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

Postgraduate Course: History of Linguistics (LASC11129)

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
SummaryThe history of enquiry into language as practised within the discipline of linguistics, with due attention to relevant epistemological and methodological issues.
Course description Linguistics as an institutionalised discipline can look back on a history of around two hundred years. In this relatively short time span the discipline has played host to a variety of conceptions of human language and different approaches to its study. This course surveys key ideas that have shaped linguistics as a discipline and the debates surrounding them. The aim is to understand the background of linguistics as currently practised, along with how it has come to be situated where it is with respect to related sciences. The course is structured around the question of how linguists have responded to the diversity of the world¿s languages.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 18, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 178 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One 3500-word essay (100%)
Feedback Part of one lecture session is devoted to preparing for the course assessment, and students are encouraged as well to attend the Friday session, in which, following the class examination at the end of Week 5, issues arising from the results are discussed, highlighting particular strengths exhibited, along with misunderstandings or argumentative shortcomings, with an explanation of how to avoid them and attain the best possible results in the essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. understanding the background of modern linguistic research
  2. gain a deeper perspective on relevant epistemological issues
  3. situate theoretical approaches in their historical context
  4. contrast and reconcile a wide range of approaches to language
  5. nderstanding current linguistic approaches via how they evolved and gain a critical sense of how to deploy historical evidence and argument
Reading List
Allan, Keith, ed. 2016. Routledge Handbook of Linguistics. London: Routledge.

Chomsky, Noam. 1959. Review of Verbal Behavior by B.F. Skinner, Language 35, 26-38.

Everett, Daniel L. 2005. 'Cultural constraints on grammar and cognition in Pirahã: another look at the design features of human language', Current Anthropology 46.4, 621-646.

Gabelentz, Georg von der. Forthcoming 2018 [1894]. 'Typology : a new task of linguistics', History and Philosophy of the Language Sciences, James McElvenny, trans.

Humboldt, Wilhelm von. 1988 [1836]. On Language: the diversity of human language-structure and its influence on the mental development of mankind, Peter Heath, trans. Camrbidge: Cambridge University Press.

Joseph, John E. & Frederick J. Newmeyer. 2012. 'All languages are equally complex': the rise and fall of a consensus', Historiographia Linguistica 39.2/3, 341-368.

Joseph, John E., Nigel Love & Talbot J. Taylor. 2001. Landmarks in Linguistic Thought II: the Western tradition in the twentieth century. London: Routledge.

Klautke, Egbert. 2013. The Mind of the Nation: Völkerpsychologie in Germany, 1851:1955. Oxford: Berghahn.

Koerner, E.F. Konrad. 1989. Practicing Linguistic Historiography. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Koerner, E.F. Konrad. 2008. 'Hermann Paul and general linguistic theory', Language Sciences 30, 102-132.

Matthews, Peter H. 1993. Grammatical theory in the United States from Bloomfield to Chomsky. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McElvenny, James. 2017. 'Linguistic aesthetics from the nineteenth to the twentieth century: the case of Otto Jespersen's 'Progress in Language', History of Humanities 2.2, 417-442.

McElvenny, James. Forthcoming 2018. 'August Schleicher and materialism in 19th-century linguistics', Historiographia Linguistica 45.1.

Morpurgo Davies, Anna. 1998. History of Linguistics: nineteenth-century linguistics. London: Longman.

Mueller-Vollmer, Kurt & Markus Messling. 2017. 'Wilhelm von Humboldt', in Edward N. Zalta, ed., Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2017 Edition) [].

Nerlich, Brigitte & David D. Clarke. 1996. Language, Action, and Context: the early history of pragmatics in Europe and America, 1780:1930. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Ogden, Charles K. & Ivor Armstrong Richards. 1949 [1923]. The Meaning of Meaning: a study of the influence of language upon thought and of the science of symbolism. London: Kegan Paul.

Radick, Gregory. 2016. 'The unmaking of a modern synthesis: Noam Chomsky, Charles Hockett, and the politics of behaviourism, 1955:1965', Isis 107.1, 49-73.

Sampson, Geoffrey, David Gil & Peter Trudgill, eds. 2009. Language Complexity as an Evolving Variable. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Saussure, Ferdinand de. 1959 [1916]. Course in General Linguistics, Wade Baskin, trans. New York: Philosophical Library. []

Schleicher, August. 1969 [1863]. Darwinism tested by the science of language, Alex V.W. Bikkers, trans. London: Camden Hotton. []

Turner, James. 2014. Philology: the forgotten origins of the modern humanities. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Whitney, William Dwight. 1873. Oriental and Linguistic Studies. New York: Scribner, Armstrong and Co. [].
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students are also expected to acquire or sharpen the following transferable skills:
- Engage in autonomous thinking and analysis.
- Critically appraise material they have studied.
- Develop their research skills, in terms both of access to existing information and conducting original observation.
- Improve their expository writing skills.
- Become familiar with modes of analysis from other areas of the humanities and social sciences that are widely used in present-day history of linguistics.
Course organiserDr James McElvenny
Tel: (0131 6)50 3597
Course secretaryMiss Toni Noble
Tel: (0131 6)51 3188
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