Foundation Course in Linguistics
General Coordinator: Dr Ash Asudeh
Candidates offering only one language for Finals (except French or German) will usually take Linguistics as their 'second subject' at the Prelims level. The course is described below.
Paper VIII: General Linguistics
Paper Coordinator: Dr Ash Asudeh
Candidates will be expected to be familiar with the development of contemporary linguistic theory, both synchronic and historical, and be able to discuss problems and issues in areas including semantics, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, language acquisition and language change.
The course will cover the following main areas, divided roughly into 4 week modules:
Paper IX: Phonetics and Phonology
Paper Coordinator: Professor John Coleman (MT 12), Dr Elinor Payne (HT13-TT13)
Candidates will be expected to be familiar with principles and practice in the analysis, classification and transcription of speech as applied to languages in general, but with an emphasis on European languages.
The course will cover the following main areas, divided roughly into four-week modules:
Paper X: Grammatical Analysis
Paper co-ordinators: Prof. Mary Dalrymple and Dr Sandra Paoli
Candidates will be expected to be familiar with grammatical theory. The main elements of this course are:
The year long course of three weekly lectures is designed to prepare candidates for the three papers above respectively, and is notated as such on the lecture list. In addition, preparation for the Preliminary Examination in Linguistics includes tutorials and practical classes arranged by the Linguistics Sub-Faculty. Even for those not preparing for the Preliminary Examination in Linguistics, the lecture series described here is suitable for any student desiring a basic Foundation Course in Linguistic Theory.
Director of Undergraduate Studies: Professor John Coleman, Phonetics Laboratory, 41 Wellington Square
The following Linguistics papers are available in the Modern Languages Final Honours School:
Paper IV (History of the language being studied)
Paper V (Synchronic study of the language)
Paper XII (Options: General Linguistics)
Paper XIII (Linguistic Theory)
The subjects above (papers IV, V, XII and XIII) comprise the 'Linguistics' part of the Final Honours School in Linguistics with a Modern Language', but are also individually available to those who are not reading for that degree, but rather for Modern Languages in a sole language or in two languages. Paper XIII is also available as one of the finals options in Honour School of Experimental Psychology and Honour School of Psychology, Philosophy and Physiology (D5 General Linguistics).
Table of linguistics options in/with Modern Languages
|IV in the
|V in the
[L] (i.e. as
|At least one||Optional||Optional||Unavailable1|
Brief descriptions of the scope of each paper are given below. Please bear in mind that some of these subjects, especially the paper XII special subjects, are available subject to appropriate teaching being available, and that details of any of the courses may change at short notice.
The name of tutors you may contact about each paper is given at the end of the information about that paper. Please remember, however, that official contact concerning teaching should be made through your college tutor. To "sign up" for (i.e. register your wish for) tuition in any of these papers, please go to the on-line sign up system here: it is more efficient for everyone concerned than a chain of individual emails.
Lectures and Tutorials
The lectures for linguistics subjects are spread throughout the academic year, and some of them are regularly spread across two or even three terms. It follows, therefore, that you will not necessarily have tutorials in the same term as you attend the lectures, and it may even be necessary for you to have the tutorials before the lectures, for instance if a clash in your timetable prevents you attendinga set of lectures in your second year. This is not in itself a problem, since tutorials and lectures are often intended to be complementary, and you should not normally expect them to cover all the same material, even if they sometimes do. Conversely, it is also important to ensure that you attend relevant lectures from the very first term of the course even if you will not be having tutorials until later in the year or even in your final year. Do not assume that when you return in your final year you will have time to attend all the lectures again! Linguistics tutors will be able to advise you on which lectures to attend at what stage in your course, depending on your choice of options: however, it is your responsibility to ask for that advice.
Duplication of material in examinations
Students are forbidden to repeat or reuse material in answering more than one examination question, either within the same examination or in two different examinations. However, it is likely, indeed expected, that there will often be overlap between material studied for paper XIII and the various linguistics paper XIIs, as well as papers IV and V in the language and the extended essay. In light of this, students are reminded that they may make use of any relevant material in answering questions on these papers, but can only use the same material once. In particular, students maychoose to answer questions within the same area of linguistics in more than one paper: for example, a student is permitted to answer questions on Phonetics or Phonology in the General Linguistics Paper XIII, even if the student has also chosen the Phonetics and Phonology Special Option Paper XII, as long as no material is reused. To provide a concrete example: a candidate who answers a question on the analysis of French nasal vowels by reference to an autosegmental phonological framework could not also answer a question on autosegmental phonology by reference to French nasal vowels in the same or any other paper. However, such a candidate would be free to answer about other areas of phonology or other data in the same or other papers.
Descriptions of linguistics papers in FHS
(For details relating to specific languages, consult the relevent Modern Languages FHS Handbook for that language)
The history of the language is studied. In some languages this includes close study of specific periods. Students study the methodology available for reconstructing earlier stages of their language, and apply this to investigate the pattern of development in its sound and grammatical systems. Teaching is predominantly done through tutorials, although there are also a small number of specific lectures each year. In Medieval and Modern Greek there is an alternative option in the modern dialects of Greece.
This paper involves the study of the linguistic analysis of the contemporary language. Students are expected to be familiar with ways of analysing and describing the phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics of the language in question. There will also be the opportunity to look at language variation both in terms of context (pragmatics) and social factors (sociolinguistics). The precise balance of these elements varies from one language to another, and in some cases there may also be scope to study stylistics and discourse analysis. Although this paper is not primarily concerned with historical changes, these may also be studied when they throw particular light on a specific synchronic issue. Teaching is through both lectures and tutorials, with additional classes in phonetic transcription in some languages (French).
In German, an alternative syllabus is concerned with the description of Old High German, while in Russian there is an alternative option in Old Church Slavonic.
Paper XII (Options in general linguistics)
This paper is designed for students wishing to investigate specific aspects of linguistic theory. The paper is therefore available in a number of different options, each one concentrating on a different area. These options include:
XII.2031 Phonetics and Phonology
XII. Language Change and Historical Linguistics
XII. 2198 Linguistic Project
In addition to the descriptions below, consult the linguistics area in Weblearn for reading
lists and advanced information.
This option is a thorough introduction for candidates who wish to explore the ways in which meaning is encoded in language. The areas under study will include: lexical meaning and lexical relationships, combinatorial and truth conditional semantics, the interaction between semantics and pragmatics, and the syntax-semantics interface.
Suggested reading: Saeed, John I. (2003) Semantics. [Second edition] Oxford: Blackwell
This option is taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials. Method of Assessment A.
Contact: Dr Ash Asudeh
XII.2031 Phonetics and Phonology
This course is aimed at those who wish to study how sound is used in language to a greater depth than is possible for paper XIII. The topics covered include:
This option is taught through seminars and practical sessions. Method of Assessment A*: three-hour unseen written paper (75%) and – for this paper only, either a half-hour practical phonetic transcription exercise or a lab report (25%).
Sociolinguistics is the study of language variation and change, and their relationship to social phenomena (e.g. class, gender and ethnic divisions, patterns of migration and contact, social network structures). Topics covered include:
The lectures and classes will take place in HT. Teaching is through a combination of attendance at lectures and classes. Method of Assessment A.
Contact: Dr Rosalind Temple (on leave in MT 2012)
Psycholinguistics is an interdisciplinary area of study that addresses the relation between language and cognition. Fields covered in this course include the study of the development of language in children and the investigation of the psychological mechanisms that underlie the production and understanding of speech. The lectures and classes will take place in Hilary Term. Teaching is through a combination of lectures and classes. Method of Assessment A.
Contacts: Prof. Aditi Lahiri, Dr Matt Husband
XII. Language Change and Historical Linguistics
The deadlines for the Linguistic project are as follows -
Submission of subject and title for the project : Wednesday, Week 2, Michaelmas Term of Final Year.
Submission of the completed work : Friday, Week 9, Hilary Term of Final Year.
Students offering the Syntax or Semantics papers are advised to attend the appropriate lectures in syntax or in semantics and pragmatics in their second year when possible, and to arrange for tutorials in these subjects in subsequent terms. Lectures in Psycholinguistics and Sociolinguistics may not be offered every year, but will generally be available to prospective candidates in one or the other of their years of FHS study; advanced planning for these subjects is essential. The Linguistic Project is arranged on an individual basis with a member of staff.
Paper XIII (Linguistic Theory)
This is a paper in the Honour School of Modern Languages specially designed for students offering either the Linguistics with a Modern Language course, or a sole language who have a strong interest in the theoretical underpinnings of linguistic analysis. The paper can also be taken by students in the Honour School of Experimental Psychology, and the Honour School of Psychology, Philosophy and Physiology.
The paper requires students to show a knowledge of contemporary linguistic theory regarding the different aspects of human linguistic capacity in the areas of phonology, phonetics, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics of intepretation. The student should also be able to examine the relation of these systems to issues of linguistic variation, language acquisition and language change. The paper is concerned largely with issues of theory and general techniques of analysis, rather than the description of individual languages or language groups. It is intended to complement the linguistic study of individual languages (papers IV and V) and also may be used to complement the general study of human cognitive systems and philosophy of mind.
Paper XIII presupposes and builds on the content of the Foundation Course in Linguistics offered for the Preliminary Examination in the Faculty of Modern Languages. In view of this, while paper XIII is an option for some students who have not taken this examination, the Sub-Faculty of Linguistics has agreed that it is strongly advisable for any student preparing for paper XIII to have followed the relevant lectures in the Foundation Lecture Course in Linguistics. Students can profit from the Paper XII lectures, as well as the lectures offered specifically for Paper XIII — consult the Linguistics Lecture List. Tutorial teaching can be provided by those lecturing on this course. Assessment is by a conventional three hour exam.
Although the course is not taught from a single textbook, prospective students may gain an idea of its scope and theoretical standard by looking at a general textbook such as Andrew Radford et al. Linguistics: An Introduction (CUP 1999) OR Victoria Fromkin, Robert Rodman, Nina Hyams (Thomson /Heinle 2006), An introduction to language. A reading list for Paper XIII General Linguistics is available on the Linguistics web site: