Introduction to Linguistics (LING 100)

Professor: Sophia A. Malamud

Course Syllabus



Special note:
If you are a student with a documented disability on record at Brandeis University and wish to have a reasonable accommodation made for you in this class, please see me immediately

Course Schedule
Homework assignments and weekly readings are linked to the class schedule and on LATTE. Please check it every week!
Course Description

Ling 100 is a general introduction to the nature, history, and use of human language, speech, and writing. It is appropriate for any undergraduate or graduate student interested in language or its use. Topics include:

The course has no prerequisites.

Community Engaged / Experiential Learning

 This class will have a Community-Engaged Learning / Experiential Learning component. Students will record Waltham residents' speech, transcribe it, and create a linguistic resource for the academic community and the local community, with the guidance from the instructor and TAs. To create the linguistic resource, students will apply the knowledge of linguistics to annotating the transcript with information about the linguistic properties of the sound, structure, meaning, and context of the speech.


 Meetings are scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 10:10pm, in Volen 105.

 SOME Monday class meetings will be recitation/practice sessions (see schedule)!
Watch this space for recitation locations.

Contact Information
Language and Linguistics Program website:

Professor Sophia A. Malamud Phone 781-736-2225
(if dialing from campus, just 62225)
Office Volen 137 (Mailbox is in Computer Science Department)
Office Hours: Tuesday 12-2pm OR
e-mail for appointment

T.F. Shukti Chaudhuri-Brill Office Goldfarb 104 (in the library)
Office Hours: TBA
e-mail for appointment


There is one required text, available at the Brandeis bookstore.

Additional readings will be distributed in class and/or online.


In addition to doing the readings and attending class, students will be expected to complete four kinds of assignments for which they will be graded.

Waltham Speech Project

Small groups of students will be assigned specific portions of the Community Engaged/Experiential Learning project. The project will involve different groups of students engaging with the local residents to create a digital recording of a sample of their speech, creating a transcript of the recording, and annotating the transcript with phonetic, phonological, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic information. A portion of lecture time and of the homework will be dedicated to training students in the tasks necessary for the project. A T.A. will meet with each group to discuss their portion of the project, and students will be individually graded on the annotation they produce. The results of everyone's efforts will be put together into a digital resource, which will be made available to local residents whose speech is analysed, as well as published to be utilized by the academic community.


There will be eleven homework assignments, handed out once a week. The homeworks will be usually (but not always!) due on the following Wednesday at the beginning of class. They will be graded on a scale of 0-10.

Your lowest homework grade will automatically be dropped at the end of the semester, and will not figure in the calculation of your final grade. If you skip any homework, that grade of zero will be dropped. Rules for homework submission:


A take-home midterm exam will be given out in October.


A comprehensive final exam will cover material from the entire course, but with more emphasis on the second half of the course not covered in the mid-term.

Attendance and Participation

Attendance at practice/recitation sessions will be checked every week when there is a recitation. Class attendance at lectures will be checked randomly. Attendance and participation is mandatory for passing this course. This is because we are not strictly following the textbook, and while assigned readings will provide a lot of information, the only way to learn what is covered is to attend.
Please be on time - lateness is disruptive to your own and others' learning.
While the class meetings on Wednesdays and Thursdays will mainly take the form of lectures, a certain amount of discussion will be helpful. The Monday classes will be for the most part dedicated to recitation-like review and in-class exercises, and students are expected to take an active role in these meetings.

Academic Integrity

You are expected to be honest in all of your academic work. The University policy on academic honesty is distributed annually as section 5 of the Rights and Responsibilities handbook. Instances of alleged dishonesty will be forwarded to the Office of Campus Life for possible referral to the Student Judicial System. Potential sanctions include failure in the course and suspension from the University. If you have any questions about my expectations, please ask.


The final grade for the course will be determined according to the following weights:

Homework assignments 50%  
Waltham Speech Project 12%  
Midterm 15%  
Final exam 15%  
Attendance and Participation 8%  

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page maintained by Sophia Malamud
last updated August 23, 2009