LIN 200: Foundations of Linguistics

Instructor Lecture Day/Time Lecture Hall Email Office Hours Office
Masoud Jasbi Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:10 - 5:30 PM Kerr Hall 273 Friday 1-2pm or by email Kerr Hall 279


Week Month Date Topic Readings Assignments
1 September 22 ّIntro to Philosophy of Science and Linguistics Scholz et al (2022). Intro
Ladyman(2002): Understanding Philosophy of Science Ch.1.2-3 (Check Canvas Files)
2 27 The History of Linguistics Campbell (2001) The History of Linguistics
von Humboldt (1813) Ch.1 and 6 (Check Canvas Files)
de Suassure (1916) Intro Ch.2-5 and Part 1
Optional: Kiparsky. On the Architecture of Panini’s Grammar
3 October 4 Approaches to Linguistic Theorizing: The Externalists Scholz et al (2022). Section 1-1.1
Harris, Zellig. (1954). Distributional Structure
Harris (1946). From Morpheme to Utterance
Jurafsky and Martin (2021) Ch.6
4 11 Approaches to Linguistic Theorizing: The Emergentists Scholz et al (2022). Section 1.2-1.3
Bybee (2013). Usage-based Theory and Exemplar Representations of Constructions
Gibson et al (2019). How Efficiency Shapes Language
Optional: Kirby et al (2015): Compression and communication in the cultural evolution of linguistic structure
5 18 Approaches to Linguistic Theorizing: The Essentialists Scholz et al (2022). Section 1.4
Chomsky (1957). Syntactic Structures Chs.1,2,6,8
Chomsky (1965). Aspects of the Theory of Syntax Ch.1
Lasnik (2002). The Minimalist Program in Syntax
Abstract Outline/Argument-Map
6 25 Comparing the three Approaches and Social Aspects Scholz et al (2022). Section 1.3-4
Eckert (2012). Three Waves of Variation Study
Argument Map 1
7 November 1 The Subject Matter of Linguistic Theories Scholz et al (2022) Section 2
Hauser, Chomsky, Fitch (2002). The Faculty of Language
Pinker and Jackendoff (2005). The Faculty of Langauge (response)
Abstract (Draft)
8 8 Linguistic Methodology and Data Scholz et al (2022) Section 3
Schütze (2010). Linguistic evidence and grammatical theory
Mahowald et al. (2016) SNAP Judgments
Argument Map 2
9 15 Language Acquisition Scholz et al (2022) Section 4
Yang et al (2017) The Growth of Language
Behrens (2009): Usage-based and Emergentist Approaches to Language Acquisition
Watch Goldberg-Yang Debate
10 22 Language and Thought Wolff and Holmes (2011). Linguistic Relativity
24 Thanksgiving
11 29 Language Evolution and Change Scholz et al (2022) Section 5
Bickerton (2007). Language evolution: A brief guide for linguists
Weinrich, Labov, Herzog: Empirical foundations for theory of language change
Abstract (Final)
December 1

Course Objectives

Objective Course Component
1 Cover the foundational topics and questions in linguistics Readings
2 Critically assess the course content Class Discussion
3 Practice Coherent and Logical Academic Writing Writing Assignment


Critical Thinking 50% Discussion Forum 10% Post a question, response to a question, or comments about the week's reading on the Canvas Discussion Section. Make sure that your question or comment is really engaging deeply and critically with the materials. 10 discussions (1 per week) each 1%.
Argument Maps 40% Create two argument maps on the following two papers, each worth 20 points:
1. Mayberry et al (2002): Linguistic ability and early language exposure
2. Dingemanse et al (2016). What sound symbolism can and cannot do
Take a look at this introduction to argument maps and how we use them in this class.
Research Skills 50%
Abstract Outline/Argument-Map 5% Create an outline or an argument map for a conference abstract.
Abstract (Draft) 5% Expand your outline/argument-map to a 1 page conference abstract. You can model this abstract after the LSA annual meeting submissions linked here.
Peer-review 10% Write a 1-page peer-review for the two midterm abstracts assigned to you. Your peer-review should first briefly summarize the main argument of the abstract, then mention its strengths, followed by major issues and weaknesses, and finally minor issues such as typos or numerical errors. Take a look at this PLOS blog post on how to outline your review and this ACL guide for writing a good peer-review.
Abstract (Final) 25% Revise and edit your abstract based on the feedback you received from the peer-reviews. Submit it as the final version
Late Submission Due dates are posted on Canvas. Due dates are flexible for the discussion forum posts, argument maps, and abstract outline. Due dates are extremely strict for the abstract draft, peer-reviews, and the final version of the absract. If you miss the deadline you miss all the points. This is supposed to model real conference submissions.
Submission Format Submit your assignments in Canvas anonymously and in PDF format. Typed assignments should be Times New Roman (12pt), 1 inch margins, 1.5 line spacing. Handwritten assignments must be legible. Do not include your name or any identifying information in the assignment.
Grading We use the following grading scale:
A+ = 100-97 A = 97-93, A- = 93-90, B+ = 90-87, B = 87-83, B- = 83-80, C+ = 80-77, C = 77-73, C- = 73-70, D+ = 70-67, D = 67-63, D- = 63-60, F = 60-0.
Integrity We follow the UC Davis code of academic conduct. You are permitted to work together on the assignments. However, you must write up and submit your own unique assignments.
Accessibility If you need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability, you should initiate the request with the UC Davis Student Disability Center. Professional staff will evaluate your request, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare a letter of accommodation for me. Please contact the SDC as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations.
Addressing the Instructor I prefer Masoud. No title or last name needed. All pronouns are fine.