This course is an introduction to the non-structural aspects of language with an emphasis on cultural diversity. Students will develop an appreciation of cultural diversity by studying similarities and differences among languages of the world, 3 from the Indo-European and 3 from the non-Indo-European language families. Topics covered may include, but are not restricted to, language development and language attrition/language death, language classification, typology and universals, language change, meaning in language, writing, the modern world and communication.
Part I: Language
1. What is Language?
Defining language; language and speech; language and society; language and culture
2. Studying Language
The scientific approach to language; anthropological linguistics; linguistic analysis; language, mind and culture; language, discourse and variation
3. The Origin and Evolution of Language
Theories; reconstruction; core vocabularies; language change; primate language experiments
4. Language Levels
Describing language; the phonological level; the morphological level; the syntactic level; the semantic level
Part II: Language and Society
1. Language and Social Phenomena
Language and gender; markedness theory; language and style; naming people; artificial languages
2. Using Language
Conversational devices; speech acts; situational focussing; language functions; language and myth
Writing systems; literacy; abbreviated writing; online communication
Variant types; slang; jargon; borrowing
Part III: Language, Mind and Culture
1. Language and Classification
The Whorfian Hypothesis; specialized vocabularies; made-up languages
2. Language and Concepts
Sound symbolism; words and concepts; anthropomorphism; grammar and thought
What is a metaphor?; conceptual metaphors; metonymy and irony; metaphor and gesture; cultural reification
4. Pop Language
What is pop language?; hip talk; hip talk and gender
Methods of Instruction
Lectures, in-class tutorials, group work, group discussion, problem solving, data analysis, short reports by students
Means of Assessment
A typical assessment would include the following elements:
- Attendance/participation/preparation 15%
- Short oral reports as part of in class discussions 25%
- 4 Assignments at 5% each (data analysis) 20%
- 4 exams to a total of 20%
- Portfolio 5% (to accompany the poster, as a way of keeping track of the progress)
- Poster presentation 15% (final work)
(Note: no assignment will be more than 20%)
Students will develop an appreciation of cultural diversity by analyzing a variety of language samples drawn among different languages, Indo-European and non-Indo-European.
By the end of term, the successful student will:
- better understand the role the non-structural parts play in language
- acquire some strategies to analyse and compare language samples
- appreciate cultural diversity and be aware that different cultures may have different linguistic strategies to encode concepts
Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.
Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system.
A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.
For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.
If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.