Miracles of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics

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Beschrijving

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About this course: Everywhere, every day, everybody uses language. There is no human society, no matter how small or how isolated, which does not employ a language that is rich and diverse. This course introduces you to linguistics, featuring interviews with well-known linguists and with speakers of many different languages. Join us to explore the miracles of human language! The Miracles of Human Language introduces you to the many-faceted study of languages, which has amazed humans since the beginning of history. Together with speakers of many other languages around the world, as well as with famous linguists such as Noam Chomsky and Adele Goldberg, you will learn to understand and ana…

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When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: Everywhere, every day, everybody uses language. There is no human society, no matter how small or how isolated, which does not employ a language that is rich and diverse. This course introduces you to linguistics, featuring interviews with well-known linguists and with speakers of many different languages. Join us to explore the miracles of human language! The Miracles of Human Language introduces you to the many-faceted study of languages, which has amazed humans since the beginning of history. Together with speakers of many other languages around the world, as well as with famous linguists such as Noam Chomsky and Adele Goldberg, you will learn to understand and analyse how your native tongue is at the same time similar and different from many other languages. You will learn the basic concepts of linguistics, get to know some of the key features of big and small languages and get insight into what linguists do. This course gives an introduction into the study of languages, the field of linguistics. With the support of the basic linguistic terminology that is offered in the course, you will soon be able to comment both on variety between languages, as well as on a single language’s internal structure. Anyone who wishes to understand how languages work, and how they can give us insight into the human mind is very welcome to join. The course is useful if you want to get a fairly quick introduction into linguistics, for instance because you are considering studying it further, or because you are interested in a neighbouring discipline such as psychology, computer science or anthropology. Furthermore, the course will help you develop analytical skills. If you are curious to understand how language works and how it gives insight into the human mind, this course is definitely for you!

Who is this class for: This course is free, and will remain free for participants. You can purchase a certificate.

Created by:  Universiteit Leiden, Meertens instituut (KNAW)
  • Taught by:  Marc van Oostendorp, Prof. Dr

    Meertens instituut
Level Beginner Language English, Subtitles: Bulgarian How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.7 stars Average User Rating 4.7See what learners said Coursework

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Universiteit Leiden Leiden University is one of Europe's foremost research universities. This prominent position gives our graduates a leading edge in applying for academic posts and for functions outside academia. Leiden University is the oldest university in the Netherlands. It was founded in February 1575, as a gift from William of Orange to the citizens of Leiden after they had withstood a long siege by the Spanish. Our motto is: Praesidium Libertatis — Bastion of Liberty. Meertens instituut (KNAW)

Syllabus


WEEK 1


Introduction to Linguistics



In this first week, we will try to determine what makes language human: why do (almost) all human beings have a language, and what makes human language different from animal communication systems? We will furthermore discuss the many different places where linguists work, and the many different methodologies that they use for conducting their research. You will moreover get to know all the other participants in this MOOC: my students Inge and Marten, as well as the speakers of six different languages. Finally, don't forget to watch our first expert interview: Marten and Inge have talked with Dr. Victoria Nyst of Leiden University, who has enlightened us in the fascinating world of sign languages! For the assignments with the support of Ethnologue, please make sure to study the instructions listed in 'required and optional readings' of this module.


14 videos, 6 readings expand


  1. Video: Welcome to the Miracles of Human Language!
  2. Reading: Meet the instructor & his team
  3. Reading: Welcome to Leiden University
  4. Reading: Study tips for studying online
  5. Reading: Being succesful in an international virtual learning community
  6. Reading: Behaving in an academic way
  7. Discussion Prompt: Introduce yourself
  8. Discussion Prompt: Language and identity in groups
  9. Video: Human Language and Animal Communication Systems
  10. Video: Human Language Versus Other 'Languages'
  11. Video: Discussion with Marten and Inge: Language Diversity
  12. Discussion Prompt: Language diversity is a diversity of minds?
  13. Video: Language Diversity and Ethnologue
  14. Discussion Prompt: In what ways are unrelated languages similar?
  15. Video: Discussion with Marten and Inge: What do Linguists do?
  16. Video: Interview with Dr. Victoria Nyst
  17. Reading: Required and optional readings
  18. Video: Introduction language informants + introducing Han Hu, Speaker of Mandarin Chinese
  19. Video: Introducing Roberta D'Alessandro, speaker of Abruzzese
  20. Video: Introducing Khalid Mourigh, speaker of Tarifit Berber
  21. Video: Introducing Varun DeCastro-Arrazola, speaker of Basque
  22. Video: Introducing Beste Sevindik, speaker of Turkish
  23. Video: Introducing Enoch Aboh, speaker of Gungbe
  24. Video: Conclusion; language and dialect

Graded: Test your knowledge 1

WEEK 2


The study of sound: Phonology and Phonetics



In this module we will delve into what appear to be the smallest building blocks of spoken language: 'sounds'. As we will see however, all is not what it seems, as we will in fact encounter an even smaller building block of language, a true atom. Another interesting thing about this module is that as of this week our 6 informants will all only speak their own language. Naturally, there is also an interview with my very special friend Prof. dr. Claartje Levelt, whom I have announced before.


13 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: Distinguishing consonants
  2. Video: Production of speech sounds
  3. Video: Discussion with Marten and Inge: consonants of world languages
  4. Discussion Prompt: What was your first word?
  5. Video: Sounds in systems
  6. Video: Discussion with Marten and Inge: sounds and language change
  7. Video: Interview with Prof. dr. Claartje Levelt
  8. Reading: Required and optional readings
  9. Video: Introduction + Tarifit Berber
  10. Video: Gungbe
  11. Video: Turkish
  12. Video: Abruzzese
  13. Video: Mandarin Chinese
  14. Video: Basque
  15. Video: Conclusion; sounds and gestures

Graded: Test your knowledge 2

WEEK 3


The study of words and sentences: Morphology and Syntax



In this module we will discuss words and sentences. All languages have them; but as I will illustrate, they can be organized in very different ways in different languages. I will furthermore demonstrate what cupcakes have in common with words in a sentence. This module's interview is with one of the most cited and re-knowned linguists alive, Prof. Noam Chomsky! Finally, our 6 language informants will provide us with information about the word order in their languages.


14 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: Words and sentences
  2. Discussion Prompt: Words, sentences and translation
  3. Video: Morphology
  4. Discussion Prompt: On the nature of affixes
  5. Video: Discussion with Marten and Inge: world of words
  6. Video: Syntax and word order (a)
  7. Video: Syntax and word order (b)
  8. Video: Discussion with Marten and Inge: world of word order
  9. Video: Interview with Prof. Noam Chomsky
  10. Reading: Required and optional readings
  11. Video: Introduction + Basque
  12. Video: Tarifit Berber
  13. Video: Gungbe
  14. Video: Turkish
  15. Video: Abruzzese
  16. Video: Mandarin Chinese
  17. Video: Conclusion; structure beyond sentences

Graded: Test your knowledge 3
Graded: World of word order

WEEK 4


The study of meaning: Pragmatics and Semantics



This module deals with a topic which many of you find very interesting: meaning. How do we determine what a word means? To what extent does our language influence our thinking? How can we change the world with language? As usual, we also have an additional interview with an expert of the current module's theme: in this module Barend Beekhuizen talks to Inge and Marten about his work as a Leiden PhD student in computational linguistics.


13 videos, 2 readings expand


  1. Video: Layers of meaning
  2. Video: Semantics
  3. Video: Discussion with Marten and Inge: color and snow
  4. Discussion Prompt: Having no fixed description, how do we recognize objects?
  5. Video: Pragmatics
  6. Video: Discussion with Marten and Inge: changing the world with sentences
  7. Discussion Prompt: Unintentionally broken promises and Grice
  8. Video: Interview with Barend Beekhuizen MA
  9. Reading: Required and optional readings
  10. Video: Introduction + Abruzzese
  11. Video: Tarifit Berber
  12. Video: Turkish
  13. Video: Basque
  14. Video: Mandarin Chinese
  15. Video: Gungbe
  16. Video: Conclusion; untranslatable words?
  17. Reading: Quiz readings

Graded: Test your knowledge 4

WEEK 5


Language in the Brain



This module features all of the well-known parts of the current MOOC. Informants tell us about speech errors in their native tongue, I discuss everyday mistakes with my students Marten and Inge, and we have an interview with Prof. Niels Schiller of Leiden University. He discusses with us his own research among others. We moreover go on a little outing, to see linguists in their natural habitat! Furthermore, thanks to our friends at 'Babel, -The Language Magazine' we have some interesting reading for you. For example, linguist Jörg Schwyter tells us all about how he had to deal with aphasia, and how that has influenced him as a multilingual speaker.


11 videos, 2 readings expand


  1. Video: Introduction
  2. Video: Aphasia
  3. Video: Discussion with Marten and Inge: everyday mistakes and the Foreign Accent Syndrome
  4. Discussion Prompt: Everyday mistakes: blending
  5. Video: Reading in the brain
  6. Discussion Prompt: Reading and writing with Aphasia
  7. Video: Visiting the lab
  8. Video: Interview with Prof. Dr. Niels Schiller
  9. Reading: Required and optional readings
  10. Reading: Crowdfunding credits
  11. Video: Introduction + Turkish
  12. Video: Tarifit Berber
  13. Video: Abruzzese
  14. Video: Basque
  15. Video: Conclusion; dyslexia

Graded: Test your knowledge 5

WEEK 6


Language in the Society



In the previous modules we have dissected the structure of languages, but now we will study language in its real context: how does language change? How do people use language to be polite? Our informants are demonstrating their acting skills, and furthermore we have an interview with Prof. Adele Goldberg! She presents us with an alternative view of language, compared to the one as previously discussed by Prof. Chomsky in the third module.


13 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: Language change and variation
  2. Discussion Prompt: on (the nature of) linguistic change
  3. Discussion Prompt: The case of linguistic variation and Esperanto
  4. Video: Social stratification
  5. Video: Discussion with Marten and Inge: social variables
  6. Video: Politeness
  7. Video: Discussion with Marten and Inge: examples of Face
  8. Video: Interview with Prof. Adele Goldberg
  9. Reading: Required and optional readings
  10. Video: Introduction + Gungbe
  11. Video: Tarifit Berber
  12. Video: Turkish
  13. Video: Abruzzese
  14. Video: Mandarin Chinese
  15. Video: Basque
  16. Video: Conclusion; how personal are politeness strategies?

Graded: Test your knowledge 6
Graded: Final exam
Graded: Face and Politeness

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