SIS code: 

NPFL063 Introduction to Linguistics

2023 Winter


My web
E-mail for homework, etc: (start the email's subject with NPFL063)
Language: English
Office hours: By appointment (via Zoom)
Time Wed 15:40
Place  S8 (we moved from the original S5)

1  Description and objectives of the course

The course will help students to get familiar with the fundamental features of human language, its structure and development, its place in society, etc. It also introduces linguistics as a science, its history, and methodology, with a focus on structural linguistics.

2  Language

The course is taught in English. I will repeat in Czech anything that you don't understand. All course materials (slides, readings, web pages, etc.) are in English. Homework, the final exam, and the paper can be submitted in English, Czech/Slovak.

3  Readings

Readings (when assigned) are to be read before class. Some of the readings will not be covered in class, but homework and exams will assume that you have read them all. 
In most cases, the assigned reading will be from the following (the Library has several copies of the books):

  • Reader (under development; 2020-10-05)
  • V. Fromkin, R. Rodman, N. Hyams: An Introduction to Language. 8th edition or later; preferably the International edition of 8th edition, Heinle, 2006.
  • D. Crystal: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. Cambridge University Press; 1997

4  Assignments, Tests, and Grading

4.1  Homework

In some classes, homework will be assigned. Unless specified otherwise, it will be due by the beginning of the following class. If it is reasonably easy to type it in a text processor, send it by e-mail as an attachment (use PDF, MS Word or plain text). Otherwise, you can email a scan or bring it to class. Please write legibly.

When emailing, use the following subject "NPFL063 HW #", e.g., "NPFL063 HW 1" for the first homework assignment.

You can use English or Czech/Slovak.

It is a good idea to work on homework in a group of two or three people (write who you worked with at the top of the page). However, you have to write it up individually, in your own words. Each homework assignment will be graded on a scale 0-100%. Incorrect answers are better than no answers.

Homework assignment Due
[HW 1 - phonology] Oct 31 (the day before class)
[HW 2 - Trees] Dec 5 (the day before class)
[HW 3 - Imported NP clusters Dec 12 (the day before class)
[HW 4 - Implicature in Ads] Before grade
4.2  Article

You will create a Wikipedia-like article on a selected linguistic topic. Consider writing about something that can be useful for your thesis. You can use English or Czech/Slovak. See this page for more details see.

Milestone Points Due How
Your selected topic for approval 5 Nov 8 email
Half a page summary (can be bullets), 5+ reliable sources 5 Nov 29  Google docs / cloud version of MS Word 365 / plain text by email
Draft version - I will provide feedback 10 Jan 3 Google docs / cloud version of MS Word 365
(give me full edit rights so I can comment and see updates)
Final version 10 10 days before you want a grade Google docs / cloud version of MS Word 365
4.3  Exam

There will be an in-class final exam. You can bring and use any notes or literature, but you have to work on your own.

You can use English or Czech/Slovak. Even mixing the languages is allowed (e.g., using English terminology in Czech sentences). 

4.4  Active class participation

"Active participation" refers to your comments and questions during class, your answers to my questions, etc. I do not keep track of whether your answers, etc. are correct, but simply whether or not you participate. 
If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get reliable notes from a fellow student.

4.5  Grading

You need to submit all homework assignments, the article, and the final to get a zápočet (and a grade).

Homework 0-20
Article 0-30
Final 0-40
Active class participation 0-10
Total: 0-100
Grade Points
1 90-100
2 76-89
3 60-75
4 0-59
4.5  Late submissions

Late submissions are automatically penalized in the following way:

Homework up to one week late 20%
  more than one week late 80%
Article one week late 20%
  more than one week late 50%

However, if you see you cannot meet a deadline, talk to me about it before the deadline, and most likely, we can find a later deadline when you can submit without any penalty.

5  Schedule and Handouts

The schedule below is preliminary and can slightly change. If I update a handout, I will add the date of the update in parentheses.

Date Topic Handout Reading Other
Oct 4 Introduction [slides[handout]    
Oct 11 Animal Communication [handout]    
Oct 18 Phonetics [handout] Fromkin Ch 6  
Oct 25 Phonology [handout] Fromkin Ch 7  
Nov 1 Morphology [handout] [slides] Fromkin Ch 3 HW 1 due (Oct 31)
Nov 8 NO CLASS     paper topic deadline (Nov 8)
Nov 15 Morphology    
Nov 22 Syntax [handout] Fromkin Ch 4  
Nov 29 Syntax 


  paper summary deadline (Nov 29)
Dec 6 Syntax / Linguistic theories [GB slides] [DG slides]   HW 2 due (Dec 5)
Dec 13 Semantics / Pragmatics [handout] 
[handout] [slides]
  HW 3 due (Dec 12)
Dec 20 Historical Linguistics [handout] [slides]  Fromkin Ch 12  
Jan 3 Psycholinguistics [slides]   paper draft deadline (Jan 3)
Jan 10 Exam      

[GB slides] [DG slides]