Curriculum | Introduction to Linguistics | Linguistics and philosophy | MYTH OCW (2023)

course meeting time

Lectures: 2 sessions per week, 1.5 hours per session

Recitation: 1 session/week, 1 hour/section


There are no prerequisites for this course.

course description

This course will provide some answers to basic questions about the nature of human language. During the course we will study the human language as a complex but legally regulated psychological system in different ways. A large part of the course will be devoted to an in-depth study of some key aspects of the system; we will also use individual courses to discuss many other issues, including how language is acquired, how language changes over time, how language is endangered, and more.


The assigned readings are listed inreadingpage; you should also reviewlecture slides.There is no textbook for this course. If you want a textbook, this is a good one:

(Video) Lecture 23: Historical Linguistics

  • O'Grady, William, John Archibald, Mark Aronoff og Janie Rees-Miller (2017).Modern Linguistics: An Introduction.New York: Bedford/St. Martina.

It could be our textbook if we have to have one...but it's not enough to justify the purchase. It can be a useful resource, but you have to remember that from time to time we contradict what it says. As a general rule, if you think there is a contradiction between us and the book, then we are right and the book is wrong (although if you notice such contradictions, it is worth asking; there may be some errors, either your or ours).

More generally, if there is any conflict between the information on the course slides and the information you have obtained from another source, including sources we have uploaded to the course website, you should check the information on the course slides. We reserve the right to deduct points for answers that contradict the information on the slide, even if your answer is consistent with information you have obtained from other sources.

Admission and participation

This classroom is designed for recording lectures, slides and whiteboards. I've never used this system before so I don't know how well the recording will work. These recordings will be freely available to all:

In either case, you do not need to give me a reason why the recording is necessary. If you have to miss class for a reason that S3 can help with then contact S3 and they'll send me an email that won't give me any details about your situation - it will just say something like "[ Your [name] has contacted us and we agree to give them access to the lecture recording [date]."

(Video) Lec 1 | MIT 9.00SC Introduction to Psychology, Spring 2011

Homework: Task groups and essays

You will have regular homework.

set problems

Most weeks you will be assigned a series of problems. Most of the questions in these assignments will require you to use and extend the concepts and analytical techniques discussed in class and readings to draw and justify conclusions about the data we present in real language (sometimes a little simplified) .

Some of these problem sets also require fieldwork in the language. For these tasks, we will ask you to find someone who speaks a language that you do not speak and have never learned, and learn something specific about that language from that speaker. You should use the same language in each question if possible (but not required).


hated wordsCourses must require a minimum of 5000 words in writing, divided into 3-5 assignments. Of these assignments, at least one must be revised and resubmitted. HASS CI courses should also provide students with ample opportunities for oral expression through presentations, student-led discussions or class participation. To ensure sufficient emphasis on students' writing and sufficient opportunities for oral expression, the maximum number of students per part of the HASS CI subject 18.

(Video) How to Speak

You must write three relatively short articles:

  • Critical summary (1000 words)
  • Research proposal (1000 words)
  • Travel report (3000 words)

You will also submit an additional Polish paper, which can be a revised version of any of the three papers. It is your choice which paper you want to revise. The nature of the revised polished paper will emphasize the quality and thoughtfulness of the revision.

As the semester progresses, we will discuss the topics in these papers. Your opportunities for "oral presentation" will occur during the field portion of the course, as well as in class and recitation.

Two writing consultants fromCenter for Writing and Communicationassigned to this course, will be available to help you develop, structure and revise your dissertation. We strongly encourage all students to use this resource, and in some cases we may need it for your benefit as a writer.

(Video) 18. Language I

Expiration date:

Question sets are published on Tuesdays and handed in the following Tuesday, whenTuesdayunderstood to end at dawn Wed. Papers must be submitted as indicated in the syllabus (they may be revised as needed, so keep an eye on the course website).

We aim to correct the discussion assignments by Friday. Returning documents may take longer.

You can postpone the submission of work for up to three days. You don't have to tell us why; Please let us know in advance that your work will be delayed. You can also delay sending an issue for up to three days if you notify us in advance.

How to submit problem sets and papers

Question sets and essays must be submitted online as PDF files, created directly in the word processor of your choice, or scanned from legible originals. Please do not send us any other type of electronic file. If you feel the need to submit assignments non-electronically, please contact your recitation teacher first.

(Video) Lecture 24: Endangered Languages

If you have any problems with an assignment, please do not hesitate to contact your recitation tutor or tutor in person or by email. We are happy to help.


  • Problem set: 40% [minimum drop in problem set score]
  • Special: 60%

Honest cooperation policy

Please read these guidelines carefully. In cases of academic misconduct, ignorance of this policy will not be used as an excuse.

  • General discussions with other students about the concepts and techniques associated with the problem sets are acceptable and encouraged ("Remind me, how do I know if something is allophone?") - but youmoraFind practical solutions to your problems yourselfmoraWrite it yourself. Collaboration on questions is not allowed.
  • Print and online resources shouldAndAdvice related to problem sets (unless otherwise specified in the instructions). If you want to know more about a language or homework problem, we'd love to hear from you - but that's how it should bebackYou have submitted your problem set.
  • All printed and online sources referred to during the thesis must be clearly identified in the text of the thesis and listed in the References section. All citations must be identified and cited in full.
  • If we determine that the above honesty and cooperation policy has been violated in an assignment, we will take appropriate action. The assignment receives a minimum grade of zero and will be considered as not submitted. We also do not hesitate to forward the case to the Student Rights Committee and the Disciplinary Committee.

If you haven't already, familiarize yourself with MITCode of Academic Integrity.


Why is language and linguistics important? ›

Linguistics helps us understand our world

Apart from simply understanding the intricacies of world languages, this knowledge can be applied to improving communication between people, contributing to translation activities, assisting in literacy efforts, and treating speech disorders.

What do you learn in a linguistics class? ›

Linguistics is a major that provides insight into one of the most intriguing aspects of human knowledge and behavior. Majoring in linguistics means learning about many aspects of human language, including sounds (phonetics, phonology), words (morphology), sentences (syntax), and meaning (semantics).

How do linguists see language? ›

Linguists also seek to understand the meaning behind words and combinations of words in the field of semantics. The meanings of these combinations when they interact with contextual information, and how they are produced and perceived, are the focus of a subfield known as pragmatics.

What is the study of linguistics all about? ›

Linguistics is the scientific study of language, and its focus is the systematic investigation of the properties of particular languages as well as the characteristics of language in general.

Is linguistics a hard subject? ›

Is linguistics tough to study? In a word, yes. It takes linguistics undergraduates 1–2 years to reframe their thinking about language to become functional descriptive linguists. The good news is that the various sub-disciplines - phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, sociolinguistics, cognitive science, etc.

Why do we need to teach linguistic philosophy? ›

This theory of learning has important implications for how educators should teach students. It means that teachers should give students opportunities to use language as a tool for learning and provide lots of feedback so students can understand how they are using language to think, learn, and communicate.

Do linguists know a lot of languages? ›

But while many linguists do speak multiple languages—or at least know a fair bit about multiple languages—the study of linguistics means much more than this. Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Many topics fall under this umbrella.

How many languages should a linguist know? ›

Linguists learn the languages and they are considered better informed if they are well versed in multiple languages. But, it does not mean that they should speak so many languages. On average, the linguists speak 2? 3 languages.

What are the 4 linguistic features of a language? ›

  • Lexical Features. Lexical features deal with the use of informal vocabulary in online communication. ...
  • Orthographic Features. Orthographic features deal with the use of the alphabet, capital letters, spelling, ...
  • Grammatical Features. ...
  • Discourse Features. ...
  • Paralinguistic and Graphic Features. ...
  • Other features.

What is the major subject in linguistics? ›

Linguistics majors can expect introductory coursework in linguistic theory and analysis as well as classes in core areas including phonology, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics and language acquisition.

What is linguistics in simple words? ›

Linguistics is the study of language - how it is put together and how it functions. Various building blocks of different types and sizes are combined to make up a language. Sounds are brought together and sometimes when this happens, they change their form and do interesting things.

What are the three main branches of linguistics? ›

Morphology - the study of the formation of words. Syntax - the study of the formation of sentences. Semantics - the study of meaning.

What skills do you need to study linguistics? ›

  • Cross-Cultural Skills. Relating language to social, cultural and historical contexts. ...
  • Communication Skills. Dealing with complexities of meaning and social uses of language. ...
  • Analytical Skills. ...
  • Research Skills. ...
  • Cross-Cultural Skills. ...
  • Communication Skills. ...
  • Analytical Skills. ...
  • Research Skills.

What is a linguistics class like? ›

Linguistics is a major that gives you insight into one of the most intriguing aspects of human knowledge and behavior. Majoring in linguistics means that you will learn about many aspects of human language, including sounds (phonetics, phonology), words (morphology), sentences (syntax), and meaning (semantics).

What is the hardest language class? ›

Across multiple sources, Mandarin Chinese is the number one language listed as the most challenging to learn. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center puts Mandarin in Category IV, which is the list of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers.

Is there math in linguistics? ›

Mathematical Linguistics is a subfield of Linguistics that uses mathematical concepts and methods to study and analyze the structure, form, and patterns of natural languages.

What is the benefit of learning linguistic? ›

Improves memory and brain function Learning a language strengthens the area of the brain which is responsible for memory, speech and sensory perception. Bilingual people are better at retaining lists, sequences, names and directions. They are also more creative, perceptive and can concentrate for longer.

What are some examples of teaching philosophy? ›

Sample teaching philosophies to help you create your own
  • Structure and repetition is key. ...
  • Teachers must hold students to high expectations. ...
  • Students need effective tools and resources. ...
  • Teachers should be great examples. ...
  • Teachers offer the gift of learning. ...
  • Learning goes beyond the classroom.
Nov 17, 2021

What are the 7 philosophies of education? ›

These include Essentialism, Perennialism, Progressivism, Social Reconstructionism, Existentialism, Behaviorism, Constructivism, Conservatism, and Humanism. Essentialism and Perennialism are the two types of teacher-centered philosophies of education.

Does learning a language raise IQ? ›

Learning another language is one of the most effective and practical ways to increase intelligence, keep your mind sharp, and buffer your brain against aging.

Do people who speak multiple languages have higher IQ? ›

In the early nineteen fifties, researchers found that people scored lower on intelligence tests if they spoke more than one language. Research in the sixties found the opposite. Bilingual people scored higher than monolinguals, people who speak only one language.

What is the highest paying job in linguistics? ›

What are Top 5 Best Paying Related Linguist Jobs in the U.S.
Job TitleAnnual SalaryMonthly Pay
International Linguist$97,000$8,083
Work From Home Urdu Linguist$97,000$8,083
Arabic Intelligence Analyst$89,984$7,498
1 more row

How long does it take a linguist to learn a language? ›

FSI research indicates that it takes 480 hours to reach basic fluency in group 1 languages, and 720 hours for group 2-4 languages. If we are able to put in 10 hours a day to learn a language, then basic fluency in the easy languages should take 48 days, and for difficult languages 72 days.

Is knowing 5 languages a polyglot? ›

The term “polyglot” is often used to describe people who can speak more than three languages. If you speak two languages you're bilingual, if you speak three you're trilingual. If you speak more, you may be considered a polyglot.

How rare are you if you can speak 3 languages? ›

Being trilingual means that you speak three languages with general fluency. Some estimates put the total of the world's trilingual speakers at just over 1 billion people. That's 13% of everyone on Earth!

What are 5 linguistic languages? ›

The 5 domains of language include: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.

What are the 5 components of linguistics? ›

Linguists have identified five basic components (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics) found across languages.

What are the five linguistic levels of language? ›

There are Five Levels of Linguistic Rules to be learned and applied to go from Deep Structure to Surface Structure.
  • Phonologic Rules.
  • Morphologic Rules.
  • Syntactic Rules.
  • Semantic Rules.
  • Pragmatic Rules.

Is linguistics a BA or BS? ›

When you pursue a B.A. degree in the Department of Linguistics, you immerse yourself in the scientific study of language and its structure, including the study of grammar, syntax, semantics, and phonetics.

Is linguistics a stem major? ›

The methodology of linguistic makes it science and it is considered a scientific study, but it does not belong to STEM.

What are the 6 scopes of linguistics? ›

Some of its main sub-disciplines are semantics (the study of meaning), phonology (the study of sounds), morphology (the study of parts of words), pragmatics (language function), syntax (language structure), psycholinguistics (language and the mind), sociolinguistics, (language and society) and historical linguistics ( ...

What is the difference between language and linguistics? ›

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language while language is a body of knowledge about speaking, reading or writing, in other words language is a way of communication between group of people.

What is an example of linguistics? ›

Linguistics looks at: The general phenomenon of human language. Different families of languages (example: Germanic, including English, German, Dutch and Scandinavian, among others). Specific languages (example: Arabic, Mandarin and French).

How can you apply linguistics in your daily life? ›

Language use is an essential human ability: Whether it's telling a joke, naming a baby, using voice recognition software, or helping a relative who's had a stroke, you'll find the study of language reflected in almost everything you do.

Is grammar a branch of linguistics? ›

An informal and broad definition of grammar is that grammar is a branch of linguistics that studies the form and structure of words (morphology) and the way in which the units of sentence structure are combined in sentences (syntax).

Who is the father of linguistic? ›

Ferdinand de Saussure (b. 1857–d. 1913) is acknowledged as the founder of modern linguistics and semiology, and as having laid the groundwork for structuralism and post-structuralism.

What is a synonym for the word linguistics? ›

synonyms for linguistic

On this page you'll find 13 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to linguistic, such as: grammatical, lingual, dialectal, etymological, lexemic, and lexical.

Why is it important for teachers to know about language and linguistics? ›

Linguistics helps teachers convey the origins of words and languages, their historical applications, and their modern day relevance. Combined, this approach to teaching language helps students gain a better, more in-depth understanding of their assignments and work product expectations.

How are language and linguistics related to each other? ›

Language and Linguistics are two different words that have to be used differently. A language is a mode of expression of thought by means of articulate sounds. But linguistics is a branch of study that deals with languages. It is a comparative study of languages.

What is the relationship between language and linguistics? ›

'Language' is a sign system of humankind in order to communicate one's thoughts, Feelings, and opinions to someone else but linguistic is scientific study of language. In fact the goal of linguistic is to describe languages and to explain the unaware knowledge all speakers have about their language.

Why do we need to study English language and linguistics? ›

The study of English Language or Linguistics will help you understand how people communicate and assign meaning (semantics), how they do things with words (pragmatics) or how language relates to social factors (sociolinguistics), psychological aspects (psycholinguistics), or power and injustice (discourse analysis).

Why should we teach language across the curriculum? ›

It helps learners to get understanding of different technical terms related to subject specific concepts. It helps learners to improve their linguistic skills by linking them with content knowledge. It enables learners to discuss subject concepts more effectively through language teaching.

What are the three purposes of linguistics? ›

The informative, expressive, and directive purposes of language.

What is the most important in language teaching? ›

Learning a language can be as easy or as difficult as you want it to be. Ask anyone with true language learning experience and they will tell you that the one thing that is more important than anything else is spoken practice.

What language is spoken but not written? ›

One language that has no written form is Sentinelese.

How many languages do linguists speak? ›

Linguists learn the languages and they are considered better informed if they are well versed in multiple languages. But, it does not mean that they should speak so many languages. On average, the linguists speak 2? 3 languages.

What are the two types of linguistics? ›

Semantics - the study of meaning. Pragmatics - the study of language use.

What is the relationship between philosophy and linguistics? ›

Language is the primary fact which concerns contemporary philosophy. Men have been speaking and writing for a long time, but it is only recently that the task of philosophy has been said to be the analysis of language.

What is the difference between philosophy of language and linguistics? ›

Linguistics is a science, a social science specifically, and therefore is focused on questions which can be tested empirically - by experiment and observation. Philosophy is focused on questions which can be assessed and debated rationally using logic.

How is linguistics different from grammar? ›

Linguistic theory is descriptive (to describe the way people speak), whilst grammatical theory like traditional grammar is prescriptive (to prescribe the way people speak, or simply, to tell people how to speak and let people know the correct way of their speaking).

Is language and linguistics a good degree? ›

While teaching and writing are both excellent careers that a Linguistics degree can lead to, the list of potential professions is far longer and more varied than that. Among the possible future careers that you may not have thought of are forensic linguist, speech therapist and social worker.

Is English language and Linguistics a good degree? ›

Career opportunities

A degree in English Language and Linguistics will equip you with a wide range of skills. You'll be able to study different approaches, some of which will be more arts-focused and others more science-oriented. It means you can cultivate skills in several areas that employers highly value.

Why is English the most important language to learn? ›

English is the Language of International Communication

Although English is not the most spoken language in the world, it is the official language in 53 countries and is spoken as a first language by around 400 million people worldwide. But that's not all, it is also the most common second language in the world.


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