Student Input Requested – Ling 312

Dear Linguistics students,

As some of you know, next semester I will be teaching LING 312 “Topics in Linguistic Analysis” (TTh 10:30-11:50). This course is “an opportunity to pursue intensive readings in specialized topics pertaining to formal linguistic theory and research methods”.

I am considering two possible topics for this course. If you are currently enrolled in LING 312, or are considering enrolling, I would very much like your input on which topic you would prefer for us to cover. Please email me at pearsonm@reed.edu to let me know your thoughts. The two possible topics are:

(1) The Structure of Austronesian Languages — A survey of the phonology, morphology, and especially syntax of languages from the Austronesian family. Austronesian is a large family which includes the languages of the Philippines, Indonesia, Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Madagascar, along with the indigenous (non-Chinese) languages of Taiwan and some of the coastal languages of New Guinea and surrounding islands. We will read and discuss grammatical sketches and original research on Austronesian languages. Written work will consist of problem sets and/or a short research paper. In addition, each student will ‘adopt’ an Austronesian language for the duration of the course and periodically give brief presentations on features of their chosen language to the rest of the class. The course will be open to any student who has completed LING 211.
(2) The Syntax of Case and Agreement — An in-depth investigation of case and agreement systems, with a focus on formal syntactic theories of case and agreement. Topics that we will investigate include: Theories of how case and agreement are manifested in the grammar, the nature of ergativity and split-ergativity, and the relationship (or lack thereof) between morphological case and syntactic case. Students will complete a short research paper on a language or theoretical topic of their choice. Note that, although we will be reading some sophisticated primary syntax literature, students will NOT be expected to have completed LING 323 “Introductory Syntax” (we will begin the class by covering the material on case covered in that course). The course will be open to any student who has completed LING 211, LING 323, or both.

Please send me your feedback on these topics by Friday, November 10.

Thanks!
-Matt

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