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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Alicia Beckford Wassink
LING 455
Seattle Campus

Areal Linguistics

Issues involved in classification of languages. Systems of classification based on structure, word order, areal features. Ways in which languages may be classified for different purposes. Processes such as borrowing, vocabulary specialization, lexical change, and language death and revival. Prerequisite: either LING 200, LING 201, ANTH/LING 203, or LING 400. Offered: jointly with ANTH 455.

Class description

Autumn 2001

In this course, we will survey aspects of the linguistic structure, history, and social context of pidgin and creole languages spoken, past and present, in several locations around the world. We will consider their histories of formation and development, ask whether and how they are different from non-creole languages, and learn about the grammatical features common to language varieties that emerged from specific types of language contact situations (including, but not limited to: trade, colonization, and migration). Pidgins and creoles are believed by many scholars to be important to linguistic theory because they provide a window into universal grammar and the evolution of the human language faculty. We will explore the grounds for and against such claims. Students should have had an upper-level introduction to linguistics. Prerequisites above or instructor's permission. By the end of the quarter, students will be "specialists" in one pidgin or creole variety of their choice--its linguistic structure, historical development, and social setting. This specialization will be developed across the quarter as students "adopt" a language, and conduct an ongoing, data-based analysis project that elaborates on the features of their chosen language with respect to each of the main syllabus topics. Students will be conversant in the claims, strengths and weaknesses of the important theories of pidgin and creole genesis; in definitions of linguistic adequacy and simplification theories.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Sojourner Truth
Date: 03/08/2001