Courses offered since Autumn 2009

Biological & Cultural Evolution
11100/39286. (= BIOS 29286, BPRO 23900, CHSS 37900, HIPS 23900, NCDV 27400, PHIL 32500). PQ: Third- or fourth-year standing or consent of instructor. Core background in evolution and genetics strongly recommended. This course draws on readings and examples from linguistics, evolutionary genetics, and the history and philosophy of science. We elaborate theory to understand and model cultural evolution, as well as to explore analogies, differences, and relations to biological evolution. We also consider basic biological, cultural, and linguistic topics and case studies from an evolutionary perspective. Time is spent both on what we do know, and on determining what we don't. Salikoko Mufwene, William Wimsatt, Winter 2010, Spring 2013
Dynamic Semantics
20721/30721. (=PHIL 20721/30721.) PQ: Knowledge of first-order logic with identity strongly recommended. Students will benefit most if they have taken classes in semantics or philosophy of language. An introduction to the foundations and applications of dynamic approaches to natural language semantics. We will study the formal details and empirical motivations of various major dynamic semantic frameworks such as File Change Semantics, Discourse Representation Theory, Dynamic Predicate Logic, and Update Semantics, and see how they address a number of puzzling natural language phenomena such as donkey anaphora and presupposition projection. In parallel to the formal component, the empirical and theoretical advantages and drawbacks of dynamic semantics will come under scrutiny, and we will also pay close attention to the philosophical repercussions of a dynamic approach to discourse and reasoning. Malte Willer, Autumn 2012
Cross-Linguistic Semantics
30750.  The semantic component of a grammatical system specifies what the meaning of basic expressions are and how the meanings of larger, more complex expressions are determined. Theoretical linguistics seeks to discover general principles underlying the organization of grammars, which can predict and explain systematic patterns of cross linguistic variation. What do we find upon examining a particular semantic domain across several unrelated languages? Do our current semantic theories lead us to expect what we find?  We will look at a number of case studies explored in the semantic  literature, selected from a pool of topics including number, indefiniteness, property concepts, tense, aspect, modality, and quantification.  Itamar Francez, Spring 2014.
20770/30770.  In this course we will explore the ways in which semantic values may depend on the nonverbal context of utterance, and develop an understanding of how to model these dependencies.  Expressions like “we”, “yesterday”, and “this icicle”, “that acacia over there” refer to entities or times that are wholly or largely determined by the situation where the utterance is made, and are thus aptly called deictic (from Greek deiktos: “pointoutable”).  If we shift this situation, as we do when we report the utterance, we have to shift the expressions too to retain their reference.  We will examine the ways of identifying deictic expressions, and acquaint ourselves with the standard way to treat them, in a two-dimensional semantics where context of utterance and context of evaluation are the same type of thing but play two different parts.  Kjell Johan Saeboe, Autumn 2013.
Historical Linguistics
21300/31300. PQ: LING 20600/30600 & LING 20800/30800 or consent of instructor. This course deals with the issue of variation and change in language. Topics include types, rates, and explanations of change; the differentiation of dialects and languages over time; determination and classification of historical relationships among languages, and reconstruction of ancestral stages. Yaroslav Gorbachov, Spring 2010; Alan Yu, Spring 2012; Yaroslav Gorbacov, Spring 2014
Introduction to Language Development
21600/31600. (=PSYC 23200/33200/43200, HUDV 31600).  This course addresses the major issues involved in first-language acquisition.  We deal with the child’s production and perception of speech sounds (phonology), the acquisition of the lexicon (semantics), the comprehension and production of structured word combinations (syntax), and the ability to use language to communicate (pragmatics).  Susan Goldin-Meadow, Spring 2013
Languages of the World
23900/33900. A nontechnical general survey of human languages, examining their diversity and uniformity across space and time. Major topics include language families and historical relationships, linguistic typology and language universals, sound and structural features of the world's languages, and writing systems. Yaron McNabb, Spring 2011
Language Policy and Planning
24210. This course offers an introduction to the field of language policy and planning, with particular focus on the Scandinavian Language Community.  With Haugen’s (1966) seminal book on language conflict and language planning, Norwegian language planning was brought to prominence. Haugen’s writings will be taken as a point of departure, but the scope will expand to include language policy and planning in other parts of Europe as well. In particular the “linguistic climate” of the different Scandinavian countries will be compared and contrasted. We will look at how the Scandinavian languages and the linguistic landscapes of Scandinavia are influenced, primarily, by English, but also by other languages. Moreover we will see how the threat of national language loss within important social domains, such as business and academia, is dealt with and what measures are taken to strengthen inter-Scandinavian collaboration. Royneland, Spring 2012
The Revival of the Basque Language: its Language Policy and Language Planning
24290/34290 (=BASQ 24290/34290).  This is a survey course in the Language Policy and Language Planning carried out on the Basque Language, namely the language practices (language use), language beliefs and the measures taken at the levels of corpus, status and acquisition planning. We will study the process of standardization of Basque since its beginning in 1968, how spelling, morphology and lexicon were unified, the modernization of terminology, and the latest corpus and dictionaries available in Internet. We will also analyze the plans and measures set up that enabled to have Basque mass media or Basque be used in governmental services or in local work spheres, as well as the acquisition measures implemented via the educational system. All that entailed that today the Basque language has 200,000 more speakers than it had in 1990 and it is used as language of instruction in Preschool, Primary Education, Secondary Education and even at the university level.  Miren Azkarate, Spring 2014.
Syntactic Variation
25120/35120.  In this course we will focus on the problems associated with studying syntactic variation, both from a theoretical perspective and a more practical perspective. Among the theoretical questions we will ask what is the best way to represent variability in the grammar, and how does variation bear on theories of morpho-syntax. We will also consider the impact of variation on the language acquisition process and what acquisition data can tell us about the representation of variation. On the practical side we will discuss methods for collecting syntactic variation data, and the problems associated with them.  Alan Munn, Spring 2014.
Trends in Sociolinguistics
26010. Language variation can be conceived in different ways. In this course we examine the characteristic approaches of three discernible developments within sociolinguistics. Deeply influenced by the American linguist William Labov, the first stage of sociolinguistics focused on the correlation between macro-sociological variables and language variation.  In a later development the relation between variation and local social practices has been a central topic. Finally, the presently dominant approach to variation studies takes as its primary object the social meaning of variables, conceived as styles linked to categories of identity. Royneland, Spring 2012
Introduction to Slavic Linguistics
26400/36400 (=SLAV 20100/30100). The main goal of this course is to familiarize students with the essential facts of the Slavic linguistic history and with the most characteristic features of the modern Slavic languages. In order to understand the development of Proto-Slavic into the existing Slavic languages and dialects, we focus on a set of basic phenomena. The course is specifically concerned with making students aware of factors that led to the breakup of the Slavic unity and the emergence of the individual languages. Drawing on the historical development, we touch upon such salient typological characteristics of the modern languages such as the rich set of morphophonemic alternations, aspect, free word order, and agreement. Yaroslav Gorbachev, Autumn 2012
Language Variation and Change
27201/37201.  Exploring links between synchronic usage preferences and diachronic change.  We begin by considering accounts of language change, as seen primarily in English constructions (e.g. declarative and interrogative constructions, genitive constructions, degree modifier constructions, some comment clauses, and clefts), that are couched in terms of Minimalist Syntax, Construction Grammar, or Grammaticalization.  Drawing on results from psycholinguistics and corpus studies, we then address the question of whether synchronic usage preferences can lead to, or result from, change in grammatical structure.  The course has an emphasis on combining corpus and experimental evidence, and on quantitative methods of linguistic analysis.  Joanna Nykiel, Spring 2013
Language, Culture, and Thought
27605/37605.  (=CHDV 21901/31901, PSYC 21950/31900, ANTH 27605/37605) This is a survey course exploring the role of natural language in shaping human thought. The topic will be taken up at three levels: semiotic-evolutionary (the role of natural language in enabling distinctively human forms of thinking--the rise of true concepts and self-consciousness), structural-comparative (the role of specific language codes in shaping habitual thought--the "linguistic relativity" of experience), and functional-discursive (the role of specialized discursive practices and linguistic ideologies in cultivating specialized forms of thought--the pragmatics, politics, and aesthetics of reason and expression). Readings will be drawn from many disciplines but will emphasize developmental, cultural, and critical approaches. Class time will be divided between lecture and discussion.  John Lucy, Spring 2014.
Meso-American Linguistics
27900. This course surveys the past and present condition of Mesoamerican languages through readings in topical and regional ethnographic and linguistic work on the indigenous groups of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and El Salvador. We examine the current state of research and documentation in the several language families and explore selected topics in the region from a linguistic perspective including areal phenomena, language endangerment and shift, and verbal art. Juan Bueno-Holle, Spring 2011
Structure of American Sign Language
27901/37900.  This course will provide an overview of the grammar of American Sign Language (ASL).  Topics to be covered in this course include phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and prosody.  No previous knowledge of ASL is assumed.  Diane Brentari, Autumn 2013.
Sign Language Linguistics
27910/37910. PQ LING 20101 or 30101; LING 20201 or 30201; or permission of instructor. This course, intended for upper level undergraduates and graduate students, will cover a wide range of analyses of different sign languages, and from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives.  The focus will be on how sign language linguistics has contributed to broadening general approaches to the study of language and to linguistic theory as a whole. Questions to be addressed include: “What impact does communication modality have on grammar?”, “What is the relationship between sign language and gesture?”, “How does the cross-linguistic study of sign languages help us understand the emergence of language?”, and “How do phenomena in sign languages broaden our understanding of what is universal in language?” Previous knowledge of sign language is not assumed. Diane Brentari, Autumn 2011, Winter 2014
Laboratory Methods in Sign Language and Gesture
27920/37920. This course provides an overview of the methods currently in use in the fields of sign language and gesture research. Readings will include studies that use experimental methods that have been used in similar ways in spoken and sign language research, as well as studies that use methods that have required some type of innovation of technology or approach in order to be useful in work on sign and gesture. We will consider how advances in technology have allowed linguists to address theoretical questions concerning sign language and gesture in new ways. Since this course is a lab course, it will meet once a week to discuss the readings, and then in small groups in order to work on projects that will provide more in-depth understanding of the course's topics and related issues. Diane Brentari, Winter 2013
Automodular Grammar
27990/37990. The course will consider a non-transformational model of grammar consisiting of multiple independent grammars, including especially: 1) a grammar of syntactic form with no regard to either word structure or semantic structure, 2) a grammar of word structure that makes no reference to syntactic or semantic structure, and 3) a grammar of semantic structure that pays no attention whatsoever to either word structure or meaning. Each of these grammars is remarkably simple and very easily formalized. We will consider how it is that much of the perceived complexity of natural languages is the result of the incompatibility of these alternative analyses and the principles that guide the resolution of their conflicts. My recent book, The Modular Architecture of Grammar, will serve as a reference as well as Culicover and Jackendoff's Simpler Syntax, which explores a similar model.  Jerry Sadock, Winter 2014.
28095/38095.  Bilingualism as a phenomenon, is pervasive— with more than 6000 languages spoken, and at most 200 countries in the world today, more than half of the world’s population is (at least) bilingual today. Popular wisdom, however, has long been dominated by views that treat bilingualism as a disadvantage; and these are in tension with recent scientific developments in linguistics and cognitive psychology showing that bilingualism brings cognitive advantages that relate to general intelligence, metalinguistic awareness, and cultural flexibility. In this class, we discuss recent literature with emphasis on topics such as: how languages co-exist in the brain, second language acquisition, bilingualism and thought, code-switching, the impact of bilingualism in the self-perception of individuals and social groups.  Anastasia Giannakidou, Spring 2014.
Structure of Georgian
28340/38340.  (=GEOR 21800/31800).  This course will provide an overview of the grammar of Modern Georgian. Topics include the alphabet, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. No prior knowledge of Georgian is necessary for this course.  Tamra Wysocki-Niimi, Spring 2014.
Language and Power
28860/38860 (=ANTH 27420/37420).  Language is often imagined to inhabit a symbolic realm autonomous from other aspects of social life, including power.  This class starts from the contrary position that language and power are intrinsically intertwined.  We will discuss how linguistic practices reflect and shape large-scale power relations, sometimes through explicit attempts to pursue particular linguistic projects, and sometimes through means more subtle and covert.  How, we will ask, can we take these relations of power into account and still make room for the agency and imagination of the speaking subject?  Our texts will be varied, encompassing sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology as well as history and social theory.  Special attention will be paid to the influence of capitalism, but our purview will be broad, and will also encompass everyday institutional interactions, colonial legacies, and questions of gender, as well as class, globalization, and the new work order.  Suzanne Cohen, Spring 2013
The Structure of Greek
29530. In this course we explore topics relating to the phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics of Standard Greek today with emphasis on the aspects in which the structure of Greek differs from that of English and is in this sense particular. These include the sound system, the writing system, inflectional morphology, word order and polarity phenomena (negative concord, subjunctive, free choice items). Catherine Chatzopoulou, Winter 2011
Structure of Russian Syntax
29903/39903 (=RUSS 23001/33001). Topics to be covered in this course include agreement, case usage, and word order in Contemporary Standard Russian.  Major syntactic features of modern colloquial Russian are also examined. Lenore Grenoble, Winter 2013
Language in Culture I
31100.  (=ANTH 37201, CHDV 37201, PSYC 47001).  Among topics discussed in the first half of the sequence are the formal structure of semiotic systems, the ethnographically crucial incorporation of linguistic forms into cultural systems, and the methods for empirical investigation of “functional” semiotic structure and history.  Michael Silverstein, Autumn 2013. 
Language in Culture II
31200.  (=ANTH 37202, PSYC 47002).  The second half of the sequence takes up basic concepts in sociolinguistics and their critique.  Constantine Nakassis, Winter 2014.
Hittite Linguistics
31410. This course aims at introducing linguistic approaches to the study of extinct languages, with strong emphasis on the languages of ancient Anatolia (especially Hittite, Luwian and Lycian).  We will explore three topics from different linguistic sub-fields:

1.    Typology: Ergativity
2.    Information structure: Focus
3.    Semantics: Lexical and grammatical aspect

Each section starts with an introduction of the topic from a non-theoretical point of view, followed by an overview of the treatment of this topic in different linguistic frameworks. Based on our own analyses of selected texts, we will try to develop a method for applying linguistic models to the Anatolian material, and as a corollary assess the descriptive adequacy of previous approaches in the secondary Hittitological literature (mainly in English, German, French and Italian).

Because of the long history of several of the Anatolian languages, ca. 1500 years, we will be able to use the methods of comparative and historical linguistics to trace and explain possible changes.

All texts will be offered in transliteration and translation but without glosses. However, the availability of good grammars and dictionaries will allow students from other disciplines with linguistic interests to participate. Petra Goedegebuure, Spring 2011, Spring 2013
31720. PQ: LING 20101 or Graduate Student Standing. This course examines the phonetic aspects of sociolinguistic variation and the social significance of phonetic variation, from the perspectives of both theory and methodology. By examining the relationship between social factors and phonetic detail, we also investigate how these different types of information are stored in the mind and accessed during the production and perception of speech. This course will focus on experimental techniques and mental representations of linguistic information.
This course will give students hands-on experience with designing and conducting experiments. As part of the empirical foundation of this course, we will focus on sociophonetic variation across Chicago neighborhoods. For the final project, students are required to conduct a small-scale study investigating a research question of relevance to phonology and/or sociolinguistic theory. Alan Yu, Autumn 2012
Seminar: Computational Phonology
32850.  This course will cover information-theoretic approaches to phonological grammar. We will focus on issues pertaining to model discovery and model selection, and on formal methods of model evaluation. Jason Riggle, Spring 2012
Experimental Approaches to Semantics and Pragmatics
35400. Anastasia Giannakidou, Ming Xiang, Autumn 2010
Structure of Yiddish
35510. Yiddish grammar has provides evidence that has challenged various theoretical assumptions in syntax and morphology. The basic structure of Yiddish will be outlined and theoretical literature by Prince, Perlmutter, Vikner, Santorini, den Besten, among others will be discussed. Jerry Sadock, Spring 2012
Seminar: Sociolinguistics
Topic: Current Directions in the Study of Sociolinguistic Variation
Salikoko Mufwene, Michael Silverstein, Winter 2012
36010. Readings in and discussions of several contemporary frameworks for analyzing the "inherent variability" of linguistic form and its significance for the synchrony/diachrony divide.  Among these: "Third Wave" variationism; language evolution; "exemplar based" approaches; discourse-based grammatical functionalism; "fuzzy category" theory.
Discourse Analysis
37300. Graduate level survey of approaches to analyzing language in context, including interactional sociolinguistics, politeness theory, ethnography of communication, speech act theory, information structure, topic and focus, empathy and deixis, cohesion and narrative structure. Amy Dahlstrom, Winter 2012.
Seminar on Grammaticization
38000. We will study how some lexical items and syntactic constructions specialize for specific grammatical functions. While critiquing some of the current literature on the subject matter, we will examine trends followed by different languages. Part of the critique will involve determining how theories of grammaticization are connected to the traditional practice of historical linguistics and what major issues arise today. Salikoko Mufwene, Autumn 2012
East Asian Language, Acquisition, and Pedagogy
39601.  (=EALC 26601/36601)  This course will address significant issues in teaching and learning an East Asian language through identification and analysis of specific sociolinguistic and linguistic characteristics of Korean, Japanese, and Chinese.  The course will begin with the introduction of linguistic structures of the three East Asian languages to begin discussing the interaction between language acquisition and society.  Then, we will explore sociolinguistic issues common to the three languages that underlie the linguistic diversity (and similarities) of East Asia, such as the following topic: (i) the use of Chinese characters, the history of writing reform, and its relation to literacy in East Asian languages; (ii) loan words in East Asian languages, in particular the use of Chinese characters in modern Japanese and Korean in the age of colonialism; (iii) the development and use of honorifics in China, Japan, and Korea, etc.  For a comparative approach and perspective to these topics, students will read academic papers for each language on a given topic and discuss the unique sociolinguistic features of each language.  Such an approach will allow us to analyze the language influence and interaction among the three languages and how that shapes the culture, society, and language acquisition.  Finally, this course will also introduce the field of second language acquisition, focusing on how social factors influence L2 learning and acquisition. Hi-Sun Kim, Winter 2014.
Experimental Methods
40310. This course will provide training on experimental design, data collection and analysis. We will go through a range of experimental paradigms, and students will acquire hands on experience through a course project. This class will set the ground for students to explore more advanced experimental methods in the future. Ming Xiang, Autumn 2012, Spring 2014.
Computational Psycholinguistics
41000. Theoretical linguists describe the relation between sentences and their meanings, and psycholinguists the relation between behavior and linguistic stimuli. In order for these two groups to interact, linking theories must be formulated to relate grammars to behavioral data. This course explores linking theories in a rigorous way. We begin with the classic competence/performance distinction, and the relationship between grammar and parser. The classical cognitive science approach to this latter takes them to be descriptions of the same process. Computational linguistics allows us to make this precise, and we explore the relation between grammar and parser in the simple case of context-free grammars. We then formulate explicit linking theories which relate either memory burden (stack size) or non-determinism (surprisal; entropy reduction) to behavioural data. The predictions of these linking theories are extremely dependent on the underlying grammatical assumptions, and we examine how to use them to decide between competing grammatical analyses. Greg Kobele, Ming Xiang; Autumn 2012
The goals of this course are to get you:
-thinking about the relation between theoretical and psycholinguistics
-stating explicit linking hypotheses
-able to use behavioral data to decide between grammatical analyses
Historical Semantics & Legal Interpretation: Questions & Methods
41601 (=CDIN 41601,LAWS 51601). This course aims to combine methodologies in research on historical jurisprudence and in theoretical and computational linguistics, with a view to understanding the meanings of words and phrases in context. We will examine theories of textual meaning from legal studies and linguistics, including originalism, textualism, common law constitutionalism, and other methods that require the interpreter to have a theory of which written sources, and which words, count for purposes of determining constitutional meaning. We will also introduce distinctions from formal semantics and pragmatics concerning the construction of meaning, and corpus-based modeling of lexical meaning (using tools such as word-sense disambiguation algorithms like the Yarowsky algorithm, and framenet semantics), as well as front-ends for using Google n-gram corpus and other techniques in lexicography and statistical meaning. We thus aim to acquaint students with these techniques and to apply them to several interpretive questions (such as those surrounding the 2nd amendment), modelling how such research can be conducted for questions of the students’ own interest. A final paper will be required. Jason Merchant, Alison LaCroix, Winter 2014.
Seminar in Semantics
Topic: Worlds and Times
Itamar Francez, Autumn 2009
42100. The notions of possibility and necessity are closely tied with temporality. In this seminar we will attempt to gain insight into this semantic nexus through an examination of temporality and modality in natural language. Analysis of particular linguistic phenomena will lead into formal considerations about  the nature of, and relation between, the two formal constructs ubiquitous in linguistic and philosophical semantics in this context: worlds and times. The empirical topics covered will include at least the following: temporal dimensions of modal expressions, modal dimensions of temporal expressions such as 'before' and 'after', and temporality in conditionals and counterfactuals. (Depending on time and interest, additional topics such as the progressive, the future and imperatives might be added.) These topics will give rise to questions regarding the interrelation between temporal reference and type of modality, certainty and the asymmetry between the future and the past, and the compositional makeup of various constructions. The literature will draw from linguistics as well as philosophy. The basics of modal and temporal logic will be introduced, as well as WxT frames and branching time.
Seminar in Semantics
Topic: Indefinites
Anastasia Giannakidou, Spring 2010
42100. In this class we examine the structure, meaning, and scope of expressions known as "indefinites". Indefinites include: nominals preceded by (a) the indefinite article; (b) so-called weak determiners-- such as "some", "few", "many", and cardinals such as "one", "three" etc. ; (c) polarity determiners like "any"; (d) bare nominals. We compare the various scopings and structure  of such items and interactions among them, and address key components in the discussion of their meaning such as specificity, contextual domain restriction, referential dependency, quantificational variability. We will study these in a number of languages, with main focus on English, Greek, and Spanish indefinites, and we also examine recent psycholinguistics studies that address the processing of indefinites. 
Seminar: Semantics
Topic: The nominal projection
Itamar Francez, Chris Kennedy, Autumn 2011
42100. This seminar will cover topics in the semantics of nominals, including (but not limited to):  the mass/count distinction; plurality; attributive modifiers and the relation between their position and their interpretation; measure constructions and partitives; classifiers and numerals.
Seminar: Semantics
Topic: Modality
Anastasia Giannakidou, Spring 2012
42100. In this seminar, we discuss the meaning of various expressions in language claimed to be associated with modal meaning. We will discuss modal verbs-- but also the modality associated with imperfective aspect, the future, as well as dependencies created by modal expressions, such as the licensing of negative polarity and free choice indefinites. We will also discuss the interaction between modality and temporal structure. The perspective will be intensely crosslinguistic, the main languages of study being Greek, Slavic, and English.
Seminar: Semantics
Topic: Inferential Meaning
Itamar Francez, Winter 2013
42100. This seminar examines expressions which give rise to implications and inferences not easily categorizable as presuppositions or conversational implicatures. These include some cases that have been argued to be either conventional implicatures or pragmatic presuppositions, as well as cases that do not clearly fall into any established category. We will look at how compositional meaning, pragmatic reasoning, and contextually encoded information contribute to the `inferential profiles' of the relevant expressions and constructions. Topics include implicative verbs, temporal prepositions 'before' and 'until', and various kinds of conditionals. Itamar Francez, Winter.
Seminar: Semantics
Topic: Aspectual Composition
Chris Kennedy, Spring 2013
42100. This seminar will investigate the way that the expressions that make up the verb phrase interact to determine the aspectual properties of an event description, with particular focus on the interaction between lexical and compositional aspects of meaning in verbs, nouns, and the morphology that links them together.
Seminar: Semantics
Topic: Collaborative Semantics
Kjell Johan Saeboe, Autumn 2013
42100. I would like to try out an idea for a "collaborative case study effort" in semantic analysis. We will take some phenomenon which is not well understood (by anyone), explore it and delineate it, identify the problem(s), make descriptive generalizations, scan the literature, form hypotheses and test them, check out on crosslinguistic stability, cast about for appropriate theoretical tools and existing analyses of reminiscent phenomena, discern alternative approaches, consider how to divide labor between syntax, context, and pragmatics, weigh arguments according to theoretical standards, - with a view to come up with a jointly approved account, maybe even a joint paper. Maybe the best choice of phenomenon would be a word which turns out to have surprising properties, not shared by other members of its class. The concrete topic will be decided on at the start of the seminar.
Seminar: Semantics
Topic: Polarity Phenomena in Language
Anastasia Giannakidou, Spring 2014
42100. In this seminar we study phenomena known in linguistics as “polarity”.  Some of these phenomena have to do with the polar opposition affirmative vs. negative—and in this connection we study negative polarity items, positive polarity items, and negative concord.  Another instance of polarity characterizes phenomena that show sensitivity to modality and nonveridicality, such as free choice items, anti-specific indefinites, and mood choice (subjunctive vs. indicative).  We discuss theoretical as well as experimental approaches to these phenomena, within a crosslinguistic perspective.
Seminar in Syntax and Semantics
Topic: Balkan Syntax and Semantics
Anastasia Giannakidou, Autumn 2009
42200. PQ: Knowledge of syntax and formal semantics is required. This seminar addresses some well-studied topics in the syntax and semantics of Greek within a comparative Balkan perspective that includes (at least) Bulgarian and Albanian. The topics of interest are (in chronological order): the structure of the noun phrase, negation, negative concord and polarity, the syntax and semantics mapping of tense, aspect, and mood, mood choice and temporal specification in embedded clauses, raising and control, and comparative structures. The goal will be not only to familiarize the students with the formal properties of the structures discussed, but also to enable them appreciate how the analysis of Greek and Balkan languages can impact current theories in syntax and semantics.
43000.  Bilingualism (or multilingualism more generally), as a phenomenon, is a pervasive reality— with more than 6000 languages spoken, and at most 200 countries in the world today, more than half of the world’s population is (at least) bilingual today. Popular approaches to bilingualism, however—and indeed those that often dictate education policy and curriculum—have long been dominated by views that treat bilingualism as a disadvantage; and these are in tension with recent scientific developments in linguistics and cognitive psychology showing that bilingualism brings cognitive advantages that relate to general intelligence, metalinguistic awareness (i.e. the ability to bring into explicit consciousness linguistic form and structure in order to produce the underlying meaning of utterances), and cultural flexibility. In this seminar, we will study bilingualism with the intent to dispel the myths about it, and to bridge the gaps in the disciplines that study it, by raising the central question of how languages co-exist in the brain, in conversation, and in culture. How is bilingualism perceived in creative processes, in films, song lyrics and literary texts? And what is the impact of bilingualism in the self-perception of individuals and social groups? Studying bilingualism, we speculate, has broad implications for our understanding of language, cognition, literature and culture, and has the potential to (at least partly) redefine the disciplines that study it. Anastasia Giannakidou, Na‘ama Rokem, Spring 2012
Advanced Topics in Mathematics for Linguists
44600.  The purpose of this seminar is to develop students’ ‘mathematical sophistication’ by introducing them to a number of advanced topics that are relevant to today’s research.  This will be done primarily by a close reading of a text at the appropriate level of difficulty, which will be determined in part by the students’ backgrounds.  In the fall, the reading will focus on category theory.  In the winter, the reading will focus on graphs, dioids, and semirings.  In the spring, the reading will focus on spectral graph theory.  Greg Kobele, Autumn 2013; Jason Riggle, Winter 2014; John Goldsmith, Spring 2014.
Languages of the Americas
45200.  This course is open to students interested in learning more about the indigenous languages of North, Central, and South America, those planning to begin work on one of the American languages, and those already engaged in research on American languages who would like to have a venue to get feedback on their current project(s). Amy Dahlstrom, Spring 2014.
Syntax Seminar
Topic: Syntax of the Romance languages
Jason Merchant, Spring 2010
46000. This course explores the nature of syntactic variation within and across the Romance languages, both synchronically and diachronically. I will attempt to give equal time to the major languages and to the lesser-studied varieties (especially Catalan, varieties of American Spanish, Vlach/Arumanian, and various dialects). We will concentrate on major syntactic issues, such as basic word order, agreement, clitics and clitic doubling, coordination, gender, infinitivals, wh-structures (especially relatives and comparatives), and ellipsis, as well as on issues in language contact as these apply to the syntax of these languages. Knowledge of a Romance language (or late Latin) will be useful, but is not required.
Seminar: Syntax
Topic: Long distance Dependencies: Parsing and Syntactic Theory
Karlos Arregi, Jason Merchant, Autumn 2011
46000. This course is an advanced graduate seminar on the nature of agreement. We examine a variety of phenomena and a variety of approaches to them. Phenomena covered include predicate agreement (with subjects, objects, and obliques), nominal concord, agreement ad sensum and ad formam, agreement between elements of different categories, agreement on pronouns (relative, anaphoric, and other), phi vs Case vs wh agreement, and more controversial phenomena that have been labeled agreement (negative concord, clitic doubling, etc.). We begin by looking at simple recurrent network approaches to agreement and bigram models, and then at more complex feature-based models and others (including feature co-occurrence, unification-based, geometric, and DM models).
Seminar: Syntax
Topic: Head Finality
Karlos Arregi, Autumn 2013
46000.  PQ: Graduate student in Linguistics or consent of instructor. This seminar examines crosslinguistic variation in word order at the sentence level (e.g. O-V vs. V-O, V-Aux vs. Aux-V), concentrating on issues that arise in the study of head-final constructions. We will look both at languages that exhibit consistent head-final syntax (e.g. Japanese, Korean) and those in which head-finilaity is restricted to some constructions (e.g. German, Basque). Different Minimalist perspectives on these issues will be discussed, including approaches that adopt a universal head-complement order, as well as those that do not.
Seminar in Computational Linguistics-1
Topic: Introduction to Parsing
Greg Kobele, Autumn 2009
47600. Generative linguistics studies our ability to use language abstractly, in terms of a relation between sound and meaning, but in real life humans end up computing meaning from a sound, or vice versa.  This course investigates the computational properties of algorithms that could compute morphological and syntactic analyses from strings.  While the emphasis is on algorithms, connections to the psycholinguistic literature will be explored when possible.  Mathematical sophistication and previous programming experience are helpful, but not required.
Seminar in Computational Linguistics-2
Topic: Advanced Topics in Computational Linguistics
Greg Kobele, Spring 2010
47700. This course is a continuation of the Seminar in Computational Linguistics 1, focusing on advanced issues in theoretical computational linguistics.  Topics vary, but may include computational semantics and mildly context-sensitive grammar formalisms.
Vagueness: its nature, its semantics, its logic
50111 (=PHIL 50111).  In this class we will draw together work on vagueness that has been done, over the last forty years, within philosophy, linguistics and formal logic. The overarching aim is to develop a coherent picture of what may appear to be (increasingly) diverging approaches to a single central theme.  Among those from whose work we will draw are (in alphabetical, not thematic, order): Dummett, Edgington, Fine, Graff-Fara, Greenough, Raffman, Shapiro, Van Rooy, Varzi, Williamson, Wright.  I will also draw on my own work, distant as well as more recent.  Through much of the course the context dependence of vague predicates will play a prominent part.  Students enrolled in the course will be expected to write an essay (of about 3000 words), which will be due at the end of the quarter. Hans Kamp, Autumn 2012
Seminar: Psycholinguistics
Topic: Long distance Dependencies: Parsing and Syntactic Theory
Ming Xiang, Spring 2012
50510. This course covers the recent development in the field of Neuroscience of Language, with a focus on electrophysiology research. We will look at the major findings in speech perception, lexical semantics and sentence processing and discuss how formal linguistics can help moving the field forward. Basic methodological tools will also be introduced and students will practice on actual ERP data collection and analysis.
Seminar: Psycholinguistics
Topic: Experimental Approaches to Semantics and Pragmatics
Ming Xiang, Spring 2014
50510. How do we compute semantic and pragmatic meaning in sentence and discourse processing? How does our knowledge of the world enter into our computation? How should we approach the mapping hypothesis between abstract linguistic representations and observable language behavior? This course will address these theoretical issues from an experimental point of view. To familiarize students with the major debates and arguments on these issues, we will also introduce different experimental methods that have been used in the field.
Seminar: Pragmatics
Topic: Implicature
Chris Kennedy, Winter 2014
51600. In this seminar, we will take an in-depth look at current theories of conversational implicature.  We will start out with a review of the classic (neo)-Gricean approach to implicature and the kinds of empirical and theoretical concerns that motivate it, then move to a consideration of contemporary re-thinkings of the Gricean approach, and to alternatives which “grammaticize” implicature calculation by building it into the composition system.
Seminar in Phonology
Topic: Sociophonetics
Alan Yu, Autumn 2009
52400. PQ: A course in phonetics and phonology or consent of instructor. Variation is a ubiquitous feature of speech, yet much of the variation observed is non-random. This seminar will examine this type of structured heterogeneity (Weinreich et al. 1968) from the point of view of sociophonetics. We will focus on the interrelationships between phonetic/phonological form and social factors such as speaking style and the background of the speaker, with a particular interest in explaining the origins and transmission of linguistic change. Our goals will be to (a) acquire the phonetic and phonological foundation necessary to conduct sociophonetic research through weekly practical exercises; (b) survey new sociolinguistic research that addresses issues in phonetic and phonological theories and (c) locate and explain phonetic variation in its social context while drawing on current approaches to the relationship between language and society.
Seminar: Phonology
Topic: The Phonology-Morphology Interface
Alan Yu, Winter 2012
52400. PQ: LING 30102 or consent of instructor. This seminar focuses on the question of how phonology and morphology interact. Topics to be covered include the consistency of phonological exponence of morphemes, morpheme realization, ungrammaticality, lexical phonology and cyclicity effects, and the diachronic origins of morpho-phonological patterns.
Seminar: Phonology
Topic: Prosody
Diane Brentari, Winter 2013
52400. PQ: LING 30102 or consent of instructor. This seminar will address work on prosodic structure. Research in the contemporary literature on marking prominence and constituent boundaries will be central to the discussion, and readings will include those that concern acoustic prosodic cues as well as those of the visual channel. In addition, some readings will address how work on prosody has evolved methodologically and historically, both as an autonomous grammatical component and as a set of phenomena that are studied for potential effects at the interfaces of other grammatical components.
Seminar: Phonology
Topic: Computational Phonology
Jason Riggle, Spring 2013
22460/52400. PQ: LING 30102 or consent of instructor.  This seminar will focus on computational implementations of generative phonological models with an emphasis on constraint-based theories of phonology.  We will use computational implementations to evaluate phonological models from the perspectives of complexity, learnability, and typological adequacy.  The course will involve light programming in Python but prior programming experience is not required.
Seminar: Phonology
Topic: Coarticulation
Alan Yu, Winter 2014
52400. The notion of "coarticulation" might seem easier to grasp enough at first glance, but when you dig deeper, you'll find that researchers have widely differing opinions on what it really is. The most pressing questions include, (i) is coarticulation planned or simply a consequence of articulatory inertia? Put it differently, is coarticulation part of phonology? (ii) are there functional motivations for coarticulation? That is, do speakers coarticulate in order to help the listener's comprehension? (iii) how do listeners deal with coarticulated speech? (iv) how is coarticulation related to language variation and change at the phonetic and phonological levels? To examine these issues closely, we will investigate a particular type of coarticulation together as a class project (i.e. we will design and implement an experiment together). Students taking the class for credit will also have to pick (in consultation with the instructor) a type of coarticulatory pattern to investigate on their own and to report to class their findings.
Seminar: Morphology
Topic: Distributed Morphology
Karlos Arregi, Spring 2013
52900. This course covers recent trends in the framework of Distributed Morphology and related theories. The topics include allomorphy and locality, the syntax-morphology interface, syntactic vs. postsyntactic accounts of syncretism, and the typology of postsyntactic operations.
Philosophy of Language Seminar: Quotations, Pictures, Words
53300.  (=DVPR 53302, PHIL 53300).  This seminar will examine one of the primary devices by means of which we talk about language and mental content.  Topics will include the varieties of quotation:  direct, indirect, mixed, pure, and non-literal (scare-quotes); various current theories of direct and indirect quotation; the relation between quotation and meaning; context-sensitivity and quotation; and the pictorial character of quotation.  More generally, the seminar will investigate quotation as a phenomenon on the border between semantics and pragmatics and between linguistic and non-linguistic modes of representation.  Readings will be drawn from authors such as Frege, Quine, Tarski, Davidson, Bennnett, Cappelen and Lepore, H. Clark, Recanti, Garcia-Carpintero, Geurts, C. Potts, Kaplan, T. Parsons, Predelli, Burge Peacocke, Brandom, Reimer, Richard, Saka, Sperber and Wilson, and Washington.  Josef Stern, Winter 2014.
Gesture, Sign and Language
53450. (=CDIN 53350, PSYC 43350). PQ: Consent of instructor. The notion of gesture has been used in many ways and in a variety of disciplines. The study of sign languages has allowed us to raise a new series of questions about the role of gesture in language and communication. It is well established that gestures play an important role in spoken languages. What is the relationship between gestures used as an entire language (i.e., sign languages), and those used as a parallel part of a spoken language (i.e., the gestures of hearing people)? What cognitive mechanisms underlie the use of gesture in its various forms? How does the study of gesture shed light on the emergence of language? Scholars already working on gesture in the Humanities and Social Sciences Divisions may be invited to be guest lecturers in the course as time permits. Diane Brentari, Susan Goldin-Meadow, Autumn 2012
Seminar in Sociolinguistics
Topic: Dialect Leveling, Koineization, and the Emergence of Multiethnic Speech Styles in Present Day Europe
Royneland, Winter 2012
57202. In this course we examine some of the results of dialect and language contact in present day Europe. We will look at the most recent developments of the dialect-standard relation, as well its historical background. We will also study the emergence of koines and new multiethnolectal speech styles among urban adolescents across Europe.
Cultural Consequences of Colonization
59602. (=CDIN 59602, CRES 59602, HIST 59602, LACS 59602). This course will examine cultural change in the context of various paradigmatic cases of colonization across the centuries, ranging from Mediterranean Antiquity to the sixteenth century colonization in the Americas and late nineteenth-century imperialisms.  We will examine artistic, linguistic, and religious changes, among others. Dain Borges, Salikoko Mufwene, Spring 2010.
Basque Linguistics Seminar
Topic: Basque Sound Patterns
Onederra, Spring 2012
59700. In this course we will be dealing with the phonology of Basque, its main characteristics and some of its dialect-specific features. We will work on issues of particular interest within the theoretical framework of Natural Phonology. We will discuss some consequences of sociolinguistic historical factors on the present phonological knowledge of Basque speakers. Special attention will be given to the fact that the language is spoken by bilingual speakers whose other language is either French or Spanish.



From Indo-European to Old Church Slavonic
32001. (=SLAV 22001/32001)  Essentials of Slavic historical grammar with emphasis on the  evolution of Proto-Slavic verbal and nominal morphology. Prerequisite: Some acquaintance with either Old Church Slavonic or Indo-European. Yaroslav Gorbachov, Autumn 2009

Old Church Slavonic
25100/35100. (=SLAV 22000/32000) PQ: Knowledge of another Slavic language or good knowledge of one or two other old Indo-European languages required; SLAV 20100/30100 recommended. This course is an introduction to the language of the oldest Slavic texts. It begins with a brief historical overview of the relationship of Old Church Slavonic to Common Slavic and the other Slavic languages. This is followed by a short outline of Old Church Slavonic inflectional morphology. The remainder of the course is spent in the reading and grammatical analysis of original texts in Cyrillic or Cyrillic transcription of the original Glagolitic. Victor Friedman, Winter 2010

Old Norse
40800. This course is an introduction to the language of the medieval Scandinavian peoples.  Students acquire basic reading skills and are introduced to elements of Scandinavian dialectology and Germanic historical linguistics.  Readings include selections from the Prose Edda, sagas, scaldic poetry, and runic inscriptions. Yaroslav Gorbachev, Spring 2011



Advanced Reading in Swahili 1, 2, 3
28375-28376-28377/38375-38376-38377. PQ SWAH 27400 or 37400, or Instructor’s consent.  This course emphasizes analysis and discussion about various literary and audiovisual works in Swahili.  The presentations in class will cover novels and short stories as well as popular movies.  The students also will be assigned short literary works and other authentic texts or audiovisual materials for written homework and in class discussion.  In the end, the students will be able to express an informed appreciation in Swahili on original works and formal discourse in Swahili. Fidele Mpiranya. Ay 13-14.


Elementary Georgian I, II, III
22100/32100, 22200/322000, 22300/32300. Georgian is a non-Indo European language that belongs to the small South Caucasian language family. It is a less-commonly-taught language that is only taught regularly at the University of Chicago. This is a three-quarter course that covers basic Modern Georgian grammar and includes writing, reading, listening, and speaking activities. We'll be referring to Howard Aronson's textbook (Georgian: A Reading Grammar) and supplementing with additional authentic texts, audio, and video materials that will be provided in class. Tamra Wysocki. AY 13-14.
Intermediate Georgian I, II, III
22400-22500-22600/32400-32500-32600. This course reviews and reinforces the grammar principles presented in Elementary Georgian through the reading and analysis of selected texts written by influential Georgian authors and poets. Additional class exercises are provided to
strengthen listening and speaking skills. Tamra Wysocki. AY 13-14.