Introduction to Linguistics

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Introduction to Linguistics

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    The goal of this course is to provide students with elementary knowlegde of formal and functional linguistics. At the end of this course, students will be able to correctly use basic linguistic terminology and they will be familiar with the basics of the linguistic domains phonetics, phonologiy, morphology, syntax, language variation, language contact, semantics, pragmatics, computational linguistics, language acquisition and language disorders. They will also be aware of the role that linguistics plays in society, such as in speech therapy or language therapy, in educational environments, and in language policy. Students will also be able to perform basic linguistics analyses on language examples from different languages.

    In this course we will study the basics of linguistics (and some applied linguistics). We start out with studying how sounds are pronounced and perceived and how meaning is mapped onto sounds in different languages (topics: phonetics and phonology). We then move on to how words and sentences are formed in a number of languages and how this helps us categorize languages into families (topics: morphology and syntax). In the third week we focus on how languages change from generation to generation and how language contact causes regional language change. In these first three weeks we will study language examples from English and Dutch but also from typologically completely different langauages such as Austronesian languages and Amazonian languages. In the second part of the course, in weeks four, five and six, we will focus on a number of functions of language. First, we will study semantics (the mapping of meaning onto words or clauses) and pragmatics (the use of unwritten rules of language use). After that, we will move on to computational linguistics and we will try to answer the question whether it is possible for a computer to learn a language in exactly the same way as humans do. In the last week we will focus on the miracle of language learning. At that point in the course, we will most probably have come to the conclusion that languages are based on quite complex systems of rules and exceptions and we will study the learnability of language. We will focus on the stages that children go through as they learn their native language. Some attention will also be paid to a number of language disorders.

    Lectures, seminars, and practical classes. In the lectures the topics of the week will be introduced by an expert in the field. Students will then individually work through a number of linguistic exercises before the start of the seminar. During the seminar the teacher will discuss the students' outcomes of the exercises and will compare them to his/her own outcomes. During the practical classes a (guest) lecturer will go into the role that the topic of the week plays in society.

    Written exam (50 multiple choice questions). Students will be tested on their knowledge of and insight in the field of linguistics and they will have to apply that knowledge in a number of linguistic exercises. 

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

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