LIGN 101

Introduction to the study of language

Spring 2018

Course Description

This course is an introduction to linguistics, the scientific study of language. It starts by considering the basic nature of human language. Then, it introduces the different components human language is made of and how linguists investigate them. In particular, it looks at the basic building blocks of language: sounds & signs (phonetics, phonology; it looks at the meaning and social use of language (semantics, pragmatics); finally, it looks at how words and sentences are created (morphology, syntax). At the end of the course we will discuss how language is implemented in the brain.

This course has no prerequisites. It is a prerequisite for enrolling in upper-division classes in linguistics and majoring or minoring in linguistics.

Why major in Linguistics?

Have you thought abour enriching your college experience with Study Abroad? Linguistics Study Abroad offers great options, lots of flexibility, a Study Abroad Award, and Global Concentration on your transcripts.

Course Details

Lecture Location: Center Hall, room 222

Time: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 12:00 PM – 12:50 PM

Discussion Section (optional)

Location: Center Hall, room 207

Time: Friday 11:00-11:50 AM

Final Exam

Wednesday 6/13 from 11:30 AM – 2:29 PM, in Center Hall room 222 (same location as lecture)


All information pertaining to the course, except for grades, will be posted on this website. Assignments and readings not found in the textbook will be posted on the website. Grades will be posted on TritonEd. TritonEd will not be used for any other purpose.



Instructor: William Matchin


Office location: Applied Physics & Math Building (APM) 4101

Office hours: Tuesday 12:30-2:00 pm, Friday 2:00-3:00 PM, and by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Andrés Aguilar


Office location: Applied Physics & Math Building (APM) 4432D

Office hours: Monday 11:00-11:50 am

Required textbook: Fromkin, Rodman, Hyams. An Introduction to Language. 9th edition. 2010.

N.B.: We are using the 9th edition, not the 11th edition.

A copy of the textbook is on reserve at the Language Lab (AP&M 3432A).

Learning Objectives

The goal of this course is to provide guidance in learning so that students:

  • Have mastered IPA inventory for English phonetics

  • Develop a basic fundamental understanding of the core domains of formal Linguistic analysis

  • Be able formulate insightful scientific questions regarding language

  • Understand and engage with the basic philosophical problems that arise regarding the nature of language


These skills will be valuable in a wide array of careers, from academia to speech language pathology to the tech industry. More importantly, they should help students to be able to critically assess any complicated system, whether that system is language, society, or otherwise.

Assessment & grading

Homework: 56% (8 homeworks, 7% apiece)

Midterm Exam: 14%

Final Exam: 30%

Homework assignments can be downloaded by clicking on the links in the schedule below (they will also be listed in chronological order on the Homework tab above). They will almost always be due on Mondays, and will be posted on the website by the Wednesday before the assignment is due. Check the schedule below for specific deadlines.


HW is due at the beginning of class on the assigned dates found in the schedule below. HW will be collected at the beginning of class by the TA at the front of the lecture hall. HW may be turned in one class period late with a 50% deduction; no points are possible after this.

All HW assignments will be posted on the course website:


You may brainstorm with your classmates, but everyone has to write up their homework assignments individually. Assignments that are unduly similar will be grounds for scrutiny and academic dishonesty charges.

Graded assignments and the mid-term exam will be returned in class. If you didn't pick them up the day they were returned, e-mail the TA and make arrangements with them to pick them up during the TA's office hours.

The midterm exam will cover all material up to the exam; the final will be comprehensive, covering all material in the class. The exams will not be open book or open note, and are non-collaborative.

Grading Scale

A+        97%                 B+        87%                 C+        77%                 D          60%

A          93%                 B          83%                 C          73%                 F          <60%

A-         90%                 B-         80%                 C-         70%

Extra Credit

You may receive 1 extra credit by participating in a Linguistics, Psychology or Cognitive Science experiment. Participation will boost your final grade by 1% for each credit. Sign up here:

Detailed instructions are here: program/undergraduate-resources/sona/managing-credits.

Do not wait until the last week to participate, there may not be experiments available! The last day to fulfill this requirement is the Wednesday of Week 10, before finals week. Get on it!

If you are opposed to experiment participation, you must request an alternative from Dr. Matchin via email by 5pm on Friday of Week 3 (April 20) at the latest.

Academic Integrity

Please take some time to review the university’s Policy on Integrity of Scholarship ( I will be conducting this course in full accordance with this policy. In particular, any suspected cheating or plagiarism in the course will be taken very seriously and must be reported to UCSD's Office of the Academic Integrity Coordinator, in accordance with UCSD policy. Please note that it is not at my discretion whether or not to report instances of academic dishonesty: I am obligated by UCSD policy to report such instances.


Students found guilty of academic dishonesty will face administrative sanctions imposed by their college Dean of Student Affairs and academic sanctions imposed by me. Academic sanctions can range from an F on the assignment to an F in the class. The appropriate sanctions will be determined by the egregiousness of the Policy violation. Students can also face suspension and dismissal from the University. Students who assist in or are complicit with cheating could also be in violation of the Policy.

© 2017 by William Matchin Personal

  • Twitter Clean Grey