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ET118: Linguistics: Understanding Language


What is language? What is language made of? What do we do when we speak? What rules do we follow when we put sounds together to create words and when we combine words to create sentences? How many languages are spoken in the world today, and in which ways are they similar or different? These are some of the questions that this module will enable you to explore. In this module, you will use examples from different languages to help you develop practical skills needed to analyse real language data.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Use disciplinary terminology to describe the sounds, sound patterns, morphology, syntax, and meaning of languages.
  • Describe and discuss similarities and differences among languages.
  • Apply knowledge of linguistics to carry out practical analysis of language data, and justify this analysis with evidence.
  • Transcribe and interpret language data with the International Phonetic Alphabet.
  • Critically evaluate alternative analyses.
  • Construct coherent lines of scientific argumentation.

Learning Experience


Core content will be presented during weekly 2-hour lectures.


We will meet in a weekly 1-hour small-group seminar to practice and apply course concepts.


Data analysis

Two data analysis and problem solving exercises (25% each)


2-hour written examination (50%)

Preparatory Reading

  • Fromkin, V., Rodman, R. & Hyams, N. (2014). An Introduction to language (7th ed.). Andover: Cengage Learning.
  • Genetti, C. (Ed.). (2014). How languages work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Academic Staff

Ellen Smith-Dennis

Tim Curnow