Quantitative Analysis of Language Data with R

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In this class, students learn the basics of analyzing language data using the programming language R. With a special focus on the Tidyverse, we examine data scraping, wrangling, and tidying along with visualization creation and statistical testing.

Language & Embodiment in Human-Computer Interaction

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Language and embodiment are playing an increasingly critical role in our everyday interactions with computers. We have speech recognition interfaces on our phones and in our homes, such as Siri and Alexa, and we have devices and wearables that track our nuanced gestures, from the Fitbit to the wearable Levi jacket.

With this increase in functionality and daily integration comes a wide range of questions with regard to language, embodiment, and human-computer interaction, most of which remain largely unanswered. For example, does our language reveal our underlying thoughts and perceptions of human-like interfaces like Siri and Alexa? To what extent do such interfaces influence our language, cognition, and behavior?

Language & the Mind

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This course is an introduction to the cognitive dimensions of language. It focuses on the ways people use linguistic structures to produce and construe meaning by providing an outline of the central concepts of Cognitive Linguistics (CL). CL describes linguistic patterns on the basis of general cognitive processes of knowledge formation; it thus offers an interesting model of how our use of words and syntactic patterns are derived from basic experiences and concepts. The course sketches various areas of CL, such as language acquisition, cognitive semantics and pragmatics, and linguistic relativity.

Metaphor & Mind

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Cognitive scientists have shown that human cognition is grounded, meaning that processing abstract linguistic forms involves the recruitment of sensorimotor faculties. In some cases, this recruitment is necessary to understand abstract concepts like Time, Understanding, and Similarity. This class explores grounded cognition and the extent to which abstract thought is metaphorical in nature.

Languages of the World

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Ethnologue claims that there are 7,097 known living languages on the planet. Think about that. It’s a staggering number. How many do you know of? How many language families do you know of? This class explores the phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic differences across the languages of the world.

English in its Social Contexts

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This course is an introduction to sociolinguistic principles and methodologies and provides exemplary case studies. The course involves the reading and understanding of key texts, practical work on samples of language data, devising a project proposal, collecting and analyzing data, and writing up a report. With the integration of these components we model a way to approach investigations into language that are founded on theoretical principles and conducted through specific methodologies. Thus we can arrive at insights into the role that language plays in society and the influence of society on language. The sociolinguistic topics that we cover in the course can be broken down into three broad areas: variation, interaction and varieties of English.

Language in U.S. Society

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Though often viewed as monolingual and monotone from coast to coast, there is an incredible amount of variation in linguistic varieties in the U.S. This class examines many different issues: regionalisms like pop vs. soda, social variation, the Western Vowel Shift, and accent discrimination.