Linguistics 200 — Summer 2007
Introduction to Linguistic Thought

Lecturer:Jonathan North Washington
Office:Padelford A210
Office hours:Mondays, 13:00-14:00 and by appointment
Email: jonwash@u...
Lecture Times:MTWThF 9:40-11:50
Classroom:Thomson 125
Course website:
Course mailing list:


This course will introduce you to the field of linguistics: the scientific study and analysis of human language. In this course, you will learn both about the diversity of human language as well as some of its universal characteristics. The central goal of this course is to develop an understanding of what language is, how it's structured, and how it's represented in the mind. In pursuit of these goals, we will discuss answers to the following questions:

The first half of the course will be devoted to surveying some of the core subfields of linguistics: phonetics (the study of the perception and production of speech sounds), phonology (the study of sound systems and patterns), morphology (the study of word formation and structure), and syntax (the study of sentence structure). In the latter part of the course, we will take an interdisciplinary approach to studying language and how it relates to other fields, such as psychology, neurology, sociology, computer science, and the speech and hearing sciences.


The following textbook is required, and is available at the University Bookstore.

Homework will often be drawn from the textbook, as well as classroom activities, so please bring the book to class every day.


Class etiquette

Show up on time and turn off cell phones. You may eat and drink as long as it doesn't disturb other students and the lecturer, but there will also be a 5 minute break in the middle of class, at which point you may decide to eat and drink.

Class material

All material covered during lecture, class activities, as well as in assigned readings, homework, and quizzes, is required course content, and may be included in exams. It is each student's responsibility to attend all classes to learn the material covered. If you must miss a class, it is courteous to email your professor ahead of time, but it will be your responsibility to learn about missed material from classmates. It is not an instructor's responsibility to make up for your absence or re-teach the material.

The assigned readings are to be read in advance of the class dates they're assigned for. The readings complement the lectures and class activities and provide the necessary background; however, you should not assume that they will be fully summarized or reviewed in class. Students should be prepared to evaluate, integrate, or respond to the readings in class discussions.

Late assignments

Homework assignments must be handed in at the beginning of class on the day it is due or it is considered late. Any assignments turned in after the beginning of class but before class is dismissed will receive a late grade penalty. Assignments turned in after class is dismissed receive no credit. The lowest homework grade will be dropped.

Quizzes and exams may not be retaken, postponed, or taken early. Exceptions will be considered only for university-sanctioned events (verification required) or extraordinary circumstances (verification, such as a physician's note, will be required before the make-up event is scheduled). If you know you are going to miss an exam, please notify me as soon as possible before the exam so other arrangements can be made.

Academic Dishonesty

You are always expected to do your own work on assignments. On the other hand, for completing homeworks, you are allowed to collaborate with other students and use the internet as a resource; however, please cite any sources you use or other students you worked with on homeworks. In the end, you must always do your own work—this means that you must state things in your own words and show that you understand any ideas that you got from another source. Copying from another source constitutes plagiarism, and misrepresenting another student's work as your own is cheating. Please see the following URLs for the University's policies on these topics:

Course Grade Components


Homework (25%)

There will be approximately 6 homework assignments. Homework must be typed, stapled (no paperclips, folded corners, etc.) and handed in on paper before class begins on the due date (see late policy above). HW will not be accepted late or emailed. Please put your name and assignment number at the top of each homework.

You may collaborate on homework assignments' problem solving portions, but you must write your own homework paper, unique from other students'. I suggest you only take notes when working with friends and then write the homework down alone, in your own words. Work identical to another student's, even partially, will receive a score of zero.

No make-up or extra credit assignments will be given, and if you miss class, it is your responsibility to get the assignment(s) in order to complete it on time.

Quizzes (15%)

There will be approximately five quizzes given in this class. Each of these quizzes will cover materials from the time since the previous quiz or exam (i.e, they are not cumulative). They are meant to test your understanding of one or two particular topics and provide you with materials from which to study that topic—as such they will mostly be open-book and open-note quizzes. There will be no make-ups for quizzes without a valid excuse (see late assignment policy above).

Midterm Exam (25%)

There will be one mid-term exam involving the material covered up to that point. No make-up midterms will be given except following applicable university guidelines (see make-up policy above). The midterm will take place in the on July 3rd. (Additional information to come.)

Final Exam (30%)

The final will be cumulative (covering topics starting with the first day of class) and will be given during the last day of class (July 18th). No early or make-up finals will be given except following applicable university guidelines.

Participation (5%)

I cannot grade on attendance, but you will be graded on participation, and this requires attendance. Beyond simply showing up, you're encouraged to ask questions, answer questions, make relevant comments, contribute to discussions, etc.; this is an intro class to a complicated field—you will not be ridiculed for asking even simple questions. Also, please bring your textbook (Language Files—see above) to class, even though we won't always use it. You are encouraged to post relevant questions and responses to the class mailing list.