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EL1101E/GEK1101: The Nature of Language (Sem 1, AY1617) Syllabus

Department of English Language and Literature

Semester 1, 2016/2017

Module Code and Title: EL1101E/GEK1011 The Nature of Language

Module Lecturer
Name: Dr. Rebecca Starr
Twitter: @NUSLinguistics
Office: AS5, 05-30
Office hours: Thurs 10AM - 12PM, or by appt

Dr. Nala Huiying Lee
Email: Ms. Nina Venkataraman
Office: AS5, 05-21 Email:
Office hours: Wed 2PM-4PM, or by appt
Ms. Sun Ke
Ms. Anne Nguyen Thi Thuy Nguyen Email:
Ms. Wei Shuang
Ms. Lauren Yeo Rei-Chi Email:

Brief Module Description

This introductory overview of linguistics aims at equipping students with a solid foundation in the object,
methods and goals of the science of spoken language, the prime tool of human communication.
Through a principled analysis of patterns of sound, form and meaning at the levels of word, sentence
and text, students will gain insight into what it means to say that language is a rule-governed system and
an organic whole. The results of this exploration will be useful to those interested in the relationship
between language and mind, society and culture.

Aims and Objectives

EL1101E aims to develop both conceptual knowledge and key abilities as a foundation for systematic
inquiry into the structure and use of language.

Conceptual knowledge: includes a partial description of sound, word, sentence, and text patterns in
English, and the principles governing their structure and use.

Key Abilities: include the ability to observe patterns of language phenomena, explain the observed
patterns, and critically evaluate alternative explanations by building arguments for/against particular

EL1101E/GEK1101: The Nature of Language (Sem 1, AY1617) Syllabus

Class participation: 20% (tutorial attendance: 10%, tutorial presentation: 10%)
Group Project: 20%
Midterm exam (closed book): 30%
Final Exam (closed-book): 30%

Modular Credits: 4

Lecture: 2 hrs per week
Tutorial: 1 hr per week
Group Project: 3 hrs per week
Preparatory work: 4 hrs per week

Exempted from NUS Qualifying English Test, or passed NUS Qualifying English Test, or exempted from
further CELC Remedial English modules.

PDFs and links to readings will be posted on IVLE.
See details of readings in schedule and reading list below.
There is no compulsory textbook for this module. However, for those who would like
a comprehensive textbook (with extra practices), the recommended book is: The
Language Files, 11th edition (2011) Ohio University Press. (Copies are available on reserve at the

Use of IVLE
Lecture slides will be posted to IVLE shortly before class time.
Problem sets for the following week will be posted to IVLE following the lecture each
Required and supplemental readings will be posted as pdfs on IVLE.

Tutorials begin on Week 3. Note that there is no tutorial on Week 9 (midterm exam week).
Tutorials will cover material from the previous weeks lecture, as indicated on the schedule.
Attendance will be taken at all tutorials attendance comprises half of participation grade.
Each week, starting on Week 5, a student group will present their solutions to the problem set.
Marks for the presentation will constitute your participation grade.

Group Project
There will be one major group project for this module, assigned on Week 6 and due
on Week 11.
The same student groups as the tutorial groups will be used to complete the project.
More information about the project will be given when the project is assigned.

EL1101E/GEK1101: The Nature of Language (Sem 1, AY1617) Syllabus

There will be a closed-book midterm (11 Oct) and final exam (28 Nov).
The final exam will cover the entire semester.

Email Announcements
Important module announcements will be distributed via IVLE to student email. These
announcements will include information about exams, extra materials, etc.
Please do check your school email regularly to avoid missing out on key information.


Week Date Topic Reading Tutorial Topic Problem Set

1 9 Aug (no lecture, national day) -- -- --
2 16 Aug Introduction to Linguistics Cruz-Ferreira -- --
Abraham (2011)
Ch. 1.
3 23 Aug Phonetics I: introduction to Russell Features of --
phonetics, consonants (2005) language
4 30 Aug Phonetics II: vowels and stress Russell Phonetics I PS 1 (no
(2005) presentation)
5 6 Sep Phonology: sound patterns Language Phonetics II PS 2
Files (2011) Ch.
6 13 Sep Morphology: morphemes and words Rowe & Levine, Phonology PS 3
(2012) Ch.4.
recess -- -- -- -- --
7 27 Sep Syntax I: constituents, phrase Fromkin et al. Morphology PS 4
structure (2014) Ch. 3, pp
8 4 Oct Syntax II: sentence structure The Language Syntax I PS 5
Files (2011) Ch.
9 11 Oct Midterm exam -- -- --
10 18 Oct Semantics: meaning of words and OGrady (2009) Syntax II PS 6
sentences Ch. 6.1.
11 25 Oct Pragmatics: speech acts, Parker & Riley Semantics PS 7
conversational implicature, (2010) Ch. 2.
politeness theory (GROUP PROJECT
12 1 Nov Sociolinguistics: language variation, McGregor Pragmatics PS 8
contact (2009) Ch. 7.
13 8 Nov Psycholinguistics: acquisition, Merrison et al. Sociolinguistics PS 9
language in the brain, language and (2014) Ch. 14,
thought 15.1-15.5

EL1101E/GEK1101: The Nature of Language (Sem 1, AY1617) Syllabus

Reading List
(check IVLE for pdfs and links)

WEEK 2: Cruz-Ferreira, Madalena & Abraham, Sunita Anne. 2011. Chapter 1: Language and linguistics.
In The Language of Language. pp. 1 24.

WEEK 3: Russell, Kevin. 2005. Describing consonants. URL:

WEEK 4: Russell, Kevin. 2005. Describing vowels. URL:

WEEK 5: Language Files. 2011. File 3.1 File 3.3. In The Language Files: Materials for an introduction to
language and linguistics 11th ed, Vedrana Mihalicek & Christin Wilson (eds.). Ohio: Ohio State University
Press. pp. 103-123.

WEEK 6: Rowe, Bruce M. & Levine, Diane P. 2012. Chapter 4: The morphological component. In A
Concise Introduction to Linguistics 3rd ed. New York: Routledge. pp. 89 114.

WEEK 7: Fromkin, Victoria, Rodman, Robert, & Hyams, Nina. 2014. Chapter 3: Syntax: The sentence
patterns of language. In An Introduction to Language 10th ed. New York: Wadsworth. pp. 76 87.

WEEK 8: Language Files. 2011. File 5.4 File 5.5. In The Language Files: Materials for an introduction to
language and linguistics 11th ed, Vedrana Mihalicek & Christin Wilson (eds.). Ohio: Ohio State University
Press. pp. 103-123. pp. 215 229.

WEEK 10: OGrady, William. 2009. 6.1: The Nature of Meaning. In Contemporary Linguistic Analysis 7th
ed, William OGrady & John Archibald (eds.) Onatrio: Pearson Education Canada. pp. 190-199.

WEEK 11: Parker, Frank & Riley, Kathryn. 2010. Chapter 2: Pragmatics. In Linguistics for Non-Linguists
5th ed. Boston: Pearson. pp. 4 25.

WEEK 12: McGregor, William B. Chapter 7: Sociolinguistics. In Linguistics: An introduction. London:

Bloomsbury. pp. 155 178.

WEEK 13: Merrison, Andrew John, Bloomer, Aileen, Griffiths, Patrick, & Hall, Christopher J. 2014.
Chapter 14: Psycholinguisticsand 15.1 to 15.5 in Chapter 15: Language acquisition. In Introducing
Language in Use. pp. 332 348, 349 363.