Exploring Linguistic Diversity

Subject 175-305 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2009.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Two 1-hour lectures and a 1-hour tutorial per week. There will be no tutorials in the first or last weeks of semester.
Total Time Commitment: Total of 8.5 hours per week.
Prerequisites: This subject is only available to final year students undertaking a major in Linguistics & Applied Linguistics.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Assoc. Prof Lesley Stirling


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, discourse – 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.
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.
Notes: 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)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Cross Cultural Communication
Linguistics & Applied Linguistics
Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Linguistics and Applied Linguistics

Download PDF version.