General information

Course type AMUPIE
Module title Introduction To Linguistics
Language English
Module lecturer dr Anna Jelec
Lecturer's email
Lecturer position assistant professor
Faculty Faculty of English
Semester 2022/2023 (winter)
Duration 30
USOS code 15-WDJ-AMU-PIE-11


Mondays 3 PM - 4:30 PM

room: Aula

building: Collegium Heliodori, ul. Grunwaldzka 6

Module aim (aims)

The lecture "Introduction to Linguistics" introduces the basics of linguistics, understood as the science of language. We will discuss the most important schools and research directions such as neurolinguistics, historical, and cognitive linguistics; take a look at famous experiments; and discuss trends and innovations in the study of writing and speech. The course ends with an exam. 

Pre-requisites in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences (where relevant)

B2 level English 


  1. Introduction to linguistics:
    • definition, structure and function of language
    • definition of linguistics
    • aims of linguistics
    • language as an automated process - Stroop test
    • language as a process of learning rules - the Wug
    • areas of language research
    • sciences related to linguistics
  2.  Origin of language:
    • animal communication (examples)
    • theories on the emergence of language
    • onomatopoeia
    • features of human language (design features)
    • historical linguistics - definition
  3. Language and the brain:
    • language areas in the brain - Broca's area, Wernicke's area
    • the case of Phineas Gage
    • lateralization - what is it, what does it have to do with language and handedness
    • Hebb's law - learning and neurons
    • speech and language disorders - aphasia
    • how language affects the brain
    • neurolinguistics - definition
  4. Semiotics
    • semiotics - definition
    • de Saussure sign theory (signifier / signified)
    • language as a system of arbitrary signs,
    • semiotic triangle
    • Jakobson's language model and communication functions 
    • tertium comptarationis
    • paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations
  5. Semantics
    • semantics - definition
    • lexical semantics - definition
    • semantic fields
    • componential analysis
    • Rosch's prototype theory
    • category membership by Labov - cup or bowl experiment
    • Natural Semantic Metalanguage by Wierzbicka
    • semantic universals
    • semantic relations
  6. Phonetics & Phonology
    • phonetics and phonology - definition, differences
    • articulators by Ladefoged
    • how many sounds are in world languages
    • what is a vowel, types of vowels
    • what is a consonant, types of consonants
    • consonants vs. vowel
    • whisper
    • suprasegmentals
    • what is a tonal language
    • ingressive and eggressive sounds
  7. Morphology and word formation
    • morphology - definition
    • Schleicher's fable
    • word vs. morpheme
    • afix, infix, suffix
    • free and bound morpheme
    • how to make a basic morphological tree
    • cognates and word families
    • word formation
  8. Syntax
    • syntax - definition
    • history of grammar studies
    • structuralism (signifier and signified, relations) by DeSaussure
    • generative grammar (LAD, x-bar) according to Chomsky
    • generative semantics according to Lakoff
    • deep structure and surface structure
    • linguistic wars
    • construction grammar according to Goldberg
    • parts of speech vs. parts of sentence
  9. Pragmatics and Gesture Studies
    • deixis
    • definition of pragmatics
    • context and language
    • presupposition
    • implicature,
    • speech acts
    • 'face' theory,
    • linguistic politeness and impoliteness
    • Grice's maxims
    • gesture definition
    • gesture functions
    • Kendon's continuum
  10. Sociolinguistics:
    • geographical and social varieties of language
    • language, dialect, accent
    • idiolect
    • pidgin 
    • creole
    • language standard
    • prescriptivism and descriptivism
  11. Writing:
    • definition of writing
    • writing as a secondary means of communication
    • writing as a learned skill (vs. acquired speech)
    • writing as a graphic form of communication (pictograms, ideograms, letters)
    • evolution of writing
    • writing as a source of knowledge about language change
    • meaning-based vs. sound-based writing systems (alphabet, syllabary, abjad)
    • grammar of writing (sentence) vs. grammar of speech (utterance) by Cienki
  12. Linguistic relativity
    • Principle of Linguistic Relativity (Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis)
    • Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis - strong and weak version
    • linguistic determinism and relativism 
    • linguistic relativity and translation 
    • language and spatial orientation - Kuuk Thaayorre study by Boroditsky 
    • language and time - shape of time study by Casasanto, time progression study by Gaby and Boroditsky
    • language and numbers - numberless languages
    • language and colour perception - Russiian goluboy / siniy vs. English blue 
    • arguments against linguistic relativity 

Reading list

Aitchison, J. 2010. Aitchison's Linguistics: A practical introduction to contemporary linguistics. Hachette UK.

O’Grady, William et al. 2003. Contemporary linguistics. An introduction. London: Longman.

Turner, Mark. The literary mind: The origins of thought and language. Oxford University Press, 1996.

Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. 2008. Metaphors we live by. University of Chicago press.

Aronoff, Mark and Janie Rees-Miller (eds.) 2000. The handbook of linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell.

Crystal, David. 1995. The Cambridge encyclopedia of the English language. Cambridge: CUP.

Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk, Barbara (ed.) 1988. Ways to language. Łódź: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego.

Lyons, John. 1982. Language and linguistics. Cambridge: CUP.