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Undergraduate course guides 2015-16

The Prelims course (First year)
Foundation Course in Linguistics

General Coordinator 2015 - 2016: Dr Ash Asudeh

Who takes this course?

This course forms part of the following degree programmes:
• MLL: Modern Language and Linguistics (all candidates)
• ML: Modern Languages (some candidates)
• PPL: Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (some candidates)

For Modern Languages and Linguistics (MLL), all candidates follow the Linguistics Prelims course.
For Modern Languages (ML), candidates offering only one language for Finals (except French or German) will usually take Linguistics as their 'second subject' at the Prelims level.
For Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (PPL), candidates admitted to read either Psychology & Linguistics or Philosophy & Linguistics follow the Linguistics Prelims course.

Outline of the course
There are three parts to the course: General Linguistics, Phonetics and Phonology, and Grammar. These are taught through a series of compulsory lectures and classes or tutorials. Details of each part are given below.

Please note that the teaching and examining schedules for ML/MML and PPL are slightly different:

  • ML/MLL candidates follow the course over 3 terms (MT, HT and TT) and are examined at the end of Trinity Term via 3 x 3-hour exams (one for each part of the course: Paper VIII (General Linguistics); Paper IX (Phonetics and Phonology); Paper X (Grammatical Analysis)).
  • PPL candidates follow the course over 2 terms (MT and HT) and are examined in 8th week of Hilary Term. There will be a single, 3-hour exam covering all parts of the course. Candidates interested in continuing with Linguistics Prelims are expected to continue to attend lectures in Trinity Term, beyond their Prelims exam.

For both ML/MLL and PPL candidates taking Linguistics Prelims, there will be a single collection paper taken in 0th week of Hilary Term, on aspects of the course covered in Michaelmas Term.

General Linguistics (MLL/ML Paper VIII)
Paper Coordinators 2013-2014: Dr Ash Asudeh and Dr Matthew Husband

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:
• Modern Approaches to Language
• Psycholinguistics
• Semantics/Pragmatics
• Sociolinguistics/Language variation
• Language Change

Lectures are weekly in MT (1-8), HT (1-8) and TT (1-4). ML/MLL candidates are required to attend all lectures over the year. PPL candidates are required to attend all lectures up to HT7, and encouraged to attend lectures in TT.
Tutorials: ML/MLL candidates receive 10 tutorials in total (4 in MT, 4 in HT and 2 in TT), on a fortnightly basis. PPL candidates receive 4 tutorials (2 in MT, 2 in HT).

Phonetics and Phonology (ML/MLL: Paper IX)
Paper Coordinator 2015-2016: Dr Elinor Payne

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:
• Articulatory Phonetics and Practical Phonetic Transcription
• Introduction to Phonological Theory and Analysis
• Acoustic Phonetics
• Beyond the segment: dynamic phonetics and prosody
Lectures are weekly in MT (1-8) and HT (1-8). There are no lectures in TT. ML/MLL and PPL candidates are required to attend all lectures, though PPL candidates are exempt from attending lectures in HT (7-8) because of exams.
Weekly classes: ML/MLL candidates attend classes throughout MT and HT, and for weeks 1-6 in TT (22 classes in total). PPL candidates attend classes throughout MT and for weeks 1-4 in HT (12 classes in total).

Grammatical Analysis (ML/MLL: Paper X)
Paper co-ordinator 2015-2016: Dr Louise Mycock

Candidates will be expected to be familiar with grammatical theory. The main elements of this course are:
• Syntactic Theory and Typology
• Morphological Theory
Lectures are weekly in MT (1-8), HT (1-8) and TT (1-4). ML/MLL candidates are required to attend all lectures over the year. PPL candidates are required to attend all lectures up to HT7, and then encouraged to attend lectures in TT.
Fortnightly classes: ML/MLL candidates attend classes throughout MT and HT, and for weeks 1-4 in TT (10 classes in total). PPL candidates attend classes throughout MT and for weeks 1-6 in HT (7 classes in total).

Sample timetables
Click to view sample timetables for ML/MLL and PPL. These show scheduled times for compulsory lectures, and the number of additional teaching hours (n.b. with sample times/days – actual times/days need to be fixed with individual tutors at the co-ordination meeting in 0th week of Michaelmas Term).

Final Honour School

Directors of Undergraduate Studies: Dr Mary Baltazani (Dr. Sandra Paoli on leave in MT15 & HT16)

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
XII marked
[L] (i.e. as
Compulsory Compulsory Compulsory Compulsory Optional
other than
At least one Optional Optional Unavailable1
French sole Optional Optional Optional Optional Unavailable
Optional Optional Unavailable2 Unavailable Unavailable1
1 Except for those offering Spanish who wish to offer XII Modern Catalan or XII Modern Galician
2 Unless also marked with another language identifier or by agreement with the specific Paper convenor.

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.

Arranging tutorials

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

Presentation on linguistics options in FHS

Paper IV

(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.

Paper V

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.2030 Syntax
XII.2009 Semantics
XII.2031 Phonetics and Phonology
XII.2032 Sociolinguistics
XII.2034 Psycholinguistics
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.

XII.2030 Syntax

This option is designed for candidates who wish to attain a more detailed knowledge of modern generative syntactic theory and syntactic typology. Attention will also be given to recent debates and developments within the field.

This option is taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials. Method of Assessment A.

Contact: Prof Mary Dalrymple (on leave in MT2013), Dr Louise Mycock

XII.2009 Semantics

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:

  • Coarticulation and models of speech production
  • Approaches to speech perception
  • Phonetic Acquisition
  • Experimental methodology
  • Prosody
  • Non-linear phonology
  • Constraint-based phonology
  • The phonetics/phonology interface.

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%).

XII.2032 Sociolinguistics

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: 

  • sociolinguistic methods
  • geographical and social dimensions of dialect variation
  • mechanisms of language change
  • code choice and code-switching in multilingual
  • pidgin and creole languages
  • language shift and language death.

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 

XII.2034 Psycholinguistics

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

XII. 2198 Linguistic Project

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: