Formal Analysis of Words and Sentences

Northwestern University, Fall 1997

Instructor: Prof. Chris Kennedy
Office: 2016 Sheridan Rd., Rm. 12 (Linguistics Dept.)
Phone: 491-8054
Office hours: Tu 10.00-11.30, Th. 11.30-1.00, or by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Jen Hay
Office: 2016 Sheridan Rd., Rm. 17
Phone: 491-3847
Office hours: W 4.00-5.00, F 3.00-4.00

Sections: F 1.00-1.55, Lunt 104; F 2.00-2.55 Harris 203

Course description

This course provides an introduction to linguistics, the scientific study of language, with specific focus on the formal principles governing the structure of words (morphology) and sentences (syntax) in human languages. Lectures, assignments, exams and quizzes will use examples drawn both from English and from other languages around the world.

Required reading

A reading packet containing the required reading for the course is available at Quartet Copies (818 Clark St.).

Course requirements and grading

The grading for this course will be based on a midterm (42.5%), a final (42.5%), and attendance at and participation in weekly discussion sections (15%). Homework assignments will be given each week and discussed in section. Homework will typically not be collected, but it will form the basis of the discussion in section, and the instructor may choose to collect it at any time. Whether or not you do the homework will directly affect your grade, as it will both provide the basis for discussion in section and play a crucial role in developing your understanding of the material covered in class and on the exams.

The midterm will be given on Oct. 27 and the final on Dec. 8. No early or late exams will be given, except in medical emergencies with a written doctor's note.


Although the actual content covered each day may vary, the exam dates are fixed. Numbers in parentheses refer to the page numbers of the course reader.

Sept. 22 Introduction to the theory of generative grammar; fundamental questions; the univeral grammar hypothesis. Reading: Pinker ch. 1 (2-7); Chomsky bio. (8); Chomsky ch. 2 (9-11); Jackendoff ch. 2 (12-18). Optional: Pinker ch. 2 (19-35).
Sept. 24 The prescriptive/descriptive distinction and the concept of grammaticality. Reading: Crystal chs. 1-2 (54-59); Leonard and Wilson (60-61); Labov sections 4 and 6 (73-75; 79-80). Optional: the rest of Labov ; Pinker ch. 12 (37-53).
Sept. 29 Introduction to morphology; words and morphemes; morphemes and allomorphs. Reading: Pinker ch. 5 (82-84); ODA ch. 4 (109-111); Williams (98-102); "Current English Forum" (103).
Oct. 1-6 Word structure; lexical categories; head and affix; morphological analysis. Reading: Language Files 6.2 (105-108, 132); ODA ch. 4 (111-118); Pinker ch. 5 (84-88); Akmajian et. al (133).
Oct. 8 Types of morphological processes. Reading: exercises to be assigned from reader (155-166).
Oct. 13 Inflectional vs. derivational morphology. Reading: ODA (118-123).
Oct. 15 Morphological types of languages; American Sign Language. Reading: Language Files (135-137); Jackendoff ch. 7 (138-146).
Oct. 20 Topic to be announced.
Oct. 22 Words, word meaning, and the lexicon; review for midterm. Reading: Pinker ch. 5 (88-97); Pullum (147-154).
Oct. 29 Introduction to syntax; grammaticality and the performance/competence distinction. Reading: Burling ch. 9 (168-171); Pinker ch. 4 (171-179). Optional review reading: Chomsky ch. 2 (9-11) and Pinker ch. 2 (19-35).
Nov. 3 Constituent structure; phrasal categories; head of a phrase. Reading: Language Files 6.1 (180-183).
Nov. 5-10 Phrase structure of sentences; subcategorization and the lexicon; introduction to transformational grammar. Reading: ODA ch. 5 (184-194); exercises to be assigned from reader (237-256).
Nov. 12-17 Transformations; deep and surface structure. Reading: ODA ch. 5 195-203; exercises to be assigned from reader (237-256).
Nov. 19 Word order universals; the universal grammar hypothesis revisited. Reading: Language Files 6.7 (225-226); Finegan and Besnier (227-230); ODA ch. 5 (231-236). Optional but highly recommended: Greenberg (204-224).
Nov. 24 An assessment of generative grammar: problems and successes; the "science" of linguistics. Reading: Gould (258-262); Burling (263-267); Searle (268-283).
Dec. 3 Review for final (optional).
Dec. 8 FINAL

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