Human Language

English 1060
Section 1
Matthew Gordon
Tuesday
Thursday
11:00-12:15

This course cross-listed with Anthropology 1060-01 and Linguistics 1060-01

Language is a uniquely human achievement, a development that sets us apart from other animals. It is a powerful tool that we use during our every waking hour (and during much of our sleep). Still, we rarely stop to appreciate the complex role it plays in our everyday life. This course explores language from a variety of perspectives. We will consider the structure of language, looking at how sounds combine to form words and how words combine to form sentences. To gain a sense of the diversity of linguistic structures, we will consider examples from a variety of the world’s languages. We will also investigate the social functioning of language. We will learn about American dialects and about differences in the speech of men and women. Along the way, we will take on a number of popular myths about "primitive" languages, grammar rules, the language of the media, etc. In sum, the course will teach you how to make nouns plural in Swahili, how to recognize St. Louisans by their dialect and, most importantly, how to think critically about language.