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Linguistics Options for students of modern languages (Two Subject Moderatorships)

These options are available to Senior Freshman and Junior and Senior Sophister students in the Departments of French, German, Hispanic, Irish, Italian and Russian on conditions laid down by those departments.

Available options are:

LI 237A Aspects of Written Language (5 ECTS credits, Michaelmas Term)

This module examines the phenomenon of written language from a range of perspectives. It begins by exploring the beginnings and historical development of writing, in the process considering the ways in which different writing systems (e.g., word-writing, syllable writing, alphabetic writing) represent different aspects of language. Further points of discussion will be drawn from among the following: the debate around the social and individual consequences of literacy; the orthography of English; the mental processes involved in reading; written texts as coherent communicative acts; information structure and flow in written texts; differences between the language of speech and the language of writing; and the relationship between written language and communication technologies.

There is no textbook for this module; instead, students will be recommended selected readings for the different topics covered.

Assessment: Students are required to submit 2 term essays of 2,000 words.

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LI 233A Language Learning (5 ECTS credits, Michaelmas Term)

This module introduces students to key issues and findings in language acquisition research. The principal focus will be on second language acquisition, but first language acquisition will also be covered. Topics to be addressed will include: child language acquisition, the nature-nurture debate, errors and learning strategies, the learner’s ‘internal syllabus’, individual learner differences, theories of second language acquisition, communication strategies and second language teaching.

Recommended readings:

  • Cook, V. and Singleton, D. (2014) Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  • Ellis, R. and Shintani, N. (2014) Exploring Language Pedagogy through Second Language Acquisition Research. London: Routledge.
  • Mitchell, R., Myles, F. Marsden, E. (2013) Second Language Learning Theories. Third Edition. Abingdon: Routledge.

Assessment: Students are required to write three 1000-word essays in response to three weekly topics.

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LI 234A Sociolinguistics (5 ECTS credits, Hilary Term)

This module is an introduction to the study of language in its social context. Topics include accents, dialects, and standards; social dialects depending on factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic class, and social network; the relationship between language variation and language change; language planning and language rights; and language loyalty, maintenance, and shift.

Textbook: Ronald Wardhaugh, 2006. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. 5th ed. Oxford: Blackwell.

Assessment: Students are required to submit a term essay of 4,000 words.

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LI 231A Aspects of Vocabulary (5 ECTS credits, Hilary Term)

This module will attempt to demonstrate that almost everything in language is related in some way or other to words and that, conversely, the lexical dimension of language needs to be conceived of as rather more than just a list of lexical items. The topics to be explored in this connection will include: the nature of the lexicon, lexis and syntax, lexis and morphology, lexical partnerships, lexis and meaning, lexis and phonology, lexis and orthography, lexical variation, lexical change, and lexical acquisition.

Textbook: D. Singleton, Language and the Lexicon: An Introduction. London: Edward Arnold, 2000.

Assessment: Students are required to submit a term essay of 4,000 words.

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