Introduction to Linguistics


This basic course in language and linguistics is designed for students of computational linguistics. It is nonetheless an introduction to linguistics as it is also taught to students of language, literature or psychology.


The focus of the course is on language preceding from general scientific curiosity to the perspective developed by professional linguistics. The goal is provide the motivation for serious study of language.

At the end of this course students should be familiar with all of the following:



LF Department of Linguistics, The Ohio State University. Language Files Columbus, OH, USA: The Ohio State University Press. 6th ed., 1994.
Words George Miller. The Science of Words New York: Scientific American Library. 1996.

Other Sources

No readings are assigned from the books below, but I've used them to prepare my lectures.

Chapters 1-4 of Vater are useful for learning the German terminology.

Heinz Vater. Einführung in die Sprachwissenschaft München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag. 1994.
Steven Pinker. The Language Instinct New York: W.Morrow & Co. 1994.
Geoffrey Sampson Educating Eve London: Cassell. 1997.
David Crystal. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language Cambridge University Press. 1997


John Nerbonne,, IMS 12.3/24
Office Hours: Mon. 13:00-14:00 (after lecture)

Meeting Time

Lecture: Mon. 11:30-13:00 pm


Written Exam (Klausur) on Mon. Feb. 4, 2002 from 11:30-13:00. Example exam available.


Reading Assignments are noted by `LF' (Language Files) followed by the file numbers, e.g. 1.2-1.5, meaning 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 and 1.5, or `W' (The Science of Words), followed by chapter numbers.
Week Theme Readings Sheets Remarks
1. Nov. 19 Basics LF 1.2-1.5; W 1 Basic Concepts
2. Nov. 26 Language Origins LF 2.1-2.3; W,p.74 Evolutionary Speculations Pinker and Bloom on language as a spandrel
3. Dec. 3 Speech Sounds LF 3.1-3.6,3.9-3.10; W 2,4 Sounds
4. Dec.10 Phonology LF 4; W 5 Phonology
5. Dec.17 Morphology LF 5.0-5.2; W 6-7 Morphology
6. Jan 7 Syntax LF 6; W 11 Grammar
7. Jan 14 Acquisition LF 9.2-9.9; W 12 Acquisition
8. Jan 21 Variation & Change LF 12.1, 12.4, 10.2-3 Variation
9. Jan 28 Applied Linguistics LF 14.4-5
10. Feb. 4 Exam LF Appendix B
11. Feb.11 Exam Discussion Exam Key


Besides the material in the books, I've been inspired a lot by the University of Pennsylvania's Introduction to Language Course, given in different versions in the Fall and Spring, and developed by Mark Liberman and Gene Buckley, respectively.

John Nerbonne
Last modified: Mon Nov 26 17:49:05 METDST 1999