Linguistics 490 Syllabus
Fall Semester 2002
This syllabus is subject to revision during the semester if class needs warrant. Any changes will be announced and sent out on the class mailing list. It is your responsibility to check your e-mail and attend class so that you know of revisions.
Linguistics 490 is intended to provide you with a broader context on linguistics and help you synthesize your linguistic knowledge. There are two goals of this course: (1) to help you understand the philosophical roots of modern linguistics and (2) to help you evaluate academic research in the form of an issue research paper.
The assignments for the class will correspond to these objectives. 90% of your final grade will come from these two areas (40% from (1), 50% from (2)) with the remaining 10% of your grade coming from attendance and participation.
This course requires a considerable amount of reading, especially when we cover The Linguistics Wars. You should allow yourself enough time to read the material indicated in the course calendar before you come to class. Some of the material presented will be relatively complex and may require careful study to be properly understood. In class we will attempt to pull together strands of the readings to show what fundamental issues and positions are represented and help you see the big picture. Class participation is essential as most class periods will be spent in discussion of the readings rather than in detailed lecture-type presentations of the readings. If you are having trouble with a concept, it is likely that other students are as well, so take advantage of class time to discuss those topics that you feel need clarification and discussion.
Grading will be based on the following assignments:
You will receive a final grade based on your percentage of total points according to the following scale:
You may choose one of three options for the research paper. All of the options must treat an unresolved issue with two sides. Each side should have prominent supporting arguments and data.
1. In addition to an issue, you must formulate a methodology in order to argue your side of the issue.
2. You may leave out the difficult aspect in option 1 of taking a stance and presenting an argumentation (including a methodology) for it. In this case, you will only present pros and cons for each side, but not come to a conclusion as to which side is more valid and thus not need a methodology for deciding. The paper must still be 10-15 pages. Choosing this option automatically nets you a 50 point loss on both the draft and final papers, for a total of 100 points deducted from the 300 possible.
3. You may replace the argumentation for one of the two sides of the issue with a detailed description of an experiment that, if carried out, would determine the answer to the issue. This option also excludes a methodology, but there is no point penalty. The 100 points usually awarded for the methodology will instead be determined by your ability to formulate a feasible and appropriate experiment that can lend insight into the issue. The same basic principles apply to this task as to formulating a methodology. Remember that the most elegant research generally tests a single variable in a way that is not subject to ambiguous interpretation.
While there is no set length for the paper you must make it long enough to cover the subject and short enough to be interesting. As a general guideline 10-15 pages (double-spaced) should be enough to cover your subject, but length will not be a factor in grading unless a paper is manifestly too short or is extremely long-winded. The paper should demonstrate synthetic thinking and an awareness and understanding of not only the technical details of your subject, but also of more general philosophic and practical issues as well. Potential issues for discussion need not be limited to those we discuss in class, but may also represent issues of interest to you from outside reading or studies; the paper must, however, deal with an issue that is primarily linguistic in nature.
While we are aware that there are many effective writing styles, this paper must be written as an issue paper, not as a research report or exposition of theory. Grading will be based primarily on your paper's content, but adherence to the issue paper format and mechanical aspects of the paper will also be considered. The paper requires the use of a specific format. A detailed style guide and an overview of acceptable writing styles is published right here on the class syllabus online. If you have any questions or need some help in this area, please contact Mike.
We will be using the following texts in Linguistics 490:
You can contact Dr. Melby in the following ways:
You can contact Mike Manookin in the following ways:
The following statements are required to appear on this syllabus.
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