Linguistics 101: Spring 2017

Course Information

Instructor: Emily Moeng

Office hours: Wednesdays 1-3, and by appointment

Office: 103C Smith Building

Email: moeng (AT) live (DOT) unc (DOT) edu

Classroom: 212 Phillips

Class meeting time: MWF 3:35-4:25 pm

Course Policies

Click here for course policies.

Syllabus - subject to change (last updated 5/2/17)

Here you will find the most current syllabus. All upcoming assignment due dates, quiz dates, and readings will be posted here. Make sure to REFRESH this page each time you come back to it to ensure the most up-to-date version.

Date Topics Covered Reading Due

Assignments Due

Quiz Dates

W 1/11

-What is linguistics?


-Prescriptive vs. descriptive/mental grammar


-Course policies

-Chapter 1


-Announcements: HW 1 due Friday, Writing Assignment 1 due Wednesday 1/18, see 1/20 for Quiz 1 questions

F 1/13

-Reminder: Writing assignment due on Wednesday


-More on prescriptive/descriptive/mental grammar

-Why we need the IPA

Chap. 1 (pp. 1-13)

HW 1 due today at the beginning of class: pp. 13-14, #1d-j, 2, 3, 5a-e,g-i, 6, 7


For #6, if you're not sure what the actual prescriptive rule is, just circle the part that a prescriptivist would take issue with


Note there is a question at the bottom of #6 asking about the reaction of linguists. Be sure to answer it, that's the main point of the problem!


Hint for #7: see the Language Matters section on p.8 of your textbook


(Reminder of homework policy)

M 1/16

No class - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day



W 1/18

-Reminder: Quiz 1 at the beginning of class on Friday


-Intro to consonants: 4 properties

-Handout: The Consonant Chart

Chap 2, sections 1-5

(pp. 15-34)

Writing Assignment 1 due today


(Reminder of writing assignment policy)

F 1/20

-Consonant properties

Chap 2, sections 6-7 (pp. 34-40)

Quiz 1: The vocal tract

M 1/23

-Consonant pronunciations

-Handout: Practice with consonants



W 1/25

-Announcements: HW 3 due on Monday

-Reminder: Quiz 2 at the beginning of class on Friday


-Vowel properties

-Handout: The Vowel Chart


HW 2: Turn in handout from Monday

F 1/27

-Announcements: Quiz 3 on Wednesday

-Reminder: HW 3 due Monday


-Transcription practice


Quiz 2 (worth two quizzes!!): The consonant chart

M 1/30

-Reminder: Quiz 3 on Wednesday


-Non-English speech sounds


HW 3: Chap 2, pp. 56-57 #7; 9a-c, f-j;10a-h

W 2/1

-Dialectal variation

-Transcription practice


Quiz 3: The vowel chart

F 2/3


Chapter 3, section 1-3

(HW 4 due date moved to Monday)

M 2/6

-Announcements: HW 5 due Wednesday (remember, office hours are Wednesdays 1-3 if you have any questions)


-Introduction to phonology

-Korean [s] and [S]

Chapter 3, section 4

HW 4: Finish and turn in transcription practice from Wednesday

W 2/8

-Flowchart to solve phonology problems

-In-class practice problems: Canadian English


HW 5

F 2/10

-Continue in-class practice problems


-Natural classes



M 2/13

-Announcements: HW 7 due on Wednesday


-Phonetic vs. phonemic transcription

-Syllable structure


HW 6: Complete in-class practice problems if you did not complete them on Friday

W 2/15

-Announcements: Midterm 1 postponed to 2/22, HW 8 due Friday


-Aspiration in English

-Phonology practice


HW 7

F 2/17


Chapter 4, section 1

HW 8

M 2/20

-Extra office hours: Today 12-2, 4:30-6



W 2/22

-Midterm 1 (up to and including material from 2/15)



F 2/24

-Announcements: HW 9 due on Monday


-Morphology: Other morphological phenomena


"Quiz" 4: In-class work

M 2/27


Chapter 5, sections 1, 5.2, 2.3

HW 9

W 3/1

-Announcements: HW 10 due on Friday


-Syntax: Constituency tests

-Syntax: Determining lexical category through distribution (rather than semantics)

Chapter 5 section 5.1; Chapter 6 section 3.2  
F 3/3

-Announcements: HW 11 due Monday


-X-bar structure

Chapter 5, section 3

HW 10: Chap. 5 p. 199-200 #2a,b,d,e; 6; 7

M 3/6

-Announcements: Midterm 2 moved to 3/31, no class on Wednesday, HW 12 due on Friday


-2 exceptions to X-bar structure: Modifiers and ditransitive verbs


-Structural ambiguity


HW 11: Chap. 5, p. 199-200 #3a-e; 4a-d, f, g; 5a-h


*Important: Although the instructions for #5 direct you to examples which use triangles, DO NOT use triangles in any of the assignments or exams in this class*

W 3/8

No class, no office hours

F 3/10

-CPs and embedded clauses

Chapter 5, section 4

HW 12


No class - Spring Break



M 3/20

-Announcements: HW 14 due on Friday


-Syntax: Transformations


HW 13

W 3/22

-Announcements: HW 14 due on Friday, Writing assignment #2 posted under 4/5


-Syntax: Transformations



F 3/24

-Announcements: HW 15 due on Monday


-Syntax: In-class practice

  HW 14: Chap. 5, p. 201 #10a-c,f; 11a-d,g



-Announcements: Midterm 2 study guide posted


-Syntax summary


-Justification for X-bar structure: Constituency and Cross-linguistic variation


HW 15: Complete and turn in the in-class practice sentences from Friday

W 3/29


θ 3/30

Extra office hours 12:30-2:30

F 3/31

-Midterm 2: Morphology and syntax (covers material from 2/17-3/27)

M 4/3


Chapter 6, intro, section 1, 4  
W 4/5

-Announcements: HW 16 due on Friday

-Reminder: Writing assignment #2 due on Monday





F 4/7

-Language acquisition: Movie

Chap. 10, sections 1, 2, 4, 5.1, 5.4, and 6 HW 16: Chap. 6, pp. 241-244 #3,4,16,18
M 4/10

-Language acquisition: Universal Grammar

  Writing Assignment 2 due

Read this chapter from Steven Pinker's book "Language Instinct." Write a paper, at least 2 pages in length, which includes answers to the three questions below.


1. What kind of embedded sentences are humans bad at parsing? Why? Are computers bad at parsing the same types of sentences? Why or why not?


2. What does Pinker mean by depth-first search? How is it different from a breadth-first search? What do garden path sentences tell us about which ones humans use?


3. Describe evidence obtained via experiments for the existence of traces.


NOTE: By "parsing" Pinker means processing the structure of a sentence. As you hear or read a sentence, you automatically parse it, which involves something like building a tree for it in your head.


Although your first writing assignment was graded on completion, note this and all following writing assignments will be graded on clarity of thoughts, organization, completion, and accuracy.

W 4/12

-Language acquisition: Lexical acquisition

  "Quiz" 5: Ask your parents if they remember your first word and about how old you were when you said it. If they do, bring that information to class.
F 4/14

-Holiday: No class



M 4/17

-Language acquisition: Experimental methods


-Sociolinguistics: Movie



W 4/19

-Sociolinguistics: Movie


"Quiz" 6: Take this quiz and bring a print-out of your final map to class. Circle the areas on the map that you have lived a significant amount of time in (at least three years)

F 4/21

-Announcements: HW 17 due Monday


-Sociolinguistics: Variation by region, class, and other factors

-Sociolinguistics: AAVE


Writing Assignment 3 due


Many linguists will argue that children are not "taught" a language. Explain why this is in an essay at least two pages long.


In your essay you should use at least three concrete examples (for example, the gavagai problem, wug testing, over-regularization, resistance to correction, etc…) For each example, be sure to not only describe what it is, but also to explain why it supports your overall point.

M 4/24

-Announcements: Writing Assignment #4 due on Friday, but I will accept it up to Sunday, 4/30 (11:59 pm) without a late penalty


-Sociolinguistics: Language attitudes

  HW 17: p. 387 #9; p. 525 #2


**For #2, you only need to include your results and the results of one other person (although you can include more people if you want!)

W 4/26

-Historical linguistics

F 4/28

Last day of class


Writing Assignment 4 due

***graded on completion***


Read this excerpt from Guy Deutscher's book "The Unfolding of Language," and answer the following questions:

1. Describe how destruction or erosion leads to creation of new elements in a language using two different examples from the reading.

2. At one point, the JOURNALIST asks "how come words just don't get shorter and shorter and shorter all the time, until they dissolve completely?" Summarize the essence of DeTROY's answer to this question. What are your thoughts on this issue?

Your assignment should be at least two full pages.

W 5/3

Office hours 12-3 (also by appt -- email me!)

M 5/8

Final exam (cumulative!!), in this room at 4 pm. No blue book or scantron needed.


Final exam study guide



Homework policy

Homework is due in class at the beginning of class. It will be counted as late 15 minutes after class starts. After that it will be accepted up to 24 hours later, for a grade deduction. You are allowed to collaborate with other students in the class, but each person should write up their own assignment. If you have collaborated with another student, you should put their name at the top of your homework.

Writing assignment policy

Papers are collected at the beginning of class. Late papers will be accepted 24 hours after they are due, for a grade deduction. Papers will be further deducted for each additional day.

Summary of Course Topics (subject to change)

  • I. Studying language scientifically and objectively
    • Prescriptivism vs. descriptivism
  • II. 6 core topics in linguistics
    • Sounds: Phonetics and Phonology
    • Words: Morphology
    • Sentences: Syntax
    • Meaning: Semantics and Pragmatics
  • III. Other topics in linguistics
    • Acquisition
    • Historical
    • Sociolinguistics