Archive of Past Ling 447 Courses

Discover an archive of past LING 447 courses, topics, and instructors that were offered in the Department of Linguistics.

Availability for specific topics and sections will vary each year depending on the instructor.

2020 – 2021

Course #: 447C
Title: Comparative Chinese Syntax: Inner Aspect
Days/times: Tues/Thurs 9:30-11:00
Instructor: Rint Sybesma

Description: In this course, we will investigate a number of varieties of Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, Luqiao Wu, and Changsha Xiang) to get a better understanding of the part of the verbal domain which is sometimes referred to as “Inner Aspect”, i.e., the part between vP and VP. This means that we will talk about many different aspects of “argument structure”, such as the positioning and licensing of the external argument (VoiceP, vP) as well as the internal argument and matters related to aspect (viewpoint aspect and situation aspect). Concretely, topics we will investigate are resultatives, word order differences within the Sinitic language family, aspectual particles like Mandarin le and zhe and their counterparts in the other varieties, the Mandarin bǎ-construction, and why colloquial Cantonese does not have it, etc.

Course #: 447U
Title: Explorations of Phon with People
Days/times: Tues/Thurs 2:00- 3:30pm
Instructor: Amanda Cardoso

Description: This will be a largely discussion-based course that explores “people” and phonetics and phonology together by focussing on a number of specific themes, such as The SocioPhon Space, where we discuss regional and social variation. These themes will be used to explore a variety of questions about the way that people interact with each other and how this manifests in the phonetic and phonological production and perception of their languages. Different theoretical debates related to the topics will be discussed and methodological practices will be discussed and in some cases, you will gain hands-on experience using the methods and analytical techniques. Readings will be mostly primarily literature within the field.

Course #: 447V
Title: Syntax-Prosody Interface
Days/times: Mon/Wed 9:30-11:00
Instructor: Lisa Cheng

Description: This course discusses current issues in the study of the syntax-prosody interface, which concerns the interaction between syntactic structure and phrase-level phonology. We discuss two central questions: (a) What aspects of syntactic structure condition prosodic structures? and (b) Can prosodic phonology inform syntactic theories? We examine both direct-reference theories and indirect-reference theories, and discuss how the mapping between syntactic structures and prosodic structures is realized.

Course #: 447R
Title: Experimental Phonetics/Phonology
Days/times: Mon/Wed 9:30-11:00
Instructor: Jahurul Islam

Description: In this course you will learn about the tools and concepts that are need for designing, implementing, phonetics experiments including analyzing the collected data. After successful completion of the course, you would be able to understand the basic life cycle of typical experiments in speech production and perception, and be able to design, run, and critique such projects. Much of the course will be devoted to learning practical skills needed to achieve these goals; therefore, this course will heavily focus on hands-on experience with the process of quality audio recording, automating annotation of speech sounds, interpretation of speech signal visualizations in the frequency and amplitude domains, measurement/extraction of acoustic features (e.g. vowel formants, pitch, duration). We will also learn how to use Praat MFC and PsyToolkit to design and administer perception and artificial learning experiments. We will often focus on finding answers to phonological questions via phonetic data touch upon doing basic statistics in R software package.

Course #: 447F
Title: Structure of Washo
Days/times: Tues/Thurs 11:00- 12:30pm
Instructor: Ryan Bochnak

Description: This course is an introduction to Washo, an endangered indigenous language isolate of northern California and Nevada. We will examine various topics in phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. Throughout the course, Washo data will be discussed in their relevant theoretical contexts through lectures and readings. Students will have the opportunity to engage with a variety of language materials, including audio recordings, published texts, research papers, and field notes. Students will also gain some practical familiarity with the language and develop some basic conversational skills.

2019 – 2020

Course #: 447A
Title: Topics in Linguistics: Agreement
Days/times: Tu/Th 11:00 – 12:30
Instructor: Nico Baier

Description: This course aims to develop a deep understanding of a current issue in contemporary comparative generative syntax, namely the nature of agreement, for features such as person, number, and gender. In the last two decades, there has been an explosion of work on agreement, and we will be reading selections from the primary literature, and looking at case studies of particular languages. We will be specifically focused on exploring whether or not the same set of theoretical mechanisms should be employed for all The course is intended as means of introducing students to the primary literature in the field, and the lessons to be learned from it (e.g. how to use data compellingly, how to structure a syntactic argument, how to write a research paper, etc.). During the course, students will be expected to participate in seminar-type discussions, present literature reviews, conduct original research, participate in a research lab/group, present research findings, build up a research project, and co-author the relative final research paper working in groups.

Course #: 447B
Title: Phon with People
Days/times: Tu/Th 14:00-15:30
Instructor: Amanda Cadorso

Description: In this course, we will examine phonetics and phonology from a very different perspective than LING 200, 311, and 313. We will be putting “people” and phonetics and phonology together by the use of three overall themes: “Phon in Space”, “Moving and Coming Together”, and “All the Single People”. The themes will be used to explore a variety of questions about the way that people interact with each other and how this manifests in the phonetic and phonological production and perception of their languages. “Phon is Space” will deal with questions, such as: How do people in different locations use phonetic variation and phonological patterns? How does this affect the processing of language? “Moving and Coming Together” focuses on population dynamics and phonetics/phonology. In this theme, we will look at how the mobility of people and contact may change the phonetic or phonological features over time. We will be thinking about questions like: How does constant movement between areas affect sound systems of language? What happens when there is a large migration into an area? “All the single people” will examine individual phonetic variation. So, we will look at things like: "What happens to a person’s sound system when they move? How do sound systems of bilingual speakers interact with each other?" Along the way, we will also talk about different methodological practices and theoretical debates that are relevant to the topic. AND you will gain hands-on experience with phonetic research.

Course #: 447D
Title: Language Pedagogy for Theoretical Linguists
Days/times: Tu/Th 3:30- 5:00
Instructor: Strang Burton

Description: A broad-level survey of research into language learning and teaching, with a focus on integrating formal linguistic knowledge into effective pedagogical practices. The course is designed for students with a background in formal linguistics who find themselves called to help with pedagogical development, as in working with communities with endangered languages.

Course #: 447E
Title: Nasals and Nasalization
Days/times: Tu/Th 11:00-12:30
Instructor: Gillian de Boer

Description: At first glance, oral vs nasal sound production is straightforward. If the velum is raised, the sound is oral, if lowered the sound is nasalized (or a nasal). This course will explore many areas relating to typical nasals and nasalization such as physiology (Does the velum “trap door” analogy hold? Does the velum have another role?), acoustics (the “nasal murmur”), and perception (Does the perception of nasals change with development?). There will also be a discussion of instrumental and perceptual measures of typical and disordered nasality, and their respective pros and cons. Students will read relevant papers, discuss them in a student-led format, and conduct research for a final paper.

2018 – 2019

Course #: 447G
Title: Computational Skills for Linguistic Analysis
Days/times: M/W, 12:30 – 2 pm
Instructor: Julian Brooke

Description: The goal of this course is to provide students with a set of practical skills for using computers to carry out linguistic analysis. We will begin by introducing the Python programming language with a particular focus on methods for manipulating strings (sequences of characters). Once we have covered the basics of programming, we will expand our understanding of these techniques in the context of concrete tasks for quantifying the use of language, for instance counting how often a particular linguistic phenomena appears in a large text corpus. Various external packages exist for Python which offers powerful linguistic and statistical tools to even the novice programmer; we will discuss some of the most popular (e.g. the Natural Language Toolkit or NLTK) and show how such tools can be accessed and applied to problems of interest.

This class assumes no particular computational background besides basic computer literacy. Biweekly programming assignments and a final research project will be the main form of assessment.

Course #: 447Q
Title: Phonetics & Phonology of Sign Languages
Days/times: T/Th, 2 – 3:30 pm
Instructor: Kathleen Hall

Description: In this course, we will explore how phonetics and phonology are studied in relation to sign languages. Sign languages of course involve a different modality than spoken languages — they are visual/gestural rather than auditory/vocal. While this means that we can’t literally study the “sounds” of such languages, we can still study the smallest non-meaningful units that form their structure, and that is the sense in which we can study their phonetics and phonology. For example, instead of talking about the place, manner, and voicing of consonant sounds, we might talk about the location, movement, and handshape involved in producing a sign. And as it turns out, many of the phonological processes common in spoken languages also show up in sign languages, such as assimilation, neutralization, reduction, deletion, or metathesis. Such observations give us insight into which characteristics of languages are universal and which are modality- or language-specific.

We will examine the ways in which linguists describe and analyze these components of sign languages, reading both general overview articles and more narrowly focused research papers. We will compare different theoretical approaches to particular issues and discuss their relative merits. Students will be involved in an original research project in relation to the topics covered in the course.

No prior knowledge of any sign language is assumed.

Course #: 447S
Title: Phonemes in Flux
Days/times: M/W, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Instructor: Gudrun (Duna) Gylfadottir

Description: What does it mean for a speaker to have, or not have, a particular phonemic category? How is this related to a speaker’s ability to hear and produce a sound? In this course, we will examine cases where the answer to these questions is not straightforward. This includes changes involving the loss or addition of a phoneme or allophone, situations of language contact and bilingualism, and so-called “incomplete neutralization” phenomena. We will focus on the individual speaker, exploring the connection between production and perception in these contexts through a range of methodologies. Students will read relevant papers, discuss them in a student-led format, and conduct research for a final paper.

Course #: 447T

Title: Current issues in generative syntax
Days/times: M/W, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Instructor: Valentina Colasanti

Description: This course aims to develop an understanding of current issues in generative syntax, with a particular focus on linguistic variation (e.g. parameter theory, typology, microvariation, inter-speaker variation, intra-speaker variation, diachronic change, etc.). We will read selections from the primary-source literature, focusing on some of the most influential articles and chapters. The course is intended as means of introducing students to the primary literature in the field, and the lessons to be learned from it (e.g. how to use data compellingly, how to structure a syntactic argument, etc.). During the course, students will be expected to participate in seminar-type discussions, present literature reviews, conduct original research, participate in a research group, and present research findings.

Course #: 447H
Title: American Sign Language (NB. This course does NOT meet the “Research Requirement” for the BA or the “447 Requirement” in the Linguistics and Speech Sciences Majors.)
Days/times: T/Th 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Instructor: Anita Harding

Description:  tba

2017 – 2018

Course #:  447P
Title:  Advanced Phonology
Days/times: WF 9:30 am – 11:00 am
Instructor:  Douglas Pulleyblank

Description: Discussion and critical analysis of current issues in phonological theory.

Course #:  447L
Title:  Advanced Syntax
Days/times: TTh 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Instructor: Michael Rochemont

Description: Discussion and critical analysis of current issues in syntactic theory.

Course #: 447O
Title: Advanced Semantics
Pre-req: LING 327 or PHIL 220
Days/times: MW 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Instructor:Hotze Rullmann

Description: Discussion and critical analysis of current issues in semantic theory. A basic introduction to syntax is recommended (e.g., LING 100, LING 201, or ENGL 331).

Course #: 447G
Title: Computational Linguistics: Python Programming for Linguists
Pre-req: LING 300 and LING 311
Days/times: MW 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Instructor: Scott Mackie

Description: This course is an introduction to the Python programming language. The focus is on using Python to address problems of interest in linguistics, such as finding minimal pairs, modeling inflectional paradigms, and parsing sentences. No experience in computer programming is required.

Course #: 447N
Title: Information Structure
Days/Times: T Th / 11 am – 12:30 pm
Instructor: Michael Rochemont

Description: Information Structure (IS) is relevant to every area of linguistic investigation. It finds expression in natural language in intonational and segmental phonology, in morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. The last couple of decades have seen an explosion of work on its ramifications for theoretical and experimental research in the phonetics/phonology, phonology/syntax, syntax/semantics, and semantics/pragmatics interfaces, and in areas as diverse as field work, L1 and L2 acquisition and processing, L2 pedagogy, language disorders, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, and computational linguistics. In this course, we investigate the central theoretical notions of IS (focus, givenness and topic), their relation to one another, their expression in different languages and language families, and different theoretical perspectives that are brought to bear on these notions. Students will engage with primary literature and prepare a research report on a topic in one of the areas listed above. Prerequisites: any two of LING 300, 311, 327, 313.

Course #: 447H
Title: American Sign Language (NB. This course does NOT meet the “Research Requirement” for the BA or the “447 Requirement” in the Linguistics and Speech Sciences Majors.)
Days/times: WF 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Instructor: tba

Description: tba

2016 – 2017

Course #: 447G-001
Title: Cross-linguistic semantics and pragmatics
Pre-req: LING 327
Days/times: T Th / 9:30 am – 11 am
Instructor: Lisa Matthewson

Description: Human languages differ in the meaning distinctions they grammatically mark. For example, English encodes tense and uniqueness, but many languages do not.

(1) I am hungry ≠ I was hungry.
(2) the person I love ≠ a person I love

St’át’imcets (a Salish language indigenous to British Columbia) encodes neither tense nor uniqueness. The sentence in (3) can report either present or past hunger, and (4) is vague with respect to whether the speaker loves one person or more.

(3) Táytkan. ‘I am/was hungry.’
(4) ta ucwalmicwa ta wa7 xweysán ‘the/a person who I love’

Conversely, sometimes St’át’imcets is more explicit. The single English sentence in (5) covers the meaning of three distinct St’át’imcets sentences, depending on the speaker’s source of evidence for the rain.

(5) It is raining.

Wa7 kwis. (if the speaker personally witnessed the rain)
Wa7 ku7 kwis. (if the speaker was told about the rain)
Wa7 k’a kwis. (if the speaker inferred that it was raining)

In this course we investigate the ways in which languages vary in their semantics and their pragmatics, and also the ways in which all languages are the same. Students will have the opportunity to work in groups on their own research projects.

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Course #: 447H – 001
Title: Python Programming for Linguistics
Pre-req: LING 311
Days/Times: Term 1 – T/Th – 11:00-12:30
Instructor: Scott Mackie

Description: This course is an introduction to the Python programming language. The focus is on using Python to solve linguistics problems, with a particular emphasis on phonology. By the end of the course, students should be able to write and debug simple programs on their own. A large amount of class time will be devoted to practical exercises in writing code.

Prerequisite LING311. No knowledge of programming languages is required.

A note about computer access: Access to a computer is necessary for this course. A laptop, or other portable device capable of running Python, is highly recommended, in order to take advantage of the in-class programming time. However, quizzes are written and do not require a computer, and the assignments are expected to be completed outside of class time, so a student with only a desktop computer can still complete all of the course work.

Course #: 447I-002
Title: Information Structure
Days/Times: T Th / 2 pm – 3:30 pm
Instructor: Michael Rochemont

Description: This course will provide a basic introduction to Information Structure (IS). We will examine the central notions of IS, particularly the notions given/new, topic, and focus, and their potential role in maintaining discourse coherence and cohesion. IS deals primarily with how the form of a linguistic expression (its syntax, prosody and morphology) reflects the temporary state of a discourse, and so is largely concerned with “information packaging” as opposed to strictly semantic content. A familiar example from English illustrates the types of problems explored. Consider the following four distinct possible pronunciations of the sentence ‘John likes Mary’: JOHN likes Mary, John likes MARY, John LIKES Mary, and JOHN likes MARY. The differences among these variants are said to be differences in the expression of focus. What precisely is it about each of these pronunciations that makes it phonetically and phonologically distinct from the others? Observe that each imposes distinct conditions on the discourse contexts in which it can be felicitously used. What are these conditions? How are they best characterized? How do other languages express these same variations in information packaging? Some languages do not use prosody at all, but instead use morphological or syntactic means to give expression to focus variants. Many languages, including English, use a combination of prosodic, morphological and/or syntactic markers to designate a focus. We will explore the literature on these and related IS topics. Prerequisites: preferably, LING 300, 311, 313, or permission of instructor.

Course #: 447J-001

Title: Who is a native speaker?

Days/Times: T Th / 11 am – 12:30 pm

Instructor: Molly Babel

Description: In this course we’ll explore definitions about what it means to be a native speaker of a language. Our readings will focus on the ways in which heritage speakers, monolinguals, and multilinguals process spoken language in an attempt to understand how language experiences and the acquisition at different developmental stages (infancy, childhood, adulthood) affects speech recognition processes.

2014 – 2015

Perception of Language — Eric Vatikiotis-Bateson

In this course, perception of language will be considered from two perspectives: historical considerations of perception in western science and philosophy and through the linkage between the perception and production of language performance. The empirical focus of the course will be on the production and perception of spoken language. In addition to selected classical readings, students will read research papers in experimental psychology and speech science, including some brain function studies. Prior basic knowledge of scientific method is preferred, but will be reviewed in the course along with an introduction to the specific methods applied to the study of spoken language as a skilled behavior. Prior knowledge of phonetics is also helpful, but not essential to this course.

Ideophones — Rose-Marie Déchaine

Ideophones are words that provide “a vivid representation of an idea” (Doke 1935), and are most often based on sensory events (e.g. touch, smell, sight, hearing, taste). Other terms used to describe ideophones include “sound symbolism” or “onomatopoeia”. This research seminar will explore the formal properties of ideophones in terms of how they are integrated into the grammar of a language.

Information Structure — Michael Rochemont

How and why do we use sentence stress in English sentences? More generally, how does the form of a sentence reflect or restrict aspects of the context in which it appears? Information Structure (IS) studies the relation between sentence form and utterance context, specifically the ways in which information is packaged in sentences, both prosodically and syntactically. This course examines the main elements of information packaging (topic, focus and givenness) and their expression in English and other languages. The course will develop and draw on knowledge in the areas of prosodic phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics, in the context of a research oriented seminar. Students will read, report on, and discuss articles in class, and conduct their own research on a language/topic of their choosing. The central aims of the course are to become familiar with basic notions of Information Structure, and to apply these notions in linguistic analysis and/or experimentation.

2013 – 2014

Perceptual Adaptation — Molly Babel

How do we understand those who speak with accents and dialects that we have never heard before? What are the limits to the mechanisms which allow for intelligibility in the face of phonetic variation? Do infants and toddlers exhibit the same perceptual flexibility as adults? In this course we will answer these questions through the study of a phenomenon called perceptual adaptation, which is the term used to describe listeners’ ability to understand the variable spoken world which surrounds them.

Information Structure — Michael Rochemont

This course will provide a basic introduction to Information Structure (IS). We will examine the central notions of IS, including Topic, Focus and Givenness, both their semantic/pragmatic interpretation and their manifestation in natural language prosody (e.g. sentence stress) and in syntax (e.g. clefts, topicalization, left/right dislocation). IS deals primarily with how the form of a linguistic expression reflects the temporary state of a discourse, and so is concerned with “information packaging” as opposed to strictly semantic content. A familiar example from English illustrates the types of problems explored. Consider the following four distinct possible pronunciations of the sentence ‘John likes Mary’: JOHN likes Mary, John likes MARY, John LIKES Mary, and JOHN likes MARY. The differences among these variants are said to be differences in the expression of focus. What precisely is it about each of these pronunciations that makes it phonetically and phonologically distinct from the others? Observe that each of these pronunciations imposes distinct conditions on the discourse contexts in which it can be felicitously used. What are these conditions? How are they best characterized? How do other languages express these same variations in information packaging? Some languages do not use prosody at all, but instead use morphological or syntactic means to give expression to focus variants. Many languages, including English, use a combination of prosodic and morphological and/or syntactic markers of focus. During the course, students will be expected to participate in seminar-type discussions, present literature reviews (both orally and in writing), conduct original research, participate in a research group, and present research findings (both orally and in writing).

Lexical Processing — Joe Stemberger

This course will explore the lexicon from a psycholinguistic perspective. How do speakers (and listeners, readers, and writers) locate words in the mental lexicon when speaking (and listening, reading, and writing)?

SCOPE: 1) We will address both the production and perception of lexical items. 2) The lexicon is a component of language which interfaces with all other components of language and many other components of cognition. Morphology will be a major topic, with lesser attention to phonology (and phonetics), semantics, and syntax. Memory and attention will weave through many weeks of the course. 3) One major issue has always been what the units of lexical representation are, and this has attracted more and more attention recently. We will cover this debate. 4) We will address lexical processing throughout the lifespan, from early in development (for both typically and atypically developing children), through adult processing, to the effects of aging and damage to or degeneration of the language areas of the brain. 5) A large proportion of human beings speak two or more languages, and the organization of bilingual language systems has been a hot topic for a long time. We will address the literature both within and beyond the Indo-European languages.

How to establish common ground: The grammar of Canadian ‘eh’ and other conformationals — Martina Wiltschko

Canadians are famous for using ‘eh’ (as in What a great game, eh?). But many languages of the world have particles with similar functions. We call these expressions confirmationals.

In this course we explore the grammar of confirmationals. What are the contexts in which speakers can or even must use confirmationals? When can confirmationals not be used? How are confirmationals integrated into a sentence? What types of linguistic means do languages exploit to construct confirmationals? What if anything is universal about the form, function, and distribution of confirmationals? And what is the range of variation within and across languages?

We will explore these questions by i) collecting and analysing relevant data from different dialects and languages and by ii) exploring the relevant literature which spans across many sub-disciplines of linguistics.

Beyond Rules and Constraints: Fuzzy Phonology — Kathleen Currie Hall

In this course, we will examine phonology from a very different viewpoint than that taken in Ling 200 and 311, where most phonological patterns are assumed to be categorical. What happens when a pair of sounds isn’t really contrastive OR allophonic? What do we do with phonological processes that seem to apply only some of the time? Are all words created phonologically equal?

It turns out that these kinds of “fuzzy” phenomena are quite common, and that there are a number of tools for describing and analyzing them. In this course, we will explore the roles of frequency, probability, statistics, and information theory in shaping and understanding phonological phenomena.

Coursework will involve reading and discussing original papers on these topics, practical applications of probabilistic tools to phonological data, and a final research paper that explores in depth some area of fuzzy phonology.