Language Science 3: Introduction to Linguistics (Winter 2021)

1 Course Information

Lecture Asynchronous
Canvas site
Online exam times 1/27 3-3:50pm, 2/17 3-3:50pm, 3/15 4-4:50pm

2 Instructor Information

Instructor Richard Futrell (
Office hours MWF 3-4pm
Zoom office

3 TA Information

TA Noa Attali Zeinab Kachakeche Niels Dickson Yongjia Song
Office hours F 9am T 9:30am Th 9am W 4pm
Zoom office link link link link

4 Section information

Time TA Zoom Link
M 11-11:50am Zeinab Kachakeche link
M 12-12:50pm Zeinab Kachakeche link
M 6-6:50pm Noa Attali link
W 10-10:50am Noa Attali link
Th 1-1:50pm Yongjia Song link
F 9-9:50am Niels Dickson link

5 Course Description

Introduction to the scientific study of human language. We will cover two main topics: (1) the concepts and tools necessary to give a scientific description of a human language, and (2) the interface between language and psychology, sociology, and technology. Students will learn how to analyze the phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics of a language, and also the basics of psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and natural language processing.

6 Course Format

Lectures will be delivered asynchronously online, linked from this page and from Canvas. They will be released on or before the dates listed in the schedule. Prof. Futrell will be available for Q&A during the scheduled lecture time in his Zoom office.

Discussion sections are synchronous and attendance is required in order to receive full credit. Discussion section time will be spent on guided exercises. Homework will consist of short problem sets.

There will be three non-cumulative multiple-choice exams administered over Canvas.

7 Intended audience

This course is intended for all students interested in language science, cognitive science, languages, communications, and related fields. There are no prerequisites.

Information on UCI's Language Science major and minor.

8 Readings

There is an optional textbook:

  • (LF) Language Files: Materials for an Introduction to Language and Linguistics, 12th Edition. Department of Linguistics, the Ohio State University.

In the syllabus, I give recommended readings. These are not mandatory, but if you do these readings, it will greatly enhance your understanding of the material.

The book is also available online from various sources.

9 Syllabus (subject to modification)

Week Topic Recommended Reading Deadlines
M 1/4 Introduction LF 1.1  
W 1/6 Basics LF 1.2-1.4  
F 1/8 Phonetics I LF 2.1-2.2  
M 1/11 Phonetics II LF 2.3  
W 1/13 Phonetics III LF 2.4-2.5  
F 1/15 Phonology I LF 3.1-3.2 Problem set 1 due
M 1/18 MLK day    
W 1/20 Phonology II LF 3.3, 3.5  
F 1/22 Phonology III    
M 1/25 Phonology IV LF 3.4 Problem set 2 due
W 1/27 Exam 1    
F 1/29 Morphology I LF 4.1-4.2  
M 2/1 Morphology II LF 4.5  
W 2/3 Morphology III LF 4.3  
F 2/5 Syntax I LF 5.1-5.2 Problem set 3 due
M 2/8 Syntax II LF 5.3-5.4  
W 2/10 Syntax III LF 5.5  
F 2/12 Syntax IV    
M 2/15 President's Day   Problem set 4 due
W 2/17 Exam 2    
F 2/19 Semantics I LF 6.1-6.2  
M 2/22 Semantics II LF 6.3-6.4  
W 2/24 Pragmatics I LF 7.1-7.2 Problem set 5 due
F 2/26 Pragmatics II LF 7.3, 7.4  
M 3/1 Language and society I LF 10.1-10.3  
W 3/3 Language and society II LF 10.4-10.5 Problem set 6 due
F 3/5 Language and thought I LF 11.2  
M 3/8 Language and thought II    
W 3/10 Writing systems LF 15.1-15.3  
F 3/12 Human Language Technologies LF 16.3-16.5 Problem set 7 due
M 3/15 Exam 3, 4-4:50pm    

10 Requirements & Grading

  • Grade breakdown

    Work Grade percentage
    Problem sets 45%
    Exams 50%
    Participation in discussion sections 5%

    All exams and problem sets are equally weighted.

  • Problem sets

    Each problem set is due at 5pm on the date indicated on the schedule. Problem sets are distributed online via Canvas. You should turn in your work by uploading a pdf document to Canvas. The easiest way to do this will be to complete the problem set by hand on paper, then upload a scan or photo of your work.

    Problem sets can be turned in up to 7 days late; 10% of your score will be deducted for each 24 hours of lateness (rounded up). For example, if an assignment is worth 80 points, you turn it in 3 days late, and earn a 70 before lateness is taken into account, your score will be (1-0.3)*70=49.

    Your lowest problem set grade will be dropped.

  • Exams

    Exams are non-cumulative, open-book, open-note, and multiple-choice. You can use any physical or electronic book or notes, but you are not allowed to collaborate with other people during the exam. The exams will be administered over Canvas during scheduled class time.

  • Discussion sections

    Discussion sections meet weekly starting 1/11.

    Your grade for participation in discussion sections is determined by attendance. You can miss up to 1 discussion section without penalty.

    We will not hold discussion sections on MLK day or Presidents Day. If that is your section, then you should attend another discussion section that week. If you cannot attend any other discussion section in those weeks, e-mail the TAs for special accommodation.

  • Working together

    You are encouraged to work together with classmates to solve the problem sets, but everyone must turn in their own writeup—do not copy your writeup from someone else.

    Collaboration on exams is not allowed and if you are caught attempting to collaborate on an exam you will automatically receive a score of 0 on that exam.

  • Mapping of class score to letter grade

    I guarantee minimum grades based on these thresholds:

    Threshold Guaranteed minimum grade
    >= 90% A
    >= 80% B
    >= 70% C
    >= 60% D
    < 60% F

    So for example a score of 90.0001% guarantees you an A-. It is unlikely that I will grade the course on a curve, but if I do, you could end up with a higher grade due to the curve.

11 Academic Integrity

We will be adhering fully to the standards and practices set out in UCI's policy on academic integrity. Any attempts of academic misconduct or plagiarism will be met with consequences as per the university regulations.

12 Disability

Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to apply with Disability Service Center at UCI. For more information, please visit

Author: Richard Futrell

Created: 2021-03-01 Mon 07:59