Current Courses

Fall 2019

ANTH 2400           Language and Culture

TR 5-6:15 + obligatory discussion section

Lise Dobrin

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 2430           Languages of the World

MW 9-9:50 + obligatory discussion section

Armik Mirzayan

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

TR 9:30-10:20 + obligatory discussion section

Daniel Lefkowitz

This course looks at how dialogue, speech, and language work in Hollywood movies. We will cover 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 gendered, racial, ethnic, and national identities were (and are now) constructed and reproduced through the representation of speech, dialect, and accent. The course provides an introduction to socio-linguistics and film semiotics but assumes no prior knowledge of either linguistics or film studies.


ANTH 2541           Technology, Language, and Society

TR 12:30-1:45

Michelle Morgenstern

This course provides a linguistic anthropological perspective on technology and communication. Beginning with the development of the written word and concluding with smart phones and social media, the course will explore the use of various communication technologies in both Western and non-Western contexts in order to better understand the role that language and technology play in politics, power, identity, and community.


ANTH 3450/7450           Native American Languages

MWF 9-9:50

Mark Sicoli

Introduces students to Indigenous languages of the Americas, the methods that linguists and anthropologists use to record and analyze them, and how communities reflect on, care for, and use their languages to build social, cultural, and cognitive worlds. Examines the use and production of grammars, dictionaries, text collections, and linguistic corpora of individual languages and affords comparative insight into the diversity among the languages of Native America in historic and contemporary perspectives. Fulfills the Language Structure requirement for the Linguistics program.


ANTH 5470           Language and Identity

T 2-4:30

Daniel Lefkowitz

This course explores the complex relationships between language and identity. In anthropology, cultural studies, and literary criticism, issues of social identity have become a central concern, and much of this attention has focused on language as an important site for the struggle over identity. In linguistics, on the other hand, quantitative and social linguists have long looked to categories of social identity to help explain language structure and change. This course explores the convergence of these two trends: the view that language is central in the construction, negotiation, and expression of social identities. Discourse, seen as the conjunction of cultural and linguistic processes related to identity, constitutes an organizing theme for this course. Throughout the course, readings will juxtapose social theoretic and linguistic treatments of identity, and one goal will be to critically appraise theoretical frameworks (from both domains) that providing promising technologies for investigating and describing the conjunction of language and identity.


ANTH 5541           Linguistic Typology

W 5-7:30

Armik Mirzayan

This is a course on the study of the similarities and variations observed between human languages. We will address such questions as: How do languages vary from each other? What are the limits to crosslinguistic variation? What factors motivate these limits? How do languages of the world group in terms of the grammatical features that they have in common? After an overview of the structural units used to encode meaning in language, we will explore variation in morphology, variation in syntax, and the relationship between variation in the two domains. Finally, we will briefly survey typological approaches to other phenomena, including phonology, lexical semantics, and language death. Fulfills the Theory requirement for Linguistics majors and graduate students.


ANTH 7400           Linguistic Anthropology

R 6-8:30

Eve Danziger

This course is an advanced introduction to the study of language from an anthropological perspective that presupposes no prior coursework in linguistics. The aim is to prepare graduate students to use what they learn in their own research. Topics include language structure, the nature of indexicality and the use of linguistic symbols, the linguistic shaping of worldview, language as a form of social action, ethnographic approaches to study of language, the social meaningfulness of linguistic differences, storytelling in social life, and more. Students will explore the implications of these topics through readings, discussion, and an application of linguistic anthropological concepts to a particular ethnographic setting chosen in consultation with the instructor. The course fulfills the Linguistics requirement for the Anthropology graduate program and the Theory requirement for the Linguistics graduate program.


ASL 3450           Comparative Linguistics: ASL and English

TR 9:30-10:45


*** Note: course information for ASL 3450 may be subject to change *** Describes spoken English and ASL (American Sign Language) on five levels: phonological, morphological, lexical, syntactic, and discourse and compares/contrasts them using real-world examples. Describes major linguistic components and processes of English and ASL. Introduces basic theories regarding ASL structure. Emphasizes ASL's status as a natural language by comparing/contrasting similarities and unique differences between the two languages. Fulfills the Structure requirement for the Linguistics major.


EDHS 4300           Psycholinguistics and Communication

TR 3:30-4:45

Filip Loncke

This course focuses on the psychological processes that underlie the use of language and speech. Do humans have a linguistic brain, or cognitive brain that can do linguistic tricks? Is language competence different from other human skills? Is language a biological, a psychological, a cultural phenomenon, or all of these? Why do people speak with an accent? Why do we forget words (and why do we remember them)? The course will provide insight in (1) the psychological reality of linguistic models; (2) the origins of language, (3) neurolinguistics, (4) the relation between sound, speech, and language, (5) the nature of the mental lexicon and lexical access, (6) processing syntactic structures, (7) the trajectory from intention to articulation, (8) bilingualism and language diversity, (9) the psycholinguistics of language breakdown, (10) the psychology of everyday use of language.


ENGL 5100           Introduction to Old English

TR 2-3:15

Peter Baker

In this course you will learn to read the language of Beowulf—that is, the English language as preserved in sources from around 700 to 1100. After a brief introduction to the language (which is alarming at first glance but much easier to learn than any foreign language), readings will include prose excerpts from historical and religious sources and several verse classics, including The Battle of Maldon, The Wanderer, The Dream of the Rood, and The Wife’s Lament. Work for the course includes bi-weekly quizzes, a brief final exam, and a short paper.


FREN 3030           Phonetics

MWF 11-11:50

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 French 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 ‘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. Taught in French. Counts for major/minor credit in French and in Linguistics. Prerequisite: FREN 2020 (or equivalent).


FREN 3509           Topics in French Linguistics: Introduction to Phonological Variation in French

MWF 12-12:50

Gladys Saunders

Language variation is not an exceptional phenomenon in living languages; it is fundamental and permanent. This introductory course considers selected aspects of variation in French at the phonological level. It will focus on inter-speaker variation (variation between speakers, i.e., according to geographical and social characteristics) as well as intra-speaker variation (variation within the same speaker, i.e., according to register, or style). The course will attempt to answer questions such as the following: What aspects of the pronunciation of French vary (vowels, consonants, liaison, /ə/ . . .) and why? What do the phonological systems of different varieties of French have in common? How can one [or can one] identify the geographical region of France from which one comes just by listening to his/her pronunciation? How do non-linguists (as opposed to linguists) perceive variation in French? Why do some non-Parisian French speakers perceive their own variety of French as inferior? In addition to providing students with useful knowledge to support their future studies in French, linguistics, communication, cognitive sciences, global studies, and the like, this course offers students the opportunity to practice their oral French, improve their listening skills and engage actively in a number of individual and group projects (involving ‘authentic’ French). Course taught entirely in French, though some reading assignments are in English Prerequisites: FREN 3030 (phonetics) or comparable course.


INST 1550-001           Building the Perfect Language: The History and Power of Conlangs

MW 5-6:15

Will Norton (faculty sponsor Lise Dobrin)

What do Game of Thrones, Star Trek, and the Lord of the Rings have in common with utopian peace movements, religious mystics, or Filipino guerrillas? All have made use of constructed languages. In this course we will explore the history of artificial languages, from their earliest known instances in the 12th century to the Internet-era explosion that has given rise to “conlanging” as a way of life. What are constructed languages? Why do people make them? Are we all speaking them without knowing it? And what do they tell us about the past and future of language itself? These are among the questions that motivate this course. We will pay special attention to Esperanto, the most successful constructed language in history, and to more recent developments in language invention. Note: INST courses are considered as ‘outside the College’ and are taught only on a CR/NC basis. A student may count no more than 3.0 credits of INST course work among the 120 credits offered for the B.A. and B.S. in the College.


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 1-1:50

Elizabeth Wittner

Through this 1-credit course, students focus on the topic of teaching oral English language, 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 the instructor for 5 classroom & practice 33 hours.


LING 5102           ESL Teaching Practicum: Culture

W 1-1:50

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 12-12:50

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. Students will develop writing lessons and plans, tutor language learners in various writing venues, implement lesson plans, log practice hours, and learn and reflect on how to give effective feedback for different types of writing. 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

M 7-9:30

Armik Mirzayan

To acquire a good understanding of speech sounds, we must understand how speech sounds are produced, the physical nature of the sounds, and how the ear and brain work to recognize sounds as carriers of meaning distinguishing units in speech. In this course we investigate these processes by focusing on three broad questions: (1) How do we produce speech in communication? (2) How do we perceive speech in communication? and (3) How does the nature of these processes influence the sound patterns of languages in the world? In the process of doing so will also be learning experimental and analytical techniques that enable us to carefully investigate these (and other related) questions.


LNGS 3250/7010           Introduction to Linguistic Theory and Analysis

MWF 11-11:50 + optional 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 11-12:15

Emily Scida

Spanish Phonetics provides an introduction to the sound system of both Peninsular and Latin American Spanish. Class discussions 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) languages. This course seeks to improve the students’ pronunciation. Taught in Spanish. Prerequisite: SPAN 3010 or equivalent.


SPAN 4530           Spanish vis-à-vis Other Romance Languages

MW 2-3:15

Omar Velázquez-Mendoza

Drawing on a comparative approach to language change, this course traces the primitive origins and historical development of the major linguistic changes that took place in the passage from Latin to Spanish and other Romance (i.e., Latin-derived) languages, mainly Portuguese, Italian, and French. Topics to be explored include: Expected and unexpected phonological changes in the neo-Latin language continuum; the role of analogy and ‘contamination’ in language change; etymological and non-etymological nasalization; the object + verb to verb + object shift; the prepositional direct object; expressions of possession; pronominal replacement and duplication of direct and indirect objects. Prerequisite: SPAN 3010 or equivalent AND SPAN 3000 or SPAN 3200 or any other linguistics course focusing on Spanish or on any other language.


SPAN 7220           History of the Spanish Language

MW 3:30-4:45

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; Visigothic and Arab influence on the Spanish language; Latin and Medieval Spanish word order; Latin/Romance Diglossia during the High Middle Ages; Expressions of possession in Medieval Spanish; Direct object marking in Old Spanish; New World Spanish. Prerequisite: Graduate standing. No previous coursework in linguistics required. Conducted in Spanish. Fulfills the historical requirement for the M.A. program.