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Undergraduate Language and Linguistics 2021-2022

LN1003: ENGLISH STRUCTURE AND USE

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

This course opens up new ways for students to think about language by introducing them to the fundamentals of English linguistics. Students will learn how to identify and analyse the major "building blocks" of language in phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Examples for illustration and discussion will be drawn from varieties of English spoken in the British Isles and worldwide, with lectures and tutorials geared to providing students with an active vocabulary with which to discuss language, and essential tools with which to analyse its structure and function.

LN1502: ENGLISH PAST AND PRESENT

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

How do we get from Chaucer to Twitter? From Beowulf to Beyoncé? This course will look at the development of English over the last millennium and beyond, examining language changes in sound, structure and meaning. Students will also be introduced to present-day sociolinguistic study, and how it can contribute to our understanding of language in the modern world and in the past. 

LN2008: LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY

30 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

Language is central to our humanity. Language and society are inextricably linked. Language unites; language divides. This course will develop your understanding of the social nature of language, providing insight into, among other things, the relationship between gender and language, language death and the art of persuasion.

LN2510: VARIETIES OF ENGLISH

30 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

The English language spoken in different places and by different groups of people varies hugely and this variation is a perennial topic of interest whenever people from different backgrounds meet. This course will survey a range of varieties of English, both from across the British Isles and from around the world, and will explore how these varieties differ from each other as well as what unites them. In order to do this, we will consider the sounds of English, standard and non-standard word morphology, variation in sentence structure and differences in lexical choice.

LN3009: UNWINDING WORDS

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

Words are at the heart of our existence. They allow us to describe our memories and our experiences; even our dreams. This course explores word meaning and word construction. It considers how words change meaning across time, space and society. It introduces you to the methods employed in constructing dictionaries and thesauri.

LN3014: LANGUAGE ACQUISITION

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

Language acquisition is a human feat like no other: accomplished by children in their early years with no apparent effort, but sometimes incredibly difficult for adults. This course looks at how people come to know languagesusing existing research in the field and real-life examples to examine stages of linguistic development and theoretical approaches to this hotly debated complex process.  

LN3501: PHONETICS

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

At pre-honours, you have focused on articulatory phonetics, gaining an understanding of how speech sounds are produced in the vocal tract. LN3501 links this knowledge to an investigation of acoustic phonetics: the analysis of soundwaves in order to identify different phonetic features. Each week there is a seminar to introduce phonetic theory, followed by a practical in which you will learn how to use the freely available Praat software to conduct acoustic analysis of your own voice before extending this to compare different voices. Assessment involves a combination of theoretical and practical work.

LN3506: DISSECTING SENTENCES

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

We all string words together without thinking, but how does this process actually work? What makes the difference between a meaningful phrase and word salad? In this course we will explore the structure and meaning of sentences through the study of syntax and semantics. Students will gain tools to describe and analyse sentences in unexpected ways, drawing on a mixture of their own insights and data from a variety of languages to get to grips with the mechanisms that allow us to go beyond single-word utterances and communicate complex messages.

LN3510: DISCOURSE ANALYSIS

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

Students will be introduced to a range of conceptions and perspectives on discourse, drawn from disciplines such as linguistics, social psychology, sociology, and communication studies. They will examine what the study of discourse reveals about the nature of language, social interaction, power relations, and the construction of meaning. They will learn the basic principles of analytical methods for discourse analysis, including:

  • text linguistics
  • narrative analysis
  • conversation analysis
  • critical discourse analysis

Students will also gain practical experience in applying these approaches to a variety of discourses, including conversations, interviews, the media, academic writing, literary texts, and advertisements.

LN4007: GRAMMATICAL ATTITUDES

15 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

What is grammar? What is grammatical? Who decides? And how? This course will explore different approaches to grammar, from the layperson’s to the linguist’s, and how these impact society and the study of language. We will evaluate and experiment with methods for judging grammaticality, giving students greater insight into this essential but difficult to pin down concept.

LN4010: MINIMALISM AND MICROVARIATION

15 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

A drive for simplicity and efficiency in syntactic analysis has led to the Minimalist Programme, an updated take on generative grammar. At the same time, many linguists are now tapping into the possibilities of morphosyntactic variation between dialects: for instance, contrasts between the ‘Standard’ construction in (1) and the ‘non-Standard’ Scottish form in (2).

(1) The cat wants to be fed

(2) The cat wants fed

Such small grammatical differences can provide insight into broader syntactic theory. This course will use data from different varieties of English to give students a deeper understanding of current questions and approaches to syntax.

LN4012: DISSERTATION IN LANGUAGE AND LINGUISTICS

30 credits

Level 4

Full Year

Once you have successfully completed three years of university-level study of Linguistics, this course allows you to develop and carry out an independent piece of research on a topic of your choice. It might be that a particular taught course has inspired you to explore a topic in more depth; your own reading might have prompted you to wonder about a particular question. You will be supervised by a member of the department who will be happy to give advice and support as you complete your dissertation of 7000-8000 words.

The Dissertation spans HS1 and HS2.

LN4015: LANGUAGE AND THE PROFESSIONS

15 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

The course explores a variety of
professional communities of practice from the point of view of language use.
Topics discussed include:

  • Language and Law
  • Language and Law Enforcement
  • Language and Health Care
  • Doctor-Patient Interaction
  • Talking Therapies
  • Organisational Communication Talk and Organisational Interaction
  • Structure of Organisational Communications
  • Persuasive Discourse (Advertising, etc.).

Students will apply a variety of
linguistic methods to reveal the relationship between language, communicative
practice and professional activities, in order to increase their understanding
of language and enhancing professional practice.

LN4016: PERCEPTUAL DIALECTOLOGY

15 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

As linguists, we have a lot to say about language; but so too do ‘normal’ people. While other areas of linguistic study are concerned with analysis of speech production, perceptual dialectology is interested in what people have to say about language (which, usually, is a quite a lot!)In this course, we will investigate non-linguists’ perceptions of regional differences and how their beliefs about language correspond to both wider social issues and documented linguistic evidence. 

LN4504: LANGUAGE CONTACT AND CHANGE IN LANGUAGE

15 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

Linguistic contact is everywhere and eternal. English lexis is a particularly good example of this: less than half of the vocabulary of the present-day language is of native origin. But examples can be found elsewhere which are even more striking. Michif, for instance, has French noun morphology but Cree verb morphology. Here in northern Scotland, the pronunciation of the first consonant in the local equivalent of ‘what’ – fit – probably came about under Gaelic influence. This course will provide students with the theoretical and methodological insights which underlie the study of linguistic contact.

LN4505: SOCIOPHONETICS

15 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

If you took LN3002 Phonetics, you developed skills in acoustic phonetic analysis. The rapidly developing field of Sociophonetics applies these techniques to address some profound questions about the links between phonetic variation and change and the structure of society. Through a combination of reading recent research papers and conducting focused practical work, we will investigate how speaker’s construction of their identities in terms of gender, place and social class is connected to their use of specific phonetic variants. We’ll also consider perception: find out how the presence of a toy kangaroo can make someone sound more Australian!

LN4506: ADOPT A DIALECT: FINDING RESOURCES AND PLANNING RESEARCH

15 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

Research on dialects of any language is always provisional. More information regularly becomes available; features which were once central to the dialect's system become increasingly marginalised in the language of younger students. A fresh analysis is always welcome; you can provide it. In this course you will catalogue what knowledge we presently have of a dialect, analyse what is missing and suggest a research project which will help increase our knowledge. While you will be given guidance, what dialect you research will be your own choice.

LN4509: PHONOLOGIES OF ENGLISHES

15 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course aims to introduce students to a range of phonological approaches, beginning with the classical phonemicist approach, which students have encountered in pre-honours courses, and moving on to consider topics including the role of syllables and metre and the development of models in generative phonology including differences between rule-based phonologies and constraint-based theories.

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