LaTeX resources

I have been developing various resources to help students figure out how to use LaTeX for the purposes that we use it for in Pomona Linguistics and Cognitive Science.

Course descriptions

Introduction to Linguistics (LGCS 10) Provides a basic introduction to the core fields of linguistics, demonstrating for students the basic structure that underlies language, including sound, grammar, meaning, and social structures of language. The course serves dual purposes: to expose students to the basic structures of language, and to relate the study of language to broader intellectual problems regarding human nature, cognitive science, social organization and social norms.

Syntax (LGCS 105) Examines the sentence structure of natural language, addressing the (mostly unconscious) knowledge that a native speaker has of the structure of their own language. Explains, among other things, why you can run up a bill, and run up a hill, but while you can run a bill up, you can’t run a hill up. Likewise, when a secret is revealed the cat is out of the bag. When it appears that the secret is out, the cat seems to be out of the bag, but when the secret needs to be revealed, it’s not the case that the cat hopes to be out of the bag. This course addresses these and many other puzzles about human language, serving as an introduction to generative syntactic theory that proposes a cognitive structure of language in the mind. The course emphasizes syntactic description and argumentation, with a writing-centric curriculum.

Morphosyntax (LGCS 118) Human languages display an impressively diverse range of grammatical structures, from obvious differences in fundamental patterns of word order to very nuanced distinctions in a wide range of morphosyntactic constructions, such as: agreement patterns, case-marking patterns, morphological representation of the participants in an event, noun classification systems, voice (e.g. active, middle, passive, anti-passive), expression of tense, whether word order is rigid or flexible, and even the expression of sociolinguistic/discourse phenomena like politeness or reliability of evidence in grammaticalized forms. This course does not focus on syntactic theory, but instead introduces students to the wide range of grammatical structures that are possible in human language. The course includes overview readings and discussions of broadly attested morphosyntactic patterns. In addition, students will research an individual (unfamiliar) language over the course of a semester (based on existing research on the language) and will present the structures of their chosen language back to the class on a regular basis in both written and oral form.

Linguistic Field Methods (LGCS 125) A hands-on course designed to teach students how to learn the linguistic structure of a language that they have never been exposed to before. Most in-class meetings consist of interviews with a native speaker of an understudied language, and students meet in small groups with the speaker outside of class as well. It is a writing-centric course where students compose regular reports on their research documenting the structure of the language which they have discovered.

Topics in Syntax (LGCS 183) An advanced course in the syntax of natural language, focused on current developments in the Minimalist Program, the current (mainstream) generative model for syntactic theory. The course varies in topic from year to year, usually pairing a theoretical focus with a relevant empirical focus. The course in Fall 2011 addressed major issues focused on the syntax of Bantu languages, dealing mainly with the theoretical topics of Case and Agreement. Fall 2012 focused on the properties of subjects, focusing on ergative-absolutive case systems and languages with non-initial subjects, including VSO and VOS languages, focusing particularly on Austronesian and Mayan languages. Fall 2020 will focus on object marking constructions in Bantu languages.

Investigating Child Language (Topics course: LGCS 186) This course is a research seminar investigating a particular theory of children’s acquisition of syntactic structures. The first half of the course will consist of an introduction to language acquisition, an introduction to Tomasello’s Construction Grammar (a theory of the child acquisition of syntax), and an introduction to Chomsky’s Minimalist Program (a theory of adult language syntax). The second half of the course will introduce a new theory that offers an acquisition-based explanation for some core properties of adult syntax. We will read and discuss these new proposals, consider predictions of these proposals, and students will test those predictions using already existing child language data (CHILDES). The expectation is that students will have some background in relevant issues so that everything is not entirely new, and as such a variety of prerequisites are included (with the expectation that students will have taken at least one). But it is unlikely that any student will have background in all the areas that the course covers. Students ought not be deterred if they don’t have exposure in some areas that the course touches on: all necessary background will be provided during the course through readings and lectures, including technical skills for using the CHILDES corpora.

In development: Semantics and Pragmatics (LGCS 106) Language users manage to communicate complex thoughts and ideas within rapidly changing and evolving contexts, often with incredible ease. How are we able to locate linguistic meanings in such rich and elusive contexts? What is the relationship between the meaning of a word or expression and its linguistic form? What are the rules or processes that determine how more complex meanings are created from their parts, and how do these processes relate to other cognitive or mental processes? This course introduces both theoretical and practical tools to build an abstract theory of linguistic meaning that addresses these questions, among others.