Graduate Linguistics Courses 2011-12


MONDAYS 2:30pm-4:30pm ROOM UC138A
This seminar applies to 2nd year MA linguistics Graduate students.

LINGUIST9819/FR9800A - Sociolinguistics: Language Variation and Change
Dr.Jeff Tennant
MONDAYS 1:30-4:30pm ROOM UC138A

This course offers students the opportunity to explore foundational research as well as some of the most recent work on language and society, with a particular focus on the theory, methodology and findings of sociolinguistic research on language variation and change.
Students will carry out an empirical analysis of a set of language data as part of their course project, or do a critical survey of the literature to argue a position on a given sociolinguistic topic. Through bibliographic research and a class presentation, they will progress incrementally in their research on their chosen topic throughout the course.
While some “classic” work in sociolinguistics will be read and reviewed, a significant proportion of our effort in the course will be devoted to studying some of the most recent research in the field, published in the most prominent journals.
The language of instruction will be English but students have the option of submitting written work in English, French or Spanish


LINGUIST9706A/SP9706A Acquisition of Romance Languages - Dr. Silvia Perpiñán

TUESDAYS 2:30pm-5:30pm ROOM UC207

This course covers issues on bilingualism, first and second language acquisition of the most spoken Romance Languages (Catalan, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish) from a linguistics perspective. Basic knowledge of phonological and morphosyntactic concepts is required, but knowledge of the languages is not. Topics such as the acquisition of tense, aspect, mood, subject and object pronouns, relative clauses, and some phonological contrasts will be explored.



LINGUIST9620B Empirical issues in theoretical phonology - Dr. David Heap

WEDNESDAYS 1:30pm-4:30pm ROOM UC317

A range of readings are used to examine development of phonological theory over a number of decades, from the early generative linear approaches to more recent non-linear alternatives. The emphasis is on the dynamics which drive change from one model to another, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of different  approaches in accounting for linguistic facts. Students explore a range of datasets from various languages to illustrate phonological processes and cross-linguistic typological patterns.

LINGUIST9215B/ANTH 9215B Discourse and Society - Dr. Karen Pennesi

TUESDAYS 1:30pm-4:30pm ROOM SSC 3330
course outline

We will learn multiple models for systematically analyzing discourse,
broadly defined as communicative actions involving spoken or written
language. We will explore how discourse is shaped by many things including
the world as we know it, the structures of language itself, social
relations, prior discourses, the limitations and possibilities of the
medium, and various speaker purposes. We will also consider how discourse
shapes each of these in turn. In this way, we will study discourse as both
process and product. Students will learn how to evaluate different
analytical approaches and determine what each can contribute to particular
cases. Students are expected to make connections to their own research and
apply the theories and methods from the readings to analyses of their topics
of interest.

CS/LINGUIST9660B Computational Lingusitics - Dr. Robert Mercer

THURSDAYS 1:30pm - 4:30pm ROOM MC320

This is a graduate level introductory computational linguistics course. Computational linguistics models human language from a computational perspective using statistical and/or rule-based techniques. Natural language processing has a significant overlap with computational linguistics and for our purposes, I won't differentiate the two terms. The course will look at 4 main aspects of computational linguistics: 1) the word, 2) the sentence, 3) discourse, and 4) applications. The section on the word will be used to introduce regular languages (type 3 in the Chomsky hierarchy) and regular expressions and their computational models: Finite State Automata and Finite State Transducers, morphology, POS tagging, n-grams, Hidden Markov Models, and lexical semantics. The sentence component introduces context-free languages (type 2 in the Chomsky hierarchy) and context-free grammars and parsers, and compositional semantics. The unit on Discourse takes a short look at discourse segmentation, coherence, and anaphora. An introduction to some important application areas will end the course. As well as broad areas of application, we will be interested in looking at and using some well-developed tools: NLTK, Gate, FSM. Every participant in the course will do an individual research project, write a paper describing the project, and give a short presentation on the project.


LINGUIST9601B /SP9710B -Syntax - Dr. J. Bruhn de Garavito

FRIDAYS 9:30am-12:30pm ROOM UC207

How do you put words together to form sentences? How does the way we build our sentences contribute towards interpretation? Why are some sentences ambiguous? Does the concept of grammaticality exist in the mind, or is it a social construct?
This course aims at understanding ways in which these questions and others may be approached, and how they contribute to our understanding of the human mind. More than providing particular answers, we hope to learn to ‘think scientifically’ about language, that is, we will try to analyze sentences in different ways, making different hypotheses about them. Then we will try to weigh the evidence that supports each of these hypotheses. 

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