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

Undergraduate Course: LEL2D: Cross-linguistic Variation: Limits and Theories (LASC08020)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course introduces students to the range and limits of variation observed in the languages of the world, to the analytical and theoretical challenges that they pose, and to responses that have been given to these challenges. The issues are considered both from a theoretical perspective, considering different approaches to the study of the human language faculty, and with a starting point in the analysis of specific phenomena, particularly in the areas of morphosyntax and phonology, and with reference to language acquisition.
Course description The course focuses on variation in grammatical systems in the world's languages, particularly in the areas of morphosyntax and phonology, on its importance for linguistic analysis and theory, and the responses given by linguistic theory to these challenges. The course aims to develop students' awareness of the diversity of linguistic phenomena and restrictions on it, their skills in analysing a diverse range of data, and their theoretical understanding of the sources of linguistic variation and different approaches to explaining its range and limits.
The course gives an introduction to the study of linguistic typology and the issue of linguistic universals. It addresses issues of theory construction more broadly and in linguistics specifically, methods in the study of typological variation, and approaches to explanation. In particular, the course considers the tension between 'grammar-internal' and 'grammar-external' explanations in linguistic theory, with reference to questions of innateness, emergence of linguistic structure, domain-specificity of linguistic knowledge, the role of processing ease and other psycholinguistic factors, the importance of developmental data, and diachronic/historical explanations for patterns of linguistic diversity.
In addition to these overarching questions, the course also equips students with knowledge and skills related to the description and theoretical analysis of specific phenomena in a diverse range of languages, including patterns of word order, syntactic relations, phonological alternations, and language development.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Linguistics and English Language 1A (LASC08022) AND Linguistics and English Language 1B (LASC08023)) AND LEL2A: Linguistic Theory and the Structure of English (LASC08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have completed at least 1 introductory level Language Science course at grade B or above for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses. Relevant courses will be courses in Linguistics as an academic discipline. Courses that describe aspects of a given language as part of a Modern Foreign Languages degree will typically not provide students with an adequate background.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 33, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 153 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Homework assignments worth 15%
Written assignment worth 40%
Final written assignment worth 45%
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Resit Exam Diet (August)LEL2D2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate their knowledge of some important ways in which the phonological and syntactic systems of different languages differ from each other, the extent to which these differences are restricted, and understanding of how these different systems have been analysed within current linguistic theory.
  2. Analyse data from unfamiliar languages using the theoretical tools presented.
  3. Explain how crosslinguistic data can be used to test theories
  4. Discuss the factors influencing the nature of cross-linguistic variation and its limits, such as the architecture of the language faculty, general cognitive factors, and the nature of language acquisition
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the role of cross-linguistic variation in major developments in linguistic theory, and of the major issues and controversies concerning the limits of linguistic variation.
Reading List
Detailed guidance will be provided in the Resource List. The following texts are key readings for the course:

Baker, Mark C. 2001. The atoms of language. New York: Basic Books.

Kennedy, Robert. 2017. Phonology: A coursebook. Cambridge: CUP.

Santorini, Beatrice, and Anthony Kroch. 2007-. The syntax of natural
language: An online introduction.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information All students will also attend a one-hour tutorial on Thursday (several slots will be available).
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Pavel Iosad
Tel: (0131 6)50 3948
Course secretaryMs Susan Hermiston
Tel: (0131 6)50 3440
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