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This is a course site for the General Linguistic Course for the graduate stduents studying in M.A. Linguistics Program of NWNU. We also havea sister websitefor group discussion. You can share ideas, raise questions, give comments, receive mailinglists. Oh, it's just like your family of linguistics and you can virtually do anything related to this course.

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Course Description

For detailed information about the course, including major topics, assessment and required textbooks, read this course description.

You might have noticed this course resource downloading centre, which is an integral component of the forum.  

Topic One Introduction to Language and Linguistics

In this session, you will be introduced the basics of human language and how it is approached by linguistics. You can download the handout and lecture presentation for this session. 

Click HERE to view the presentation online.

To get a better understanding of basic notions in linguistics and language, you are asked to read the entries about linguistics and language at wikipedia, a encyclopedia that everyone can edit online.

Prof. Zhou Liuxi gives us a comprehensive review of the development of linguistic science in the last fifty years. You can download his papers.

Topic Two Phonetics and Phonology

  '''Phonology'''  is a subfield of core linguistics whereas phonetics is about the nature of sounds or phones per se, Phonology describes the way sounds function within a given language. Each of these two disciplines have its division of labor, they are also related with each other. 

In this session, we will have a very brief discussion of some of the major issues concerning the study of human speech sounds. These topics include: the human speech organs, vowels and consonants, distinctive features, phonological processes and rules, etc.

Please download the lecture PPT HERE. 

You are required to read the following two papers, to develop a better understanding of the relationship between these two disciplines. 

王嘉龄,1997,  "从音系学到语音学“ 《外语教学与研究》第4期
王嘉龄, 1996 ”语音学与音系学的趋同倾向“ 《外语教学与研究》第2期

Topic Three Morphology

In this session, we are going to discuss morphology, the study on the way words are structured in a language. The central question addressed by the study of morphology is: what constitutes our knowledge of words in a language?

Since words is at the interface between the sound and meaning of langauge, morphology is at the conceptual centre of human language. For this reason, morphology is something all students of linguistics should know about.

Please download the handout and ppt presentation, and read the relevant chapters in your textbook.

Assignment for this session: Please read the second chapter of The Morphology of Chinese: A linguistic and Cognitive Approach. (J.L. Packard)

You are also recommended to read this paper by Feng Shenli, which was published in Contemporary Linguistics Vol (3), pp161-174, 2001.

Topic Four Syntax

Syntax is the study of the architecture of sentences, which has been of central importance in linguistic inquiry. There are, of course, a great diversity of syntactic theories, but our discussion will primarily focus on two influential grammar theories: American Structuralism and Universal Grammar.

Please download the handout and ppt version of the lecture for this topic.

If you wish to know more about the topic, follow this link, which is an online textbook of syntax containing detailed and very helpful information about Chomskyan linguistics.

Paper for group presentation and class discussion:

何元建, 1995, “X标杆理论与汉语短语结构”,《国外语言学》1995年第2期 36-44  页

Topic Five Semantics

Compared with form, meaning is something fluid in language. Therefore, it is something hard to capture. In linguistics, we have two branch disciplines focusing on meaning of human language, semantics and pragmatics. The two differ in that the former deals with context-free interpretation of meaning while the latter is more interested in meaning(s) in context.

A few issues concerning with the meanings of language will be discussed in this session. More crucially, we will discuss what constitutes the knowledge of meaning in a native speakers.

You can download the PDF version of the lecture presentation HERE.

Apart from the basics in semantics, we will also discuss in this unit, very briefly, the basic tenets of cognitive linguistics. You can download the PDF version of the lecture presentation HERE. and if you wish to know more about this school of linguistics theory, you can download these two papers, a long one, and a short one.

Assignment: You are required to read this paper and the students in Group 4 should prepare for its presentation.

Topic Six Pragmatics

Pragmatics is the study of context-dependent aspect of MEANING in human languages. It is a discipline of linguistic inquiry that seeks to characterize the features of the speech context which contributes to determining what is expressed in a given sentence. One central theme running through pragmatics studies is: why do we not say what we mean and why do we not mean what we say? most theories in pragmatics intends to fill up the gap between "saying" and "meaning".

In this session, we are going to discuss three influential theories in pragmatics: speech act theory, cooperative priniciple, and relevance thoery, the last of which is a bit difficult to understand for those without prior knowledge in pragmatics. Therefore, we have uploaded an introductory paper to assist your understanding. This Paper is contributed by D. Wilson and D. Sperber themselves to The Handbook of Pragmatics. I wish they would be helpful for you.

You can download the lecture presentation HERE.

Topic Seven Language Acquisition

Language acquisition has become one of the central themes in linguistic study since Noam Chomsky's radical attack on the behaviourist account of human verbal behaviour. In this session, we are going to discuss, very briefly, the theoretical significiance of language acquisition studies on linguistics and cognitive science.

You can download the lecture presentation HERE.

You are recommended to read Steven Pinker's paper Rules of Language, which was initially published in Science Magazine in August, 1991,and later appeared in an edited book, The Core Readings of Language Acquisition.

Topic Eight Discourse Analysis

With the "linguistic turn" in the study of social sciences, there has been a growing interest in the study of language use in social context. In this session, we are going to discuss some basic notions and approaches of discourse analysis.

This is a chapter article on Discourse, from Speech and Language Processing: An introduction to natural language processing,
computational linguistics, and speech recognition
. Daniel Jurafsky & James H. Martin,1999.  

You can download the lecture presentation HERE.

Topic Nine Corpus Linguistics

The word "corpus", derived from the Latin word meaning "body", may be used to refer to any text in written or spoken form. However, in modern Linguistics this term is used to refer to large collections of texts which represent a sample of a particular variety or use of language(s) that are presented in machine readable form.

The use of real examples of texts in the study of language is not a new issue in the history of linguistics. However, Corpus Linguistics has developed considerably in the last decades due to the great possibilities offered by the processing of natural language with computers. The availability of computers and machine-readable text has made it possible to get data quickly and easily and also to have this data presented in a format suitable for analysis.

In this session, we are going to discuss some basic notions of the discipline, trace its historical development, and introduce some important techniques of exploiting corpora.

You can download the course lecture presentation for this unit HERE. And you can download AntConc, a freeware of concordance for Windows, HERE.

Listed beneath are some papers to read, so that you will develop a good understanding of the corpus-based research.

何安平 徐曼菲, 2003, 中国大学生英语口语Small Words研究, 《外语教学与研  究》第6期.

何安平, 2001, 中国学生拼写错误分析,《外语教学与研究》第3期.

杨惠中等,2002 , An Introduction to Corpus Linguistics ,  上海外语教育出版社

许家金 许宗瑞, 2007, 中国大学生英语口语中的互动话语词块研究, 《外语教学与研究》第6期

肖忠华 许家金, 2008, 语料库与语言教育, 《中国外语教育》, 2008年第2期

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Notice Board

Course Notice

Dear all:

Please upload your group presentations to this page.
Thank you.


Since nearly all the participants of our course choose to attend Prof. Yang's course in Academic Writing, the linguistic classes for Thursday and Friday is cancelled for this week.

Sorry for the inconveniences, if any.