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seminars > spring 2014 schedule > seminar: Code Breakers: Unveiling the Mysteries of One Human Languager


Honors Seminars Spring 2014

Code Breakers: Unveiling the Mysteries of One Human Language

HON 295 Sec:002  
3 hours  
GEP Category:
Social Sciences  
Clark Hall 205  
Dr. Tiffany L Kershner

This course will introduce you to the architecture of one language. As a class we will work from scratch with a speaker of a language that none of us know, with the goal of unlocking the mysteries of that language at all levels—sound system, word formation, sentence structure, semantics and pragmatics. In essence, you will be introduced to techniques of linguistic and anthropological research and analysis through direct work with a native speaker of an unfamiliar language. By working with a native speaker consultant in the classroom, we will approximate in some way what it is like to do fieldwork. In this class, you will learn how to elicit field data through direct questioning and gathering of texts, how to organize field data, how to prepare entries in a field dictionary, and how to organize and write a grammar. At the end of the class you will be asked to present a mini-description of the language. Students will meet with the native speaker in the class as well as for 30 minutes outside of class to investigate one aspect of the language’s grammar. We will also discuss the rewards, difficulties, and responsibilities of fieldwork. No previous courses in linguistics are required. The identity of the language will be revealed on the first day of class.