Language Science 3: Introduction to Linguistics

1. Course Information

Lecture MWF 2-2:50pm, HIB 100 (also available asynchronously)
Canvas site

2. Instructor Information

Instructor Richard Futrell (
Office hours T 3pm
Office SSPB 2215

3. TA Information

TA Emily Heydon Jiaxuan Li Charles Torres Weijie Xu
Office hours W 6pm R 4pm M 4pm M 4pm
Office hours location Zoom SSPB 2239 SSPB 2229 SSPB 2239

4. Section information (starting week of 1/17)

Time TA Location
M 11am Charles Torres SSTR 100
M 3pm Weijie Xu ALP 3600
M 3pm Charles Torres Zoom
W 1pm Jiaxuan Li SSTR 100
W 4pm Emily Heydon Zoom
W 5pm Emily Heydon Zoom
R 11am Weijie Xu ALP 2200
R 5pm Jiaxuan Li SSPA 1170

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 in person, and also available asynchronously online as Youtube videos, linked from this page and from Canvas.

Attendance at in-person lectures is optional; the YouTube lectures have all the information you need to perform optimally on the exams. In-person lectures will cover the same material as the YouTube videos, but in more detail and at an accelerated pace, with the opportunity for you to ask questions.

Discussion sections are synchronous and attendance is required in order to receive full credit. Some are on Zoom, some are physical. 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.

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 1/9 Introduction LF 1.1  
W 1/11 Basics LF 1.2-1.4  
F 1/13 Phonetics I LF 2.1-2.2  
M 1/16 MLK day    
W 1/18 Phonetics II LF 2.3  
F 1/20 Phonetics III LF 2.4-2.5  
M 1/23 Phonology I LF 3.1-3.2 Problem set 1 due
W 1/25 Phonology II LF 3.3, 3.5  
F 1/27 Phonology III    
M 1/30 Phonology IV LF 3.4 Problem set 2 due
W 2/1 Morphology I LF 4.1-4.2  
F 2/3 Exam 1    
M 2/6 Morphology II LF 4.5  
W 2/8 Morphology III LF 4.3  
F 2/10 Syntax I LF 5.1-5.2 Problem set 3 due
M 2/13 Syntax II LF 5.3-5.4  
W 2/15 Syntax III LF 5.5  
F 2/17 Syntax IV   Problem set 4 due
M 2/20 President's Day    
W 2/22 Exam 2    
F 2/24 Semantics I LF 6.1-6.2  
M 2/27 Semantics II LF 6.3-6.4  
W 3/1 Pragmatics I LF 7.1-7.2 Problem set 5 due
F 3/3 Pragmatics II LF 7.3, 7.4  
M 3/6 Language and society I LF 10.1-10.3  
W 3/8 Language and society II LF 10.4-10.5 Problem set 6 due
F 3/10 Language and thought I LF 11.2  
M 3/13 Language and thought II    
W 3/15 Writing systems LF 15.1-15.3  
F 3/18 Human Language Technologies LF 16.3-16.5 Problem set 7 due
F 3/24 Exam 3, 1:30-3:30pm    

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.

    Problem sets can be turned in up to 10 days late; 10% of your score will be deducted for each 24 hours of lateness (rounded up). For example, if an assignment is worth 100 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 or access the internet during the exam. The exams will be administered over Canvas during scheduled class time.

    Exam 1 covers Basics, Phonetics, and Phonology.

    Exam 2 covers Morphology and Syntax.

    Exam 3 covers Semantics, Pragmatics, Language and Society, Language and Thought, Writing Sytems, and Human Language Technologies.

  • Discussion sections

    Discussion sections meet weekly starting 1/18.

    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. Unless otherwise announced, if that is your section, then you should attend another discussion section that week, and 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.

    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, then you could end up with a higher grade due to the curve.

11. Pandemic information

When physically present in a classroom, other instructional space, or any other space owned or controlled by UCI, all students and all employees (faculty and staff) must comply with COVID-19 related UCI executive directives and guidance. This guidance takes into account federal, state, and local guidelines and is available at

12. 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.

13. 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: 2023-02-07 Tue 13:55