BA English Language and Russian

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Typology

Course unit fact file
Unit code LELA20031
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This module provides an introduction to typology, the field of linguistics aiming to describe and analyse the diversity of structures found in the languages of the world and to uncover similarities between languages that cannot be explained by a shared history. We will examine cross-linguistic variation and recurring patterns in selected areas of morphology, syntax and semantics. We will also discuss methods of collecting data for typological research and their limitations, and critically review some of the explanations proposed for structures that are cross-linguistically frequent. Students will conduct a project on a language previously unfamiliar to them on the basis of published reference grammars and/or own fieldwork. This module is essential for students interested in pursuing cross-linguistic research or language documentation, and is also highly recommended for students with an interest in grammatical theory.

Pre/co-requisites

Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
English Word and Sentence Structure LELA10301 Pre-Requisite Compulsory

Aims

  • Students will obtain an overview of the degree of variation, and limits to variation, in selected grammatical characteristics of the languages of the world.
  • Students will acquire the ability to apply grammatical and comparative concepts to a language unfamiliar to them.
  • Students will critically evaluate typological generalisations and test their applicability to specific languages.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course unit, students will
  • be able to define some key notions in linguistic typology, and apply them to new data
  • be able to identify the cross-linguistically most frequent strategies in the marking of selected grammatical constructions,
  • be able to evaluate explanations that have been proposed for the prevalence of certain construction types;
  • appreciate the methodological issues that arise in cross-linguistic research

Intellectual skills

  • Identifying patterns in sets of data
  • Identifying key points in the literature relevant to a given topic
  • Critically evaluating a model against new data
  • Evaluating the validity of a generalisation from a sample

Practical skills

  • Using different strategies for locating relevant information
  • Glossing and translating data from an unfamiliar language
  • Eliciting data from speakers of an unfamiliar language (optional)

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Tackling a complex and unfamiliar task by completing several steps, following guidelines, taking into account feedback, and asking for assistance in case of difficulties
  • Awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity
  • Confidence in discussion and argumentation
  • Offering precise argumentation in written work that is backed by empirical evidence

Assessment methods

Data problem sets  N/A (formative)
Midterm exam 30%
Presentation of language profile in preparation for essay                      10%
Individual essay                      60%

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Oral feedback on weekly seminar exercise sheets

Formative

Oral and written feedback on presentation and laguage project 

Formative and summative

Written feedback on essay 

Summative

Additional one-to-one feedback during office hours

Formative

 

Recommended reading

  • Croft, William (2003), Typology and Universals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Greenberg, Joseph (1963), Some Universals of Grammar with Particular Reference to the Order of Meaningful Elements, in J. Greenberg (ed.), Universals of Language, 58-90. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • Song, Jae J. (2018), Linguistic Typology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Velupillai, Viveka (2012), An Introduction to Linguistic Typology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Whaley, Lindsay J. (1997), Introduction to Typology: The Unity and Diversity of Language. London: Sage Publications
 

 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Demonstration 1
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 166

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Vera Hohaus Unit coordinator

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