Exploring Linguistic Diversity

Subject 175-305 (2008)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2008.Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.500
Level: Undergraduate
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2008:

Semester 2, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable


Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 34 hours in total. Consisting of two 1 hour lectures per week and a 1 hour tutorial. There will be no tutorials in the first and last week of semester.
Total Time Commitment: .
Prerequisites: Usually 37.5 points of second/third-year linguistics and applied linguistics subjects including 175014 Phonetics and 175015 Syntax.
Corequisites: .
Recommended Background Knowledge: .
Non Allowed Subjects: .
Core Participation Requirements: .


Prof Nick Evans
Subject Overview:

This subject explores the diversity of the world's languages. It draws on the concepts and methods, that students have acquired in their linguistic studies so far, to tackle a number of fundamental questions in linguistics: How much do languages differ? What descriptive systems and analytic tools do we need if we are to justice to any human language we are interested in learning and understanding? What universals, if any, lie underneath the astounding differences in how languages are organized? How do linguistic systems evolve, and what forces shape the historical changes from one language state to another? We will study these questions across all linguistic subsystems - phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, discourseā€š drawing on case studies from languages around the world. Groups of students will adopt, a language they do not yet know, tracking it through the semester to see how it relates to the questions we will be studying. Where relevant we will illustrate problems through small fieldwork-type studies of languages spoken in Melbourne's polyglot community.

Assessment: Two data-oriented problems 50% (due during the semester) and a final case-study essay or project 50% (due end of semester). The final essay may, by arrangement, be undertaken in groups of up to three.
Prescribed Texts: A package of readings will be available.
Recommended Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • be able to decipher and master communicative systems very different from their own native system;

  • be able to communicate knowledge intelligibly and economically;

  • have highly developed skills in logical analysis and hypothesis-testing.

Links to further information: http://www.unimelb.edu.au/HB/2008/subjects/175-305.html

Previously available as 175-405 Study of a Language Family. Students who have completed 175-405 are not eligible to enrol in this subject.

Related Course(s): Diploma in Arts (English Language)
Graduate Diploma in Arts (Linguistics & Applied Linguistics)

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