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This subject explores the diversity and the essential characteristics of the world's languages. It draws on the concepts and methods that students have acquired in their linguistic studies so far to tackle a number of fundamental questions in linguistics: How much to languages differ? What factors underlie these differences? What descriptive systems and analytic tools do we need if we are to do justice to any human language we are interested in understanding and describing? What universals, if any, lie underneath the astounding differences in how languages are organized? How do linguistic systems evolve, and what forces shape the historical changes from one system to another? We will study these questions across a range of linguistic subsystems - e.g., phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, discourse - drawing on case studies from languages around the world and also on complementary evidence from related fields of study. Students will have the opportunity to explore current issues and debates and to address these within a specific language or set of languages.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this subject, students should:
- be able to draw on and critically evaluate major controversies and debates concerning language origins, development and diversity;
- be able to take a posision within theoretical debates in linguistics and applied linguistics;
- be able take a position towards the broader implications of research in linguistics and applied linguistics for local, national, and international stakeholders and communities;
- be able to confidently deploy skills for the description, analysis and cross-linguistic comparison of the world's languages;
- have attained advanced abilities in writing and other modalities;
- have consolidated understanding of the diversity of the world’s languages and key issues in typological research;
- be able to lead collaborative activities to address complex tasks in diverse learning settings;
- have proficiently employed learning and research technologies as well as field-specific technologies.
Last updated: 2 December 2019