Course Descriptions for Spring 2020


Ling 237: Language & Immigration in Wisconsin

Professor Joseph Salmons
MWF 3:15-4:05, 575 Van Hise Hall
Humanities or Social Science Breadth
Satisfies CommB

Migration from abroad and other parts of North America brought and continues to bring myriad languages and dialects to Wisconsin. How and when did these immigrants and their descendants learn English and when and why did they begin to speak only English? How have immigrants shaped how English is spoken in the state? We will do hands-on, original research to find answers to these and related questions about immigrant languages and English past and present in Wisconsin. We’ll examine social and historical issues and issues of linguistic structure, drawing on local histories, archival data, Census records and audio recordings and there are opportunities to do fieldwork in communities across the state and the region.

No prerequisites – open to students with any background.


Ling 373: Dialect        NEW!

Professor Joseph Salmons
MWF 11:00-11:50, 104 Van Hise Hall

First off, yes, you speak one, possibly more than one. With that out of the way, this course is about dialect. It is not about particular dialects, of English or other languages, or about how isolated old people in quaint places talk or how to recognize where people are from by how they talk. You’ll learn something about all those issues, but our mission is more basic. Fundamentally, we’ll be talking about the heterogeneity of human speech, regionally and socially:

  • How and why does speech vary as it does over space and time?
  • What does that mean for understanding human language?
  • And for society, culture and history?
  • How do we understand and represent language in space and over time?

The class will include research projects — gathering and analyzing original data on several different topics ready to work on, plus any ideas that arise in class.

No prerequisites – open to students with any background.


Ling 101: Human Language

Rebecca Shields
MW 12:05-12:55 + 1 weekly discussion, 6210 Social Science

 In this class we investigate the inner workings of human language. Humans across the world use language to communicate, and they acquire this complex communication system effortlessly and rapidly as very young children. How is human language structured, and how does it work? We will learn about the fascinating diversity of human languages across the globe, and also about the intriguing commonalities that all languages share. The course includes a basic introduction to the study of phonetics and phonology (speech sounds), as well as morphology and syntax (word and sentence structures). We will also consider related questions such as: How do humans acquire language as children? What are signed languages, and how are they different from spoken languages? Students will get hands-on experience analyzing linguistic data from a diverse set of languages and dialects in the small-group discussion section.

The course is appropriate for both majors and non-majors and is open to anyone with an interest in language science. No prerequisites.



Eng 320: Linguistic Theory and Child Language     NEW!

Professor Jacee Cho
TR 2:30-3:45, 4281 Helen C. White

An introduction to the linguistic study of child language within the generative theory. According to this theory, humans are born with genetically determined linguistic knowledge called Universal Grammar, which guides children in learning language. Learn the basic concepts of the generative theory and learn to apply them to the study of child language. Topics include universal linguistic principles that govern children’s acquisition of syntax and semantics and cross-linguistic influence in children acquiring more than one language from birth or early childhood. Discuss empirical research studies testing the Universal Grammar theory of language acquisition.

Requisite: Sophomore standing

Ling 373: Introduction to statistics and data science for linguists       NEW!

Professor Eric Raimy
MWF 11:00-11:50, 151 Education Building

The course will provide a survey and introduction to tools available for linguists to collect, organize and analyze primary data of many sorts. We will cover and learn to use tools for transcription (ELAN), for data organization & manipulation (Excel & R), for text editing (BBEdit), for survey creation (Qualtrics), for data visualization, statistics & record keeping (RStudio, RMarkdown, GraphViz), and for using scripts for data manipulation (Python, ssh). We will work with data from interviews, surveys, and other sources from many subfields of linguistics (i.e. sociophonetics, syntax, phonology, etc.).

Open to students (both undergraduate and graduate) with prior linguistics experience.

Ling 571: Structure of a Language

Professor Monica Macaulay
TR 11:00-12:15
[note corrected days and time!]

This class will provide an introduction to the grammar of Menominee. The structure of the language will be approached in the context of on-going revitalization projects among the Menominee, and requirements will include contributions to those projects.

Note: It would be best if you’ve already taken Ling 322 (Morphology). If you haven’t, please contact Prof. Macaulay before you sign up to discuss whether it would be a good fit for you.


Span 630 Topics in Hispanic Linguistics: Morphosyntax

Professor Grant Armstrong
TR 4:00-5:15

The course will be taught in Spanish. Spanish proficiency equivalent to Span 311 is required. Open to both undergraduates and graduate students. Contact Prof. Armstrong with any questions.

This course is an introduction to Spanish morpho-syntax and basic syntactic theory. It is divided into two main parts. First, we provide a broad overview of lexical categories, the core characteristics of inflectional and derivational morphology, as well as the structure of constituents, including phrases (= sintagmas), simple and complex sentences. The main objective of this part of the course is to gain familiarity with the methods of traditional grammatical description and develop basic skills of representing the internal structure of words and sentences and describing how this structure is linked to meaning. In the second part of the course, we will learn the principles of generative syntactic theory (our primary focus will be X-bar syntax and the modular theory of grammar found in Principles & Parameters or Government & Binding Theory) and apply these to data in different varieties of Spanish. We will use the traditional modes of representing words and sentences from the first part of the course as a basis to understand the motivations behind generative theory and discuss its advantages and shortcomings by doing many practice problems and having discussions about articles from the primary literature.



Ling 979: Seminar – Universal Grammar with Iconicity

Professor Yafei Li
W 1:20-3:50, 1151 Van Hise Hall

The course explores the theme that UG has functional voids even in its core job of clause-construction, which activate iconicity to help the derivation. On the fact side, we examine serial verb constructions, coordination, linker words, and the grammatical expression of external arguments to illustrate where UG lets iconicity in and how this collaboration yields predictable linguistic facts. On the theoretical side, a simple algorithm is proposed to regulate the UG-iconicity interaction. The content of this course is based on Professor Li’s book of the same title, to be published by Cambridge University Press.


Eng 715: Advanced Second Language Acquisition

Professor Jacee Cho
TR 9:30-10:45, 7105 Helen C. White Hall

This course continues the introduction to Second Language Acquisition (Eng 318) by focusing on a number of critical issues in SLA from linguistic (generative) and psycholinguistic perspectives. In this course we will discuss findings of recent research in SLA that address questions such as: (1) what is the role of Universal Grammar in L2 acquisition? (2) how does L2 knowledge develop over time? (3) how does abstract linguistic knowledge interact with other cognitive and psychological factors in real-time language performance (production & comprehension)? We will learn how to design various linguistic and psycholinguistic experiments, and you will carry out a research project to investigate second language acquisition within the generative or psycholinguistic theories.

There is no required textbook. All reading materials will be available on the course website.

Prerequisite: Eng 318 Second Language Acquisition or equivalent


Psychology 711:  Language Comprehension in Adults and Children

Professor Maryellen Macdonald
MW 9:30-11:30

This class studies the cognitive and linguistic processes underlying language comprehension—turning speech, sign, or written input into an understanding of that input, with a specific focus on word and sentence interpretation, in both children and adults.  Topics include ambiguity resolution: language to children and adults contains rampant lexical and syntactic (and other) ambiguities.  We’ll investigate how comprehenders interpret ambiguity and how this ability changes in development.  Another topic is syntactic complexity, and the degree to which people predict aspects of upcoming input.  Other topics may include referential interpretation (e.g. pronouns), prosody, and the relationship between language production and comprehension processes.  The readings will be chosen not only to cover topics but also introduce a variety of research methods in children and adults.  Most readings focus on typical development and native speakers, but we will touch on related issues, including L2 learners, atypical development, and impairments after brain injury in adulthood. The class typically enrolls students from Psychology, Language Sciences, Education, and programs with interest in (psycho)linguistics or second language instruction, such as Spanish, German, English, etc.


Scan Studies 510 Topics in Scandinavian Linguistics: The current state of Icelandic in North America, especially Manitoba, Canada

Professor Kirsten Wolf
TR 9:30-10:45, 206 Van Hise

Open to graduate students only. Icelandic proficiency is necessary. Instructor permission required to enroll.