1. Linguistic universals and language variation
2. On the nature of linguistic change
3. The concept of linguistic distance
4. Accent and linguistic identity
5. Stylistic variation and language change
This course covers the basics of the linguistic disciplines that deal with variation and change.
The main aims are
To foster an awareness of the causes and parameters of variation in languages, and of the value of studying variation for the development of linguistic theory.
To introduce the key concepts, methodologies and theories in describing linguistic variation and language change and to provide experience of the kinds of argumentation employed in interpreting empirical data.
To promote basic independent research in all aspects of language variation and change: Identify and frame a research question in the context of relevant literature and present data as evidence in support of a theoretical argument.
By the end of the course, you should be able to:
Formulate linguistically informed hypotheses and test them
Detect universal principles among diverse languages and dialects
Give simple accounts for a range of puzzling language facts
Have fun learning about human languages and linguistic theory
All reading assignments and videos are available online. There is no textbook.