Course Descriptions

Linguistics
Humanities Building, Room 203
651-696-6480
651-696-6428 fax

Linguistics

LING 100 - Introduction to Linguistics

The aim of this course is to make you aware of the complex organization and systematic nature of language, the primary means of human communication. In a sense, you will be studying yourself, since you are a prime example of a language user. Most of your knowledge of language, however, is unconscious, and the part of language that you can describe is largely the result of your earlier education, which may have given you confused, confusing, or misleading notions about language. This course is intended to clarify your ideas about language and bring you to a better understanding of its nature. By the end of the course you should be familiar with some of the terminology and techniques of linguistic analysis and be able to apply this knowledge to the description of different languages. There are no prerequisites, but this course is the prerequisite for almost every higher level course within the linguistics major.

Frequency: Every semester.

LING 103 - Advertising and Propaganda

North Americans on the whole are far more exposed to commercial advertising, arguably the most sophisticated propaganda in human history, than to the cruder versions we imbibe in church and school, or associate with Nazi Germany or Orwell's 1984. On this subject, we are jaded experts: hip to the "white noise" on TV, on the internet, and in glossy magazines. Yet even with TiVo, we are unable to tune it out completely. The main purpose of this course is to apply the concepts and techniques of linguistic semantics to the analysis of advertising and the ideology which it both nurtures and reflects. What is the semiotic function of Ronald MacDonald? Why did so many otherwise rational Americans once believe that the person most likely to blow up the world was Muammar (Who?) Khaddafy? What are the propaganda consequences of the collapse of the Evil Empire? Why are we fascinated by Brad Pitt and bored by Cesar (Who?) Chavez? What is the role of propaganda in creating the cult of beauty? Why are advertisements which make fun of themselves so effective? Why is war propaganda almost always more effective than anti-war propaganda?

Frequency: Alternate years.

LING 104 - The Sounds of Language

Nearly all natural languages are spoken. Biological properties of the human ear, pharynx, larynx, tongue, and lung impose limits on the sounds of human languages, which can be studied from both a biological and an acoustic point of view. In this course you will be trained to produce and recognize (almost) all the sounds which human languages make use of, and to develop a systematic way of analyzing and recording them. Since sounds are perceived as well as produced, you will also be introduced to the acoustic analysis of speech, learning how acoustic signals of frequency, amplitude, and duration are translated into visible, quantifiable images. You will learn the art of decoding these spectrograms into sounds and words and sentences. The linguistics laboratory contains several different programs for practicing and listening to sounds from many of the world's languages. This course is recommended for students of foreign languages, drama, music and anyone who wants to become more aware of their (and other people's) pronunciation.

Frequency: Every fall.

LING 150 - Language and Gender in Japanese Society

Japanese is considered to be a gendered language in the sense that women and men speak differently from each other. Male characters in Japanese animation often use "boku" or "ore" to refer to themselves, while female characters often use "watashi" or "atashi." When translated into Japanese, Hermione Granger (a female character in the Harry Potter series) ends sentences with soft-sounding forms, while Harry Potter and his best friend Ron use more assertive forms. Do these fictional representations reflect reality? How are certain forms associated with femininity or masculinity? Do speakers of Japanese conform to the norm or rebel against it? These are some of the questions discussed in this course. Students will have opportunities to learn about the history of gendered language, discover different methodologies in data collections, and find out about current discourse on language and gender.

Frequency: Offered alternate years.

Cross-Listed as

ASIA 150, JAPA 150 and WGSS 150

LING 175 - Sociolinguistics

Sociolinguistics is the study of the social language variation inevitable in all societies, be they closed and uniform or diverse and multicultural. Language and culture are so closely tied that it is nearly impossible to discuss language variation without also understanding its relation to culture. As humans, we judge each other constantly on the basis of the way we talk, we make sweeping generalizations about people's values and moral worth solely on the basis of the language they speak. Diversity in language often stands as a symbol of ethnic and social diversity. If someone criticizes our language we feel they are criticizing our inmost self. This course introduces students to the overwhelming amount of linguistic diversity in the United States and elsewhere, while at the same time making them aware of the cultural prejudices inherent in our attitude towards people who speak differently from us. The class involves analysis and discussion of the readings, setting the stage for exploration assignments, allowing students to do their own research on linguistic diversity.

Cross-Listed as

SOCI 175

LING 194 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

LING 200 - English Syntax

This course deals with the formal properties of discourse organization above the word level. Using local English as our test case, we introduce and refine the conceptual apparatus of theoretical syntax: syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic categories, the ways they are coded in English, phrase structure rules and recursion, semantic and pragmatic motivations for formal structures, movement rules, anaphora, and dependence relations. Some properties of English are (probable) language universals.

LING 201 - Historical Linguistics

Languages are constantly changing. The English written by Chaucer 600 years ago is now very difficult to understand without annotation, not to mention anything written a few centuries before that. This course investigates the nature of language change, how to determine a language's history, its relationship to other languages and the search for common ancestors or "proto-languages." We will discuss changes at various linguistic levels: sound change, lexical change, syntactic change and changes in word meaning over time. Although much of the work done in this field involves Indo-European languages, we will also look at change in many other language families. This is a practical course, most of class time will be spent DOING historical linguistics, rather than talking about it. We will be looking at data sets from many different languages and trying to make sense of them. In the cases where we have examples of many related languages, we will try to reconstruct what the parent language must have looked like.

Prerequisite(s)

LING 100 or LING 104

LING 202 - Origins/Evolution of Language

In 1870, the Linguistic Society of Paris decreed that all papers on the topic of the origin of speech were inadmissible. In recent years, speculations about the evolutions of language have become respectable once again, as attested by the number of international conferences on the topic, and journals devoted to it. Although we are only a little closer to a description of "proto-human" than we were back in 1870, it is now universally recognized that there are no primitive languages, and that neither the comparative method of historical linguistics nor internal reconstruction can allow us to reconstruct the earliest human languages (although they still allow us to make inferences about Proto-Indo-European and other ancient extinct languages). But there have been advances in our understanding of the neurological substrate for linguistic ability, communication in (some) other species, and in the application of the uniformitarian hypothesis: the processes we now observe in different kinds of language change are themselves capable of producing all the recognized "design features" of human language out of earlier structures in which these features are lacking.

Prerequisite(s)

LING 100 or LING 301

LING 204 - Experimental Linguistics

This course is the natural extension of the Sounds of Language course, as well as the prerequisite to the capstone course in the cognitive track. Students learn how to conduct linguistic research from the bottom up, from forming a hypothesis to constructing word and sentence lists for elicitation, or stimuli for recognition, to recording speakers, running tests, analyzing the data obtained, and writing up the final research paper. By the end of the semester, students should be familiar with all the equipment in the linguistics laboratory and what kinds of questions each is designed to explore, and to be able to conduct their own independent research.

Prerequisite(s)

LING 100 or LING 104

LING 205 - Phonology

Although all humans are born with the capacity to learn the sounds of any language, part of learning our native language is learning to categorize sounds into groups specific to that language, thereby filtering out many of the actual phonetic distinctions and concentrating only on those that are important. Just as we, as English speakers, may have trouble hearing the difference between the voiced and voiceless click consonants in Zulu, so speakers of other languages may not hear the difference between the vowels in "beat" and "bit," because this small distinction isn't important in their language. Phonology is the study of how different languages organize sounds into perceptual categories. In this class we will look at data from a wide variety of different languages, as well as from several dialects of English, including children's acquisition of a phonological system. Emphasis will be on practical skills in solving problem sets.

Prerequisite(s)

LING 104

LING 206 - Endangered/Minority Languages

Language loss is accelerating at alarming rates. In fact, Linguists predict that only five percent of the six thousand languages currently spoken in the world are expected to survive into the 22nd century. In this course, we will examine the historical, political, and socio-economic factors behind the endangerment and/or marginalization of languages in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America. We will also concentrate on the globalization of English (and other major languages), which plays a primary role in language endangerment and marginalization. Additional topics include: linguistic diversity, language policy, multilingualism (in both nations and individuals), global language conflict, and language revitalization. Students will have the opportunity to learn first-hand about these issues by interviewing speakers of an endangered and/or minority language.

Frequency: Offered every third year.

Cross-Listed as

ANTH 206

LING 225 - 100 Words for Snow: Language and Nature

Human beings have an unprecedented ability to shape the environment around them, yet the environment powerfully shapes both individuals and species. Two main questions run throughout this course: 1. How does language influence the way we think about and perceive nature, which in turn influences the way we interact with and shape nature? 2. How has our environment shaped the Language faculty and individual languages? To answer these questions, we'll start by asking, what is language and what is nature? Then we'll turn to the way that our environment has impacted the evolution of Language. Next we'll look at indigenous knowledge as it is encoded by language and the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis, which says that language influences the way we perceive the world. With this as background, we'll look at the language of environmental discourse. Next, using the metaphor of ecology, we'll examine languages as if they were organisms and analyze the ecosystems that sustain them. Knowing what makes a healthy language, we'll look at endangered languages and the connections between linguistic diversity and biodiversity.

Frequency: Spring semester.

Cross-Listed as

ENVI 225

LING 235 - Communicative Strategies in Japanese Society

This course aims at understanding communicative strategies employed by Japanese speakers. Students of Japanese language often wonder what cultural assumptions and strategies lie behind the language they are studying. In language classrooms such issues are touched upon but never fully explained in the interest of time. This course offers in-depth explorations of the interrelationship between Japanese language and society. Students will be encouraged to reflect upon their own communicative strategies. They will also read about strategies used by American English speakers as a point of comparison. How is gender articulated in Japanese society? Is the so-called feminine speech in Japanese real? If the feminine speech is considered "powerless," how do women in authoritative positions speak? Problems in U.S.-Japan business and other negotiations are often reported in the popular press. How are they related to how people in each country communicate with one another? Japanese people are supposed to be "polite." How, to whom, and in what context do they express politeness? Are their politeness strategies markedly different from those of other countries? Students will have opportunities to explore issues such as these. No Japanese language ability required.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Cross-Listed as

JAPA 235.

LING 280 - Topics in Linguistic Anthropology

Introduces students to linguistic anthropology, one of the four major subfields of the discipline of anthropology. Students will focus on particular topics within linguistic anthropology including: gender, race, sexuality, and identity. May involve fieldwork in the Twin Cities area. Focus will be announced at registration.

Frequency: Offered occasionally.

Prerequisite(s)

ANTH 111 or ANTH 111

Cross-Listed as

ANTH 280

LING 294 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

LING 300 - Linguistic Analysis

The first prerequisite to understanding a linguistic message is the ability to decipher its code. This course is training in the decoding of grammar. Through practice in problem-solving, you will develop expertise in the grammatical systems of a wide sample of the world's language types.

Frequency: Every fall.

Prerequisite(s)

LING 100 - Introduction to Linguistics, plus one of LING 200 - Syntax or LING 205 - Phonology.

LING 301 - Language and Alienation

We are living in the midst of an "irony epidemic," where two of the most frequently used expressions in current American English are "like" and "whatever." Both of these are literally advertisements that words are not the real thing (at best, they are "like" it), and that they don't matter (since "whatever" you say is equally a matter of indifference). This course takes as its point of departure the sarcasm and irony in spoken American English, and proceeds to an investigation of how the peculiar message of sarcasm ("I don't mean this") is conveyed in other languages, and in the media. Not surprisingly, the study of cheap talk connects intimately with aspects of pop culture. More surprising, however, is the idea that the cheapness of talk is not only a currently recognized property of our language, but that it might serve to define the very essence of human language in general and offer insights into the origins and nature of our ability to speak at all.

Prerequisite(s)

one prior course in Linguistics

LING 309 - Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics

A linguistic survey of the Spanish language aimed at improving pronunciation and increasing comprehension of the structure of the language, deepening students' understanding of the sound system, word formation, grammar and meaning. Study will emphasize phonetics and provide an introduction to transcription, phonology, morphology and syntax, as well as provide an overview of linguistic change and geographic variation.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

HISP 305 or consent of instructor.

Cross-Listed as

HISP 309

LING 311 - Philosophy of Language

What is language and what is it for? What makes a series of sounds into a meaningful sentence? What makes a sentence true? Why is language always changing? This course will introduce students to ways in which twentieth century philosophers have attempted to provide answers to such questions. Since the philosophy of language has been so crucial to contemporary philosophy, this course also serves as an introduction to philosophical thought from the beginning of twentieth century to the present. Topics will range from more technical problems (theories of meaning, reference and truth; synonymy and analyticity; universals and natural kinds; private languages) to broader issues examining the relationship between language and culture (language games; radical interpretation; social change). Readings typically include writings by Ludwig Wittgenstein, W.V. Quine, John Searle, Donald Davidson, Richard Rorty, Michel Foucault, and bell hooks.

Prerequisite(s)

PHIL 201, or permission of instructor

Cross-Listed as

PHIL 311

LING 335 - Analyzing Japanese Language

Our perception is greatly influenced by the language we use. Without knowing, we limit ourselves to thinking that our current perspective is the only way by which to view ourselves and the world. By analyzing Japanese, students can experience perceptual and cultural systems that are different from their own. At the same time, students may also discover that there are certain qualities that are common even in "exotic" languages such as Japanese. What is the function of the topic marker? Why can't you translate "he is cold" into Japanese word for word? Why are there so many different personal pronouns in Japanese? How do you express your feelings in Japanese? What is the relationship between your identity and gendered speech? This course provides opportunities to discuss these questions that students of Japanese commonly have. Students will also experience examining authentic Japanese data. Japanese Language and Culture majors who are juniors and seniors may count this course as their capstone experience.

Frequency: Offered every three years.

Prerequisite(s)

JAPA 204, or permission of instructor

Cross-Listed as

JAPA 335

LING 378 - Psychology of Language

An examination of psychological factors that affect the comprehension of oral and written language. Topics include the origin of language, how language can control thought, the role of mutual knowledge in comprehension, and principles that underlie coherence in discourse. Includes readings from psycholinguistics, philosophy, sociolinguistics, social psychology, and especially from cognitive psychology. Emphasis is placed on current research methods so that students can design an original study.  Student led component.

Frequency: Spring semester.

Prerequisite(s)

PSYC 100 (or PSYC 201) and PSYC 242 or two linguistics classes, or permission of the instructor.

Cross-Listed as

PSYC 378

LING 394 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

LING 400 - Field Methods in Linguistics

The vast majority of the world's languages cannot be learned from textbooks or programmed tapes. They have never even been recorded. In this course, which is required for all linguistics majors, students meet with one or more bilingual speakers of a language unknown to them, and attempt by means of elicitation and analysis of texts to understand its structure.

Frequency: Spring semester.

Prerequisite(s)

 LING 104 - Sounds of Language, and LING 300 - Linguistic Analysis.

LING 435 - History of the Spanish Language

An overview of Modern Spanish as it has developed over time. Course will trace the historical evolution of the most salient phonological, morpho-syntactic and lexical traits of Modern Spanish and will include study of the origins of American Spanish. Students will also be introduced to some of the principal theories of language change. This course satisfies the Area 3 requirement for the Hispanic & Latin American Studies major.

Frequency: Offered occasionally.

Prerequisite(s)

 LING 309 or HISP 309 or permission of instructor.

Cross-Listed as

HISP 435

LING 436 - Spanish Dialectology

A survey of modern dialectal variations of Spanish that includes examination of American Spanish dialects as well as those of the Iberian Peninsula. Sociolinguistic issues and historical aspects of dialect variation and study will be addressed, along with other extralinguistic factors. Through this course, students will be provided an introduction to theories of language change, as well as the history of the language, and will gain a broad understanding of the different varieties of Modern Spanish. This course satisfies the Area 3 requirement for the Hispanic & Latin American Studies major.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s)

 LING 309 or HISP 309 or permission of the instructor.

Cross-Listed as

HISP 436

LING 437 - Applied Linguistics: Spanish Second Language Acquisition

An overview of research projects on the acquisition of Spanish as a second language. Students will learn about the theoretical approaches used in these studies as well as the effects of various pedagogical approaches on the development of Spanish interlanguage systems. While the focus of the course is on the acquisition of Spanish as a second language, students will gain a broad and useful understanding of different pedagogical issues directly related to the acquisition/learning process(es) of other second languages. This course satisfies the Area 3 requirement for the Hispanic & Latin American Studies major.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s)

LING 309 or HISP 309 or permission of instructor.

Cross-Listed as

HISP 437

LING 488 - Translating Japanese: Theory and Practice

This workshop for advanced students of Japanese explores the craft and cultural implications of Japanese-to-English literary translation. It aims to give students not only a facility and sophistication in translating Japanese, but also a closer familiarity with the Japanese language itself. Through weekly translation assignments, we will examine the expressive qualities of the Japanese language, tracing major developments of prose style in the modern period and studying the socio-historical context manifested in those linguistic innovations. Our work will be informed and enhanced by engagements with theories of translation as well as essays on Japanese-to-English translation specifically. We will cover a broad range of genres, including essays, poetry, manga, and film (subtitles). The course will culminate in an original project translating a Japanese work of one's choice.This workshop for advanced students of Japanese explores the craft and cultural implications of Japanese-to-English literary translation. It aims to give students not only a facility and sophistication in translating Japanese, but also a closer familiarity with the Japanese language itself. Through weekly translation assignments, we will examine the expressive qualities of the Japanese language, tracing major developments of prose style in the modern period and studying the socio-historical context manifested in those linguistic innovations. Our work will be informed and enhanced by engagements with theories of translation as well as essays on Japanese-to-English translation specifically. We will cover a broad range of genres, including essays, poetry, manga, and film (subtitles). The course will culminate in an original project translating a Japanese work of one's choice.

Prerequisite(s)

JAPA 305 - Third Year Japanese I or higher

Cross-Listed as

JAPA 488

LING 494 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

LING 611 - Independent Project

Limit of one may be applied toward the major unless the student is carrying out a capstone or an honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

LING 612 - Independent Project

Limit of one may be applied toward the major unless the student is carrying out a capstone or an honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

LING 613 - Independent Project

Limit of one may be applied toward the major unless the student is carrying out a capstone or an honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

LING 614 - Independent Project

Limit of one may be applied toward the major unless the student is carrying out a capstone or an honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

LING 621 - Internship

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

LING 622 - Internship

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

LING 623 - Internship

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

LING 624 - Internship

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

LING 631 - Preceptorship

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

LING 632 - Preceptorship

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

LING 633 - Preceptorship

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

LING 634 - Preceptorship

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

LING 641 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

LING 642 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

LING 643 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

LING 644 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.