Linguistics 101

Course syllabus

Course Information

Lecture times: MWF 11:00-11:50am
Lecture location: Center Hall, room 216
Section time: Monday 1-2pm
Section location: York 3050A

Course objectives

This is a general introduction to linguistics, the scientific study of human language. We will focus on the major core subfields of linguistics: morphology, phonetics, phonology, syntax, and semantics. These subfields are areas of active research in their own right, and are also prerequisite to working in a number of other subfields of linguistics which we will cover near the end of the course, including sociolinguistics and language variation, historical linguistics and language change, psycholinguistics, and language acquisition.

Instructor information

Instructor TA
Roger Levy Grant Loomis
Office: AP&M 4220 AP&M 3331A
Office hours: Friday 1-3pm (cancelled 10/6; 1:30-3:30pm 10/13,10/20,10/27)
Special office hours Tuesday Oct 30, 11am-1pm
Office hours cancelled Friday Nov 3
Monday 12-1pm and Wednesday 1-2pm
Phone: (858) 534-7219 TBA
Fax: (858) 534-4789 (858) 534-4789

Intended Audience

Upper-division students and highly-motivated lower-division students interested in language. No previous exposure to linguistics is required.


We will be using the following textbook for the course:

Akmajian, Adrian, Richard A. Demers, Ann K. Farmer, and Robert M. Harnish. 2001. Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and Communication. MIT Press. Fifth edition.

Please do the reading for each day before the lecture! You will not understand the material covered in lecture as well otherwise.

Course homepage

The homepage for the course is It's subject to update, so check (reload/refresh!) it often.


We will be using WebCT for administering homework assignments and various surveys, and as a discussion forum for all participants in the class. Most of you should be familiar with WebCT from another class; if you aren't, take a look at

Discussion board

There will be discussion boards on the course WebCT site for the major topics covered in this class. If you have a question about course content that may be relevant to other students in the course, we strongly encourage you to post it to the WebCT discussion board for this class. We encourage you to read the discussion boards regularly, and if you know the answer to a question, to post the answer! Active participation in discussion boards will be given positive consideration in determining final grades.

Instructor contact policy

Coming to talk to the instructor or TA during their office hours is highly encouraged. Electronic communications about course content should be made through the WebCT discussion board (see above). We ask that you use email contact only for communications that are not relevant to other students (e.g., specific learning circumstances or personal emergency).


Week Day Lecture Reading
0 Friday Sep 22 Class introduction. What is linguistics? Chapter 1
1 Monday Sep 25 Morphology I: words & morphemes. Chapter 2.1, 2.2
Wednesday Sep 27 Morphology II: neologisms. Chapter 2.3
Friday Sep 29 Morphology III: inflection and derivation; exceptions. Chapter 2.4, 2.5
2 Monday Oct 2 Morphology IV: special topics & wrapup. Chapter 2.6
Wednesday Oct 4 Phonetics I: physical properties of speech; phonemic transcription. Chapter 3.1, 3.2 (pp. 71--73)
Friday Oct 6 Phonetics II: consonants and vowels. Chapter 3.2 (pp. 73--86)
3 Monday Oct 9 Phonetics III: morphophonetics of plural formation; allophones; special topics. Chapter 3.2 (pp. 86-97), 3.3
Wednesday Oct 11 Phonology I: distinctive feature theory. Chapter 4.1, 4.2
Friday Oct 13 Phonology II: external organization. Chapter 4.3
4 Monday Oct 16 Phonology III: intonation & wrapup. Chapter 4.4
Wednesday Oct 18 Guest lecture by Professor Rachel Mayberry: the phonology of sign language
Friday Oct 20 Syntax I: competence/performance, structure & ambiguity. Chapter 5.1
5 Monday Oct 23 Midterm exam (morphology, phonetics, and phonology)
Wednesday Oct 25 Syntax II: discovering structure through formulating grammatical rules. Chapter 5.2 (pp. 156--168)
Friday Oct 27 Syntax III: constituent structure & tree diagrams. Chapter 5.2 (pp. 168--184)
6 Monday Oct 30 Syntax IV: transformations. Chapter 5.2 (pp. 184--197)
Wednesday Nov 1 Syntax V: phrase structure rules. Chapter 5.3
Friday Nov 3 Semantics I: theories of meaning. Chapter 6.1, 6.2
7 Monday Nov 6 Semantics II: lexical semantics and sentence-level semantics. Chapter 6.3
Wednesday Nov 8 Semantics III: mood, deictics, reference. Chapter 6.4
Friday Nov 10 Veterans day; no class.
8 Monday Nov 13 Pragmatics I: speech acts. Language Files pragmatics reading: file 8.1
Wednesday Nov 15 Pragmatics II: entailment, implicature, rules of conversation. Language Files pragmatics reading: file 8.2,8.3
Friday Nov 17 Pragmatics III: language in advertising. Language Files pragmatics reading: file 8.4
9 Monday Nov 20 Language variation: African-American English Vernacular. Special guest lecture by Dr. Tim Beyer! Chapter 7.2
Wednesday Nov 22 Language change I: nature of language change; language families. Chapter 8.1, 8.2
Friday Nov 24 Thanksgiving; no class.
10 Monday Nov 27 Language change II: history of English. Chapter 8.3
Wednesday Nov 29 Language change III: language reconstruction.
Friday Dec 1 Final review.

Work and Grading

There will be six homework assignments during the course of the class (5% each), a midterm (30%), and a final (40%). Positive participation in section and the discussion forum will be taken into account in determining borderline-situation class grades. There may also be an opportunity to earn extra credit by participating in a psycholinguistic experiment on campus -- more on this later in the quarter.

Homework Late Policy

We are instituting an amnesty for Homework 3 (phonology): if you haven't turned it in yet but do so by this Friday (October 27), you will be downgraded 30%. Starting with Homework 4, each late day will cost you a 10% penalty, and homework will not be accepted more than 5 days late. These penalties are applied to the individual homework assignment, not to your homework grade as a whole.