LING 115 — Spring 2017
Linguistic Typology and Constructed Languages

Professor:Jonathan North Washington
Office:Pearson 105
Office phone:x6134
Office hours:M 3:45-5:15pm, T 1:30-3:00pm, by appointment
Email: jwashin1@swarth...
 
Lecture Time:M 6:30pm-9:15pm
Classroom:Science Center 128
Course website: http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/jwashin1/ling115
Course moodle site: S17 - LING115.01

Content

This class is both a linguistic typology class and a class on conlangs.

Humans have long been driven to duplicate and manipulate the properties of natural language to create new languages for the purposes of enhancing works of fiction, for aiding human communication, or even for pure intellectual curiosity. In this course, students will explore this drive through development of their own constructed languages, guided by rigorous study of the typology of patterns observed in real human languages. Topics to be covered include phoneme inventories, phonological rules, morphological classification, syntactic structure, language change over time, dialectal variation, and writing systems. Students will also apply their knowledge of linguistic typology to critically assess the design of existing constructed languages such as Esperanto and Klingon.

Prerequisites: LING 001 or 045, or permission of the instructor. The prerequisite can be satisfied by displaying sufficient knowledge of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Specifically, you should know all of the symbols for the phonemes and major allophones of English and be familiar with the symbols for commonly encountered non-English sounds, such as front round vowels, trills, retroflexes, uvulars, etc. You should also have a basic understanding of the geography of the vocal tract.

Required Materials

The following books, available from the bookstore, are required:

Readings from these resources will be available elsewhere (e.g., Moodle):

Other individual readings may be assigned periodically.

Also, you'll need to be able to access Moodle (moodle.swarthmore.edu). Some materials we use for the course will be available there (readings, etc.), as will your grades, so make sure you can access it as soon as possible. If you have any trouble with it, notify me as soon as you can. Non-Swarthmore TriCo students may not have access to Moodle immediately at the beginning of the semester—let me know if this is the case for you, and I will make sure you have access to resources in some other way.

The course website (listed above, and linked to from the Moodle course) contains the syllabus and schedule for the semester, which will mostly just house the syllabus, overall schedule, and links to new materials as they become available.

Office Hours

I hold regular office hours (listed above), and can be available at other times by appointment—just send me an e-mail letting me know when you might prefer to meet.

If you are having any trouble with class, such as with understanding a concept or completing an assignment, please don't hesitate to ask me for help. I'm here to help you learn, so I encourage you to take advantage of my availability.

Policies

Classroom etiquette

Show up on time and silence cell phones. You may eat and drink as long as it doesn't disturb other students and the lecturer. If you need to step out of the class for any reason (bathroom, emergency phone call, etc.), please do so with minimum disruption (i.e., don't ask for permission).

If you use a computer, tablet, or other electronic device for taking notes (etc.), please use it only for relevant classroom activities. In other words, please refrain from any sort of non-class-related activities, including messaging (e-mail, social media, etc.), homework for other courses, or even planning for next week's presentation. Even the best multitaskers are still not participating fully when they're engaging in unrelated endeavours. If it's too difficult to avoid the temptation of these other distractions, you may try strategies like turning off the device's wifi, or simply taking notes on paper.

Note on pronouns: if you'd like to be referred to by a pronoun that you think I might not guess correctly or if you notice me referring to you by some other pronoun than what you'd prefer, please let me know so that I can get it right.

Class meetings

All material covered during course-related activities—including assigned readings, presentations, and homeworks—should be assumed to be required course content. It is each student's responsibility to attend all classes to learn the material covered. If you must miss a class, it is courteous to notify your professor ahead of time if at all possible, but it will be your responsibility to learn about missed material from classmates. It is not my responsibility to make up for your absence or re-teach the material. (That said, let me know if you're having trouble making something up.) With so few class meetings, missing one day can be a very big deal—so I really recommend trying not to miss class.

The assigned readings are to be read in advance of the class dates they're assigned for. The readings complement in-class activities and provide the necessary background; however, you should not assume that they will be fully summarized or reviewed in class. Students should be prepared to evaluate, integrate, or respond to the readings in class discussions.

Turning in assignments on time

Homework is generally assigned on a Monday and due the following Monday, so you should usually have a full week to work on it. Homework is due at the beginning of class. Late homework will not be accepted under any circumstances. To compensate for this strict policy, your lowest homework grade is dropped when computing your overall homework average.

Classroom etiquette

Show up on time and silence cell phones. You may eat and drink as long as it doesn't disturb other students and the lecturer. If you need to step out of the class for any reason (bathroom, emergency phone call, etc.), please do so with minimum disruption (i.e., don't ask for permission).

If you use a computer, tablet, or other electronic device for taking notes (etc.), please use it only for relevant classroom activities. In other words, please refrain from any sort of non-class-related activities, including messaging (e-mail, social media, etc.), homework for other courses, or even planning for next week's presentation. Even the best multitaskers are still not participating fully when they're engaging in unrelated endeavours. If it's too difficult to avoid the temptation of these other distractions, you may try strategies like turning off the device's wifi, or simply taking notes on paper.

Note on pronouns: if you'd like to be referred to by a pronoun that you think I might not guess correctly or if you notice me referring to you by some other pronoun than what you'd prefer, please let me know so that I can get it right.

Any excuse for missing any course-related activities will need to be handled by your class dean. Please see the Medical Excuse Policy (http://www.swarthmore.edu/student-health/medical-excuse-policy), and remember to contact your class dean as soon as you can so that they can work with you.

Academic Integrity

You are always expected to do your own work on assignments. On the other hand, for completing homework assignments, you are allowed to collaborate with other students and use the internet as a resource (as long as you avoid resources that present answers or solutions outright). You may also consult other sources when preparing presentations. However, please cite any sources you use or other students you worked with on both homeworks and presentations. In the end, you must always do your own work—this means that you must state things in your own words and show that you understand any ideas that you got from another source.

Using words or ideas from another source without attribution constitutes plagiarism, and misrepresenting another student's work as your own (or allowing another student to misrepresent your work as their own) is cheating. Please see the student handbook for the College's policies on academic misconduct (http://www.swarthmore.edu/student-handbook/academic-policies#academic_misconduct). Suspected cases of academic misconduct will be pursued to the full extent of College policy, including referral to the College Judicial Committee.

So please just be honest. And if you have any questions about what's considered acceptable, ask me first.

Grading

There are two main types of grades you may receive on an assignment. Some of your assignments (or portions of assignments) will be graded primarily with a coarse measure of completion and correctness as outlined by the following five-tiered scale:

✓+perfect or nearly so: every portion of the assignment is complete; the prose is grammatical and coherent, and uses terminology appropriately and correctly; there may be a few minor errors, but no major errors
very good: every major portion of the assignment is complete; the prose is generally grammatical and coherent, and uses terminology appropriately and correctly; there may be multiple minor errors and/or a few major errors
✓-fair: most of the assignment is complete, but a few minor portions may be missing; the prose is sufficient, but may have flaws in grammar, logic, or terminology; there may be multiple major errors, but a basic understanding of the material is still apparent
unsatisfactory: major portions of the assignment may be missing; the prose is insufficient, or may have many flaws in grammar, logic, or terminology; there may be multiple major errors based on basic misunderstanding of the material
0not handed in

The remainder of your assignments will be graded with a fine-grained measure of completion and correctness based on normal letters grades and grade points (A = 4.0, B = 3.0, C = 2.0, D = 1.0, and F = 0.0), with the standard modifiers + (one-third of a grade point higher) and - (one-third of a grade point lower). In addition, intermediate grades using parentheses or a slash may be used, giving the following correspondence between letter grade and grade points:

A+4.33
A(+)4.17
A4.00
A(-)3.83
A-3.67
A/B3.50
B+3.33
B(+)3.17
B3.00
B(-)2.83
B-2.67
B/C2.50
C+2.33
C(+)2.17
C2.00
C(-)1.83
C-1.67
C/D1.50
D+1.33
D(+)1.17
D1.00
D(-)0.83
D-0.67
D/F0.50

You may discuss homework assignments with other students, but you must write up your own homework, in your own words, listing the names of all students you worked with.

Your homework should be either neatly written or (preferably) typed in a reasonable font (e.g., 10-12pt font). Please do not submit spiral-bound paper with ragged edges! Staple (rather than paper clip or fold) multiple pages together. Be sure to put your name on every page in case they get separated.

Whether you hand-write or type your assignments, leave sufficient physical space on the page for me to write feedback on your work. In particular, your assignments should be double-spaced (so I can make short, interlinear comments), with 1" margins (for slightly larger comments), using only one side of the paper (so that more substantial comments can be written on the back).

I will accept electronic submissions (e.g., by email) in place of paper hardcopies, but they are subject to the same requirements and deadlines, and must additionally be in PDF format.

Course Grade Components

The grade in this course is broken down into the following components. Each component is expounded upon following the table.

Homework assignments:40%
Class presentations:30%
Engagement:20%
Final project write-up:10%

Presentations (30%) and Final Project (10%)

The final project is a full, descriptive grammar of a constructed language of your design. More details about the requirements for the write-up will be given as the course progresses, but expect the final work to be rather large and involved, since you will be working on it throughout the semester. In addition to the final write-up, you will give periodic in-class presentations about 10–15 minutes long summarizing recent updates to your final project constructed language, with brief discussion of the more interesting details. These presentations should be accompanied by a handout/write-up mirroring and supplementing the content of the presentation.

Engagement (20%)

Because this is a seminar, you should fully contribute in significant ways to every class discussion. Be prepared to provide interesting, relevant, and useful questions, reactions, and opinions at all times. In particular, an important part of this course is the creative workshop aspect, so you are expected to provide regular feedback to your classmates on their work. Simply showing up to class is not sufficient.

Participation in the conlang relay later in the semester (information available at that time) will also be counted as a major portion of the engagement component of your grade

Homework assignments (40%)

You may collaborate on the problem solving portions of homeworks, but you must write up your own responses, unique from other students'. I suggest you only take notes when working with friends and then write up your responses alone, in your own words. Work identical to another student's, even partially, will be investigated for plagiarism.

No make-up or extra credit assignments will be given, and if you miss class, it is still your responsibility to make sure you understand the requirements of the assignment. Please talk with the instructor if you think you will miss a class.

Disabilities

If you believe that you need accommodations for a disability, please contact Leslie Hempling in the Office of Student Disability Services (Parrish 113) or email lhempli1@swarthmore.edu to arrange an appointment to discuss your needs. As appropriate, she will issue students with documented disabilities a formal Accommodations Letter. Since accommodations require early planning and are not retroactive, please contact her as soon as possible. For details about the accommodations process, visit the Student Disability Service Website at http://www.swarthmore.edu/academic-advising-support/welcome-to-student-disability-service. You are also welcome to contact me privately to discuss your academic needs. However, all disability-related accommodations must be arranged through the Office of Student Disability Services.