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Language (Spring 2022)

This page will be updated as we get closer to the start of the semester.

Course Description

This course is an introductory survey of the field of linguistics—the scientific study of language. During the semester, we will look at questions like the following: Is speaking an instinctual or a learned behavior? Why do children acquire language so much faster and easier than adults, and what are the stages of acquisition? What do the native speakers of a language know about the language’s word structure, sentence structure, sentence meaning, and pronunciation? How is language processed in the brain? How and why did language evolve into such a complex system? What is the relationship between language, social class, and race? The course will approach these questions from a scientific perspective, incorporating methodologies from mathematics and logic, as well as the social sciences (such as psychology and sociology). It will provide you with the necessary background to continue your studies in linguistics at a more advanced level if you choose to. It satisfies the Introductory Course requirement for Linguistics majors and is a prerequisite for some of the other courses. Language is a CORE exemptor for CAS students; it satisfies the Societies and Social Sciences course requirement.

Course Details

  • Title: LING-UA 1 Language
  • Section 001: 
    • Mondays and Wednesdays 3:30PM-4:45PM, location TBD
    • Instructor: Lucas Champollion – office hours TBD or by appointment
  • Recitation (section 002):
    • Instructor: TBD – office hours TBD, or by appointment
  • Recitation (section 003): 
    • Instructor: TBD – office hours TBD, or by appointment
  • Prerequisites: None; this course assumes no prior knowledge of linguistics. Don’t worry if you are not a native speaker of English.


The primary textbook we will be using is Linguistics for Dummies, 1st edition, by Rose-Marie Déchaine, Strang Burton and Eric Vatikiotis-Bateson. Please don’t be offended by the title — we do not think you are dummies! This is a high-quality book written by world-class linguists. It appeared in a series that imposes the title on all of its books. Prof. Champollion has read the book from cover to cover before deciding to adopt it, and can attest that it is written in a very accessible way, without sacrificing accuracy or rigor; has no major factual errors; and does a good job at covering most facets of linguistics in a balanced way. The book is available online for just $12. You will be able to purchase it online via the Perusall platform (an access code will be sent to you at the beginning of the semester). Please do not purchase the textbook in hard copy as you would then not be able to access it on Perusall.

To enhance Linguistics for Dummies, we will be assigning video and text from the textbook Essentials of Linguistics by Catherine Anderson, about the core areas of theoretical linguistics (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics), supplemented with discussion of psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic findings. All these materials will be accessible free of charge, and are licensed via Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike. We are indebted to Prof. Anderson for making these materials available to the linguistics community.


Course requirements