Undergraduate Course: LEL2D: Cross-linguistic Variation: Limits and Theories (LASC08020)
|School||School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||The 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.
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.
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Visiting 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?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2021/22, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 33,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Homework assessment worth 10%
Assignment 1 worth 40%
Assignment 2 worth 50%
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- 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.
- Analyse data from unfamiliar languages using the theoretical tools presented.
- Explain how crosslinguistic data can be used to test theories
- 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
- 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.
|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.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||All students will also attend a one-hour tutorial on Thursday (several slots will be available).
|Course organiser||Dr Robert Truswell
Tel: (0131 6)51 5511
|Course secretary||Ms Susan Hermiston
Tel: (0131 6)50 3440