoning skills
- Practical experience in using R
Keywordslanguage variation,language change,linguistic variation
Course organiserDr Josef Fruehwald
Tel: (0131 6)50 3983
Course secretaryMiss Toni Noble
Tel: (0131 6)51 3188
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