Universiteit Leiden
Miracles of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics
Universiteit Leiden

Miracles of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics

Taught in English

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201,623 already enrolled

Course

Gain insight into a topic and learn the fundamentals

Marc van Oostendorp

Instructor: Marc van Oostendorp

4.7

(2,370 reviews)

Beginner level
No prior experience required
23 hours to complete
3 weeks at 7 hours a week
Flexible schedule
Learn at your own pace

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Assessments

7 quizzes

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There are 6 modules in this course

In this first week, we will try to determine what makes language human: why do (almost) all human beings have a language, and what makes human language different from animal communication systems? We will furthermore discuss the many different places where linguists work, and the many different methodologies that they use for conducting their research. You will moreover get to know all the other participants in this MOOC: my students Inge and Marten, as well as the speakers of six different languages. Finally, don't forget to watch our first expert interview: Marten and Inge have talked with Dr. Victoria Nyst of Leiden University, who has enlightened us in the fascinating world of sign languages! For the assignments with the support of Ethnologue, please make sure to study the instructions listed in 'required and optional readings' of this module.

What's included

15 videos6 readings1 quiz5 discussion prompts1 plugin

In this module we will delve into what appear to be the smallest building blocks of spoken language: 'sounds'. As we will see however, all is not what it seems, as we will in fact encounter an even smaller building block of language, a true atom. Another interesting thing about this module is that as of this week our 6 informants will all only speak their own language. Naturally, there is also an interview with my very special friend Prof. dr. Claartje Levelt, whom I have announced before.

What's included

13 videos1 reading1 quiz1 discussion prompt

In this module we will discuss words and sentences. All languages have them; but as I will illustrate, they can be organized in very different ways in different languages. I will furthermore demonstrate what cupcakes have in common with words in a sentence. This module's interview is with one of the most cited and re-knowned linguists alive, Prof. Noam Chomsky! Finally, our 6 language informants will provide us with information about the word order in their languages.

What's included

14 videos1 reading1 quiz1 peer review2 discussion prompts

This module deals with a topic which many of you find very interesting: meaning. How do we determine what a word means? To what extent does our language influence our thinking? How can we change the world with language? As usual, we also have an additional interview with an expert of the current module's theme: in this module Barend Beekhuizen talks to Inge and Marten about his work as a Leiden PhD student in computational linguistics.

What's included

13 videos2 readings1 quiz2 discussion prompts

This module features all of the well-known parts of the current MOOC. Informants tell us about speech errors in their native tongue, I discuss everyday mistakes with my students Marten and Inge, and we have an interview with Prof. Niels Schiller of Leiden University. He discusses with us his own research among others. We moreover go on a little outing, to see linguists in their natural habitat! Furthermore, thanks to our friends at 'Babel, -The Language Magazine' we have some interesting reading for you. For example, linguist Jörg Schwyter tells us all about how he had to deal with aphasia, and how that has influenced him as a multilingual speaker.

What's included

11 videos2 readings1 quiz2 discussion prompts

In the previous modules we have dissected the structure of languages, but now we will study language in its real context: how does language change? How do people use language to be polite? Our informants are demonstrating their acting skills, and furthermore we have an interview with Prof. Adele Goldberg! She presents us with an alternative view of language, compared to the one as previously discussed by Prof. Chomsky in the third module.

What's included

13 videos1 reading2 quizzes1 peer review2 discussion prompts

Instructor

Instructor ratings
4.8 (542 ratings)
Marc van Oostendorp
Universiteit Leiden
1 Course201,623 learners

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