Current Courses

Fall 2017

AMST 2460          Language in the U.S.

TR 9:30-10:45

Ashley Williams

Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. is not (and never has been) linguistically homogenous: from dying and revitalized Native American languages to newly arrived immigrant languages, from regional and social dialect variation to innovation among adolescents and Hip Hop, the American language situation is diverse and changing. This course invites students to investigate this not-quite-melting-pot variety both through readings in current research and through small-scale field research. Topics covered in the course will include the origins and distinctions of American English, language controversies such as Ebonics and the English-Only movement, research in language attitudes and discrimination, topics in bilingualism and education, plus the latest studies in language issues involving different ethnicities, genders, sexualities, ages, and social classes. In this course we will pull material from a variety of sources (including films, literature, the media, and recent studies), and will employ a variety of approaches (linguistic, anthropological, sociological, historical, and more) as we investigate and debate what is uniquely “American” about the language situation in the United States. Fulfills the Second Writing Requirement.


ANTH 2400               Language and Culture

MW 10-10:50 + obligatory discussion section

Mark Sicoli

A survey of topics having to do with the relationship between language, culture, and society. We will consider both how language is described and analyzed by linguists and how evidence from language can shed light on a variety of social, cultural, and cognitive phenomena. Topics include: nature of language, origins of language, how languages change, writing systems, use of linguistic evidence to make inferences about prehistory, the effects of linguistic categories on thought and behavior, regional and social variation in language, and cultural rules for communication. Satisfies the College Non-Western perspectives requirement.


ANTH 2420               Language and Gender

MW 3:30-4:20 + obligatory discussion section

Ellen Contini-Morava

In many societies, features of pronunciation, vocabulary choice, and/or communicative style are used as social markers of gender identity and differentiation. We will take a cross-cultural perspective, comparing language use within the U.S. and in other parts of the world, especially non-Western societies. Questions to be addressed include: How does language use reflect or construct a person’s sex, gender, or sexual orientation? How do language differences, where they exist, contribute to the social construction of gender identity and difference in our and other cultures? How do these differences, or the belief in differences, affect people’s lives/social identities? What social factors besides gender relate to language differentiation, and how do they interact with gender? Is language itself sexist? If so, what can or should be done about it? Course requirements: a group project recording and analyzing a segment of natural conversation; an individual paper; reading checks; participation in discussion; a take-home final exam.


ANTH 2430               Languages of the World

MWF 9-9:50

Samuel Beer

This class introduces students to the diversity of human language. It surveys a range of similarities and differences shared by languages and presents three different ways that linguists use these similarities and differences to group languages together -- to classify them. In the course of a geographically organized tour of the world's languages, we will explore language families, language areas, and language types both large and small. For each region, we will focus on the structure and social situation of a set of representative languages. Finally, we will discuss the ongoing loss of linguistic and human diversity due to the global trend of shift from the use of minority languages to large languages of wider communication. Prerequisite: one year of a foreign language or permission of instructor.


ANTH 2440               Language and Cinema

MWF 11-11:50

Daniel Lefkowitz

This course takes a historical look at the role that speech and language have played in Hollywood movies. We will look at the artistic controversies, aesthetic theories, and technological challenges that attended the transition from silent to sound films as a backdrop to the main discussion of how gender, racial, ethnic, and national identities were constructed and reproduced through the representation of speech, dialect, and accent. This course provides an introduction to the study of semiotics but requires no knowledge of linguistics, or of film studies.


ANTH 2470/ MEST 2470     Reflections of Exile: Jewish Languages and Their Communities

MW 2-3:15

Daniel Lefkowitz

This course looks historically and comparatively at Jewish languages and the communities in which they have been used. We will explore general questions of the relationships among socio-cultural groups, their languages (or language varieties), and the literatures they produce by reading about Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic from literary, cultural, and historical perspectives. No prior knowledge of these languages is required.


ANTH 2541               Language, Culture, and Healing

TR 4-5:15

Anna Eisenstein

Healing takes place through a series of interactions – with one’s caregivers as well as with one’s own body and mind. In this course we will draw together works from linguistic anthropology and medical anthropology to explore the interplay of language and healing. We will map the ways particular therapeutic contexts, ways of speaking, and interactional roles configure medical authority and decision-making in a range of ethnographic settings.


ANTH 3455/7455   African Languages

W 3:30-6

Samuel Beer

This class explores the linguisitic diversity of Africa, with particular emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa. We will survey the classification of the languages of Africa, their linguistic structures (sound systems, word-formation, and syntax), and the sociocultural setting in which they are spoken. Topics within these modules will include migrations and expansions of different language groups across Africa, the use of linguistic data to reconstruct prehistory, the incredible structural complexity of languages such as Shilluk (known for typologically rare stem alternations) or the Khoisan languages (known for their clicks), the effects of colonialism on language use, the loss of African languages as their speakers shift to larger languages of wider commununication, and more. While lectures address general and comparative topics, each student will choose one language to focus on, using published material available in the library. This language will be the basis for major assignments. Some prior experience with linguistics is desirable (such as LNGS 3250/7010, ANTH 2400, or ANTH 7400), but the course will also be accessible to highly motivated students who have not taken a previous linguistics course. Fulfills the structure requirement for Linguistics majors and graduate students.


ANTH 4420/7420    Theories of Language

TR 2-3:15

Ellen Contini-Morava

We will survey a number of modern schools of linguistics, both American and European, trying to understand each approach in terms of its historical context, the goals it sets itself, the assumptions it makes about the nature of language, and the relation between theory and methodology. Grades will depend on: four or five written homework assignments that ask you to look at some data from a particular theoretical perspective; a take-home, open-book final exam; and evidence (from class discussion) that you have been doing the readings, which are an essential part of the course. This course fulfills the theory requirement for Linguistics majors and graduate students.


ANTH 5475               Multimodal Interaction

MW 2-3:15

Mark Sicoli

Students will build knowledge and practice of the analysis of peoples’ joint-engagement in embodied interactions. We examine the history of the use of film and video in interaction analysis and the affordances of these media for examining spatiotemporal configurations of talk, techniques of body action, and tool use in social interaction. How does action weave together multiple sensory modalities into semiotic webs linking interactions with more durative institutions of social life? What are the theoretical consequences for an anthropology that takes the multimodal construction of meaning seriously? Course includes workshops on video recording, and the transcription and coding of both verbal and non-verbal actions. Transcript analysis “data sessions” will be conducted throughout the term, allowing student to hone their analytical skills for video analysis. Students will work on projects incorporating video production and analysis.


ANTH 7400               Linguistic Anthropology

M 3:30-6

Eve Danziger

This is an advanced introduction to the anthropological study of language. No prior coursework in linguistics is expected, but the course is aimed at graduate students who will use what they learn in their own anthropologically oriented research. Topics include an introduction to such basic concepts in linguistic anthropology as language and world-view, the nature of symbolic meaning, universals and particulars in language, language and social identity, the social construction of reality through everyday conversation, and the study of poetic language. Through readings and discussion, the implications of each of these topics for the general conduct of anthropology will be addressed. Evaluation is based on take-home essays and problem-sets which are assigned throughout the semester. The course fulfills the linguistics distribution requirement for Anthropology graduate students and the theory requirement for Linguistics graduate students.


CLASS 3300/5500              Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics

MWF 2-2:50

Coulter George

Languages as superficially different as English, Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit in fact all developed from a single “proto-language,” called Proto-Indo-European. This course will explore the following questions: What was this proto-language like? How do we know what it was like? By what processes did it develop into the various daughter languages? How can we trace words as diverse as wit, idea, video, and Veda back to a common source? Familiarity with Greek or Latin is recommended but not required. This course fulfills the historical linguistics requirement for Linguistics majors and graduate students.


EDHS 4300               Psycholinguistics and Communication

TR 3:30-4:45

Filip Loncke

This course focuses on the psychological processes that underlie the acquisition and the use of language. There is an emphasis on the interaction between linguistic skills and other cognitive skills. The course also looks at flexibility of language and language use, and the influence of psycholinguistic processes on reading and writing, the social use of language, and language in other modalities. There will be a focus on learnability and teachability issues. Content: the course will provide insight in (1) acquisition and learnability,  (2) the biopsychology of language (neuro-linguistics, linguistic genetics) (3) the microgenesis of speech (the Levelt model), (4) perceptual processes, (5) expressive mechanisms, (6) multimodality, (7) bilingualism and variation, (8) interaction between language and cognition (9) a psycholinguistic approach to breakdown (i.e., pathology).


ENMD 5010               Introduction to Old English

TR 11-12:15 

Peter Baker

This course will introduce you to English language and literature from before circa AD 1100-- the language of Beowulf, The Dream of the Rood, The Wanderer, and a number of other classics of medieval literature. We will begin with intensive study of the language (no prior knowledge of Old or Middle English is assumed) and the reading of simple texts. By the middle of the term we will have proceeded to more difficult prose texts and to poetry. Assignments will include (in addition to the readings) frequent exercises, bi-weekly quizzes, a final exam, and a short final paper. This course is a prerequisite for ENMD 5200, Beowulf.


FREN 3030                Phonetics: The Sounds of French

TR 11-12:15

TR 12:30-1:45

Gladys Saunders

FREN 3030 is an introductory course in French phonetics.  It provides basic concepts in articulatory phonetics and phonological theory, and offers students techniques for improving their own pronunciation.  The course will cover the physical characteristics of individual French sounds; the relationship between these sounds and their written representation (orthography); the rules governing the pronunciation of "standard French"; the most salient phonological features of selected French varieties; phonetic differences between French and English sounds; and to some extent, 'la musique du français', i.e., prosodic phenomena (le rythme, l'accent, l'intonation, la syllabation).  Practical exercises in 'ear-training' (the perception of sounds) and 'phonetic transcription' (using IPA) are also essential components of this dynamic course. Prerequisite: FREN 2020 (or equivalent). Course taught in French. FREN 3030 counts for major/minor credit in French and in the Linguistics Program.


LING 3400/ 7400                  Structure of English

MW 10-10:50 + obligatory discussion section

Janay Crabtree

This course provides students with a foundation in the grammar of the English language. Topics include the phonology, morphology, syntax, with a focus on structural analysis. Students will gain confidence in discussing the form, function, and usage of linguistic structures. Students will also have an opportunity to research topics related to structure for presentation. Undergraduates will participate in group research projects, and graduate students will be expected to develop a conference-quality presentation. Where possible, topics will also be related to the teaching and tutoring of English as a second language including interlanguage analysis and feedback. This course fulfills the structure requirement for Linguistics majors and graduate students.


LING 5101                 ESL Teaching Practicum: Language

W 1-2

Elizabeth Wittner & Janay Crabtree

Through this 1-credit course, students focus on the topic of language in an L2, while gaining experience in the practice of English-language teaching to international students, faculty, and staff at the University. This experience is an excellent opportunity to gain teaching experience under the supervision of an experienced mentor. For every 1 hour of credit, students must meet with an instructor for 5 classroom & practice 33 hours.


LING 5102                 ESL Teaching Practicum: Culture


Janay Crabtree & Elizabeth Wittner

Through this 1-credit course, students focus on the topic of culture in ESL, while gaining experience in the practice of English-language teaching to international students, faculty, and staff at the University. This experience is an excellent opportunity to gain teaching experience under the supervision of an experienced mentor. For every 1 hour of credit, students must meet with an instructor for 5 classroom & practice 33 hours.


LING 5103                 ESL Teaching Practicum: Writing

W 11-12       

Jane Boatner & Janay Crabtree

Through this 1-credit course, students focus on the topic of writing in an L2, while gaining experience in the practice of English-language teaching to international students, faculty, and staff at the University. This experience is an excellent opportunity to gain teaching experience under the supervision of an experienced mentor. For every 1 hour of credit, students must meet with an instructor for 5 classroom & practice 33 hours.


LING 5409               Acoustic Phonetics

TR 5-6:15

Samuel Beer

Spoken language involves two parties: speakers, who move around a range of organs between their lungs and their nose, and listeners, who derive meaning from a series of air molecules that crashes against their ear drums. This course investigates the intermediate phase in this mystifying process: the physical properties of the sounds produced by speakers and perceived by listeners. We will consider questions including: How do we produce speech? What are the physical properties of the speech sounds that we produce, and how to they differ from phoneme to phoneme? What physical properties do listeners attend to when trying to perceive speech? How do the processes of speech production and speech perception influence the sound patterns of language? We will also be acquiring practical perception and production skills and learning experimental and analytical techniques that enable us to address these (and other) questions.


LNGS 3250/ 7010                Introduction to Linguistic Theory and Analysis

MWF 11-11:50 + optional 1 credit discussion section

Mark Elson

This course introduces students to language as a system and the theoretical underpinnings of the analytic procedures used by linguists. It proceeds from the assumption that the goal of language is to communicate (i.e., to convey meaning via messages), and investigates assumptions relating to the manner in which it accomplishes this goal. This course is required for all Linguistics majors and graduate students.


RUSS 5030               Advanced Russian Grammar: Phonology and Morphology

MWF 9-9:50

Mark Elson

This course aims to provide a thorough review and elaboration of the spelling and inflectional morphology of Contemporary Standard Russian. Its aim is to help students, including those who are native speakers, acquire and consolidate a level of proficiency in the structure of Russian suitable for ordinary scholarly and instructional purposes at American universities. Although its content will help students in their preparation for the MA and PhD Russian Language Proficiency Tests at the University of Virginia, such preparation is not the goal of the course. This course fulfills the structure requirement for Linguistics majors and graduate students.


SPAN 3000               Phonetics

TR 2-3:15

Joel Rini

Spanish Phonetics provides an introduction to the sound system of both Peninsular and Latin American Spanish. Class discussion focus on how the sounds of Spanish are produced from an articulatory point of view, and how these sounds are organized and represented in the linguistic competence of their speakers. When appropriate, comparisons will be made between Spanish and English or Spanish and other (Romance and non-Romance) languages. This course seeks to improve the student’s pronunciation. Prerequisites: SPAN 2020. Conducted in Spanish.


SPAN 4202               Hispanic Sociolinguistics

TR 11-12:15

Omar Velázquez-Mendoza

This course examines the Spanish language within its social context by exploring the following topics: language versus dialect; the standard language; linguistic variation and its main variables: geography, gender, age, etc.; language variation and language change; language contact and bilingualism; Spanish in the US; code switching. Course conducted in Spanish. Prerequisite: SPAN 3200 or 3000.


SPAN 7220               History of the Spanish Language

TR 2-3:15

Omar Velázquez-Mendoza

This course traces the historical development of the Spanish language (mainly) from its origins as a spoken Latin variety to the present. Topics include: The relationship between language change and language variation; the Indo-European language family; Romanization of the Iberian Peninsula; Classical vs. 'Vulgar' Latin; Spanish among the Romance varieties; Visigothic and Arab influence on the Spanish language; Latin and Medieval Spanish word order; Latin/Romance Diglossia in the High Middle Ages; Koineization in Medieval Spanish; Renaissance and Colonial Spanish. Prerequisite: Graduate standing. No previous coursework in linguistics required. Conducted in Spanish. Fulfills the historical requirement for the M.A. program.