Applied Linguistics 601


Fall 2014

Charles Meyer

Office: Wheatley 6-68
Office Phone: 287-6748 (email is the best way to contact me)
To get this syllabus on line, go to: Blackboard or
Office hours: T: 3-4, W: 5:30-7, or by appointment. I'm also available on Skype; contact me for details.

Course Text

Charles F. Meyer, Introducing English Linguistics. This book is available as a free e-book on ebrary in the Healey Library (you'll need to supply a valid library barcode to access the book), or you can purchase the book either in the bookstore or from online vendors such as Amazon. All royalties I earn from sales of this book in this class will be donated to Father Bill's Shelter in Quincy, MA. Cambridge University Press has a website for the book that contains some of the material on the syllabus below, plus some voice-annotated PowerPoint presentations that I made covering various topics in the individual chapters.

Blackboard Vista

We will be using the Blackboard Vista online learning system to communicate outside class. You can log into Blackboard here. If you have any difficulties using Blackboard, please contact Blackboard support, not me. 

Course Goals

Apling 601 has two primary goals: (1) to introduce you to the basic linguistic concepts necessary for understanding how sounds, words, sentences, and texts are structured in English; and (2) to help you use these concepts to contrast the structure of English with the structure of other languages. This is a course in language theory, not language pedagogy. Consequently, while this course will indirectly help you teach ESL/EFL, bilingual education, or foreign languages, it will not focus on direct applications of linguistics in the language classroom.

Course Requirements


Students with Disabilities

If you have a disability and feel you will need accommodations in order to complete course requirements, please contact the Ross Center for Disability Services (Campus Center, second floor, room 2010) at 617-287-7430)

Academic Support Services

If you’d like help with your writing, go to the Graduate Writing Center
, Campus Center (within Academic Support), 1st Floor Rm. 1100 Phone: 617-287-6550, email: Even though the writing assignments aren't due for a while, it's best to set up a tutoring session as soon as possible: as the semester progresses, the Writing Center gets quite busy.

Electronic Devices

Please make sure that all cell phones are turned off (including those set to vibrate). It's fine to use the campus WiFi during class for class-related purposes, but please no web surfing, texting, checking email, etc. during class.

Topics and Reading Assignments

(1) Readings that are underlined and highlighted can be found by going to the online version of the syllabus and clicking on the article title.

(2) IEL = Introducing English Linguistics

(3) ER follows readings on e-reserve. To obtain an article on e-reserve, go here and then click 'accept' after typing in the course password, which I will give you in class.

(4) A good reference guide for linguistics is Wikipedia. Just go to the main page and type in words or phrases that you'd like to read more about. You can also refer to David Crystal's Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics (2003), which is available in the reference section of the library (P29 .C65 2003) and also as a searchable e-book through the library catalog.


Sept. 3: Course overview; Course policies and requirements; the functions of language

Language Study

Sept. 10: IEL, Ch. 1, "The Study of Language"; Pinker, "10 ‘Grammar Rules’ it’s OK to Break (Sometimes)"; "Prescriptive Grammar"; Gee, "Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics" (ER) 

Language Change, Development, Classification, and Death 

Sept. 17: IEL, Ch. 2, "The Development of English"; Nicholas Wade, "What We All Spoke When the World Was Young"; Language families: "Ethnologue Language Family Index" (just browse through this link; we'll take a more focused look in class); O'Hehir, "Excuse me, do you speak Klingon?";  “25 Most Endangered Languages in the World”; Green, "Spanish," pp. 197-203 (ER); Kay, "Arabic," pp. 560-3 (ER); DeLancy, "Chinese," pp. 703-5 (ER).


Sept. 24: IEL, Ch. 3, "The Social Context of English": Grammatical vs. Pragmatic Meaning (pp. 48-49); Sentence vs. Utterance (pp. 49-50); Speech Acts (pp. 50-55); The Cooperative Principle (pp. 55-62); Politeness ( pp. 62-70); Angier, "The Politics of Polite"; Wikipedia, "T-V Distinction"

Oct..  1: IEL, Ch. 3, "The Social Context of English" (cont.): Speaker Variables (pp. 70-76); IEL, Ch. 4, "The Structure of English Texts": Defining a Text (pp. 80-81); Register or Genre? (pp. 81-82); Spoken and Written Registers (pp. 83-84); Unity of Structure (pp. 84-98)

Oct. 8:  IEL, Ch. 4, "The Structure of English Texts" (cont.): Unity of Texture (pp. 98-108)


Oct. 15: IEL, Ch. 5, "English Syntax": Constituency (pp. 112-113);  Formal vs. Notional Definitions (pp. 113-115); Linear and Hierarchical Structuring of Constitutents (pp. 115-116); Form and Function (pp. 116-117); Word Classes and Phrases (pp. 117-130); Paper #1 due

Oct. 22: IEL, Ch. 5, "English Syntax" (cont.): Clauses, Sentences, and Clause Functions (pp. 130-146);

Oct.  29: Generative Grammar: Radford, "Grammar" (ER); Green, "Spanish," pp. 211-215 (ER); Kay, "Arabic," pp. 575-6 (ER); DeLancy, "Chinese," pp. 715-719 (ER); Exam #1 due


Nov. 5: IEL, Ch. 6, "English Words: Structure and Meaning": Introduction and The Morpheme (pp. 150-156); Rubba, "An Overview of the English Morphological System";  Green, "Spanish," pp. 206-211 (ER); Kay, "Arabic," pp. 571-5 (ER); DeLancy, "Chinese," pp. 708-715 (ER).


Nov. 12: IEL, Ch. 6, "English Words: Structure and Meaning" (cont.): Lexical Semantics (pp. 157-182); "Number Systems of the World"; in class viewing of The Linguists.

Nov. 19: IEL, Ch. 6, "English Words: Structure and Meaning" (cont.): Deixis (pp. 182-192); Deutscher, "Does Your Language Shape how You Think?"; Petruck, "Frame Semantics"

Phonetics and Phonology

Nov. 26: There will be no on-campus meeting of class this week. Instead, we will cover the assigned readings on Blackboard Learn. More details forthcoming. Readings: “The Interpreter”; Everett, "Cultural Constraints on Grammar and Cognition in Pirahã" (ER)

Dec. 3: IEL, Ch. 7, "The Sounds of English": Speech Segments (pp. 196-208); The International Phonetic Alphabet: Consonants and Vowels

Dec. 10.: IEL, Ch. 7, "The Sounds of English" (cont.): Suprasegmentals (pp. 208-216); Green, "Spanish," pp. 201-6 (ER); Kay, "Arabic," pp. 563-7 (ER); DeLancy, "Chinese," pp. 705-57 (ER); Paper #2 due

Review for Exam 2, which will be distributed by email after class. The 2nd exam is due no later than 10:00 am on Thursday, Dec. 18 (more details later).

This is an ambitious syllabus. We will probably fall behind as the semester progresses. If this happens, some of the later topics may not be covered in as much detail as the earlier topics.