LIGN 101 - Introduction to the Study of Language

Will Styler - Winter 2024

Course Information

Language is what makes us human, but how does it work? This course focuses on speech sounds and sound patterns, how words are formed, organized into sentences, and understood, how language changes, and how it is learned.

Teaching Team

Dr. Will Styler - Instructor

Olivia Griffin - Graduate Instructional Assistant

Noah Khaloo - Graduate Instructional Assistant

Jun Jie Lim - Graduate Instructional Assistant

Colin Gazaui - Undergraduate Instructional Assistant

Roxy Le Ong - Undergraduate Instructional Assistant

Section Information

Course Materials

Course Textbook: For students who would like an accompanying textbook, I’ll recommend An Introduction to Language by Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams, as it is the best and clearest introductory text available to the field right now. Different chapters of the book will correspond to our lecture themes pretty straightforwardly, and you can get some additional information by reading them, if you’d like.

Important Note: Given the textbook’s price, this book is optional, and all readings are recommended, but not required, and no exercises from the book will be assigned. The 11th Edition (ISBN: 978-1337559577) is currently in press, however, given the book’s pricing, I highly encourage you to find the book used or in an electronic format, and the 9th and 10th US Editions are perfectly fine as written companions to the course material (ISBN: 978-1-4282-6392-5 (9th) and 9781133310686 (10th)). We will not be using the Cengage ‘Digital Platform’ or any of the add-ons, so please do not buy digital content ‘bundles’ or any such other upsells.

I’m also working with the library to put a few copies on reserve, so you should be able to access it there as well, provided you’re not waiting until the last minute.

Course Schedule

Weeks are listed by the Monday they start on. Although all due-dates are fixed (barring extensive notice), given everything, expect things to change some. Please check this page regularly. Click an individual talk title to see that day’s slides (broken links indicate that slides are not yet posted). You can also add _handout before .html in the slides link to see an autogenerated version formatted for printing and note-taking.

For each week, you’ll have in class learning sessions Tuesday and Thursday, as well as an assigned ‘Discussion Section’ which will allow you to engage directly with the material. All assignments are due on Sundays following the class session at 11:59pm (so Week 1’s ‘Due Sunday’ assignment is due on the Sunday before Week 2, at 11:59pm). In places where Canvas and the Syllabus differ in due dates, the syllabus is the authoritative source!

Week 1 (Jan. 8) - Introducing Language and Dialect

Week 2 (Jan. 15) - Speech

Week 3 (Jan. 22) - Sound Patterns in Language

Week 4 (Jan. 29) - More Phonological Phon

Week 5 (Feb. 5) - Words are Weird

Week 6 (Feb. 12) - Syntax is a life sentence

Week 7 (Feb. 19) - Giving life meaning

Week 8 (Feb. 26) - Meaning in the World

Week 9 (Mar. 4) - Grab Bag

Week 10 (Mar. 11) - Course Outro

Finals Week - Final Exam

Student Resources for Support, Learning, and Interaction

Please see my complete listing of student resources for information on student support (e.g. counseling, crisis centers, resource centers), resources for learning (libraries, writing help, and more), resources for engaging with faculty (e.g. Coffee with a Prof, Letters of recommendation), and technical resources.

Learning Outcomes

As this class is a large survey course, the goal is to build familiarity with facts about languages, terms which reflect your more linguistic understanding of Language, and with analytical techniques and skills like IPA transcription, phonological analysis, and building syntactic constituency trees.

A more granular list of terms, skills, and questions you should be able to answer by the end of the class can be found in the course study guide.

Effort Matters!

In all of my classes, teaching is a collaborative process, and my goal is straightforward: I want to help students who put in strong effort to get a great grade.

So, you will succeed in this class if you…

We will bend over backwards to help students who are sincerely doing their best to succeed in this class, and will always do our best to help students who are trying to recover, even after a rough start. And of course, we’re also always happy to help when documentable circumstances beyond your control come up which prevent you from making your full effort.

That said, if you’re “blowing off” the class, skipping class, starting assignments at the last minute, cutting corners, grade begging, grubbing, or lawyering, or turning in low-effort and low-integrity work, it’s disrespectful to me and the rest of the instructional team. As such, if you make these decisions, you’ll find us much less eager to help, accommodate, recommend, or make policy exceptions for you.

So, we’re on the same team, and we want to help you succeed, but the key is demonstrating strong effort, and we’re going to put as much effort into helping you succeed as you do.

Assessing Learning

Your final grade is based on the below formula, and will be automatically calculated in Canvas:

Item % of Final Grade
Homework Assignments 55%
Final Exam 25%
Section Participation 10%
Class Participation 10%

The grading scale used for this course is the UCSD standard scale, where A+ is 97% or more, A is 96.99% to 93%, A- is 92.99 to 90%, B+ is 89.99 to 87%, and so forth. Plus and Minus grades are not assigned below “C”, and no grade changes will be considered from A to A+. “Pass” is any grade 70% or higher.


Homeworks will be submitted online through Gradescope, and you’ll turn them before Midnight on the designated day(s). These will be designed to test your understanding of the concepts and materials given you, and to go beyond just reciting facts.

We will automatically drop your lowest homework. You will still be responsible for knowing the material covered in any dropped homeworks.

Final Exam

The final exam is meant to assess your learning of the concepts and facts presented in the class. I hope that we will be in person such that this will be an in-class exam, in the normal classroom and will count for a large proportion of your final grade. Exams will be cumulative, covering all material discussed to that point. My exam policies are discussed at

If serious (and documentable) reasons will prevent you from taking an exam on the scheduled date, or if you will require specific accommodations during an exam, you must contact the instructor at least two weeks prior to an exam to request an exception. Students who are unable to attend an exam for documentable good cause reasons will be able to make up the exam via a synchronous oral exam, asking about and discussing material from the class and exam, via Zoom or in person, with the instructor. Details on this process are available here.

OSD Accommodation exams (e.g. 1.5x time, ‘own room’ or ‘reduced distraction environment’) will be handled by the Triton Testing Center. For more details on how this process works, see this site. If you have specific documented needs which you feel are in conflict with this option or testing solution, or have an additional accommodation which you feel requires different testing approach (e.g. exams must be read aloud), please contact me by Week 3 of the quarter.

Class Participation

Interactive polling will be used in this course to make class more interactive, to gauge your understanding, and to help reinforce key concepts. Most lectures will contain some clicker questions, answerable by clicking in. As this is meant for participation (rather than evaluation), in this class, every answer you give, right or wrong, will contribute equally to this grade.

More importantly, as clicking is meant to be participation focused (rather than ‘taking attendance’), and as we want to discourage students from attending class while ill, we will drop half of the total clicker points possible. This means that you can still earn 100% for clicker participation if you miss half of the clicker points (that is, of the total number of clicker points across all the lectures, you can miss up to half). So, if you have a tech issue or miss class, don’t worry about it, and no make-up clicking methods are available without good cause. Note, though, that regular attendance when healthy is a good way to show us effort, and earns our respect, and ‘clicking in’ from home is considered an academic integrity violation. This should be a very easy 10% of your grade to earn.

Please note: I’m dropping half the points out of compassion for students who try to attend every session and can’t, not because you’ll be fine if you skip half the classes. Students who skip class regularly, even when it ‘doesn’t hurt their grade’, usually end up doing poorly in the class More importantly, students who expect us to do extra work to support their skipping class (e.g. ‘excusing’ random days because they’ve skipped a lot of classes, or asking ‘can you calculate my current participation grade so I know how many more classes I can miss’) without documented extenuating circumstances leave a poor impression.

Section Participation

This class features mandatory sections. The purpose of these discussion sections is to work with and reinforce concepts and processes described in Lecture in LIGN 101. As such, the key to success is active participation. As such, you will be awarded a single point of participation grade each day you are present and participating in section. Again, to discourage people from coming to class sick and to avoid having to sort through requests for excused absences, we will drop up to five missed days of section participation.

It is entirely up to the IA’s discretion whether you are awarded your participation grade for a given session. To make sure you’re given full points, you would be wise to…

If you need to change the section you’re attending, please email the IA whose section you’d like to switch into and ask for permission. As they are often limited by room size, their ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is final.

Extra Credit

There are two ways to get extra credit for this class:

Before asking for ‘additional extra credit’ or other course exceptions, please see my page on student requests to get a sense of what kinds of requests are welcome, and which are unlikely to be received well.

Attendance and Modality

It is very important that you attend class and section, and thus, you will not be able to earn all the points in the class without attending class and section, because the work you do in section is important, and it’s better to do work with others and with a TA to help. ‘Hybrid’ options sound great in theory, but add a great deal of technical complexity, disadvantages those stuck at home, and in practice, ‘hybrid’ is the very best way to make the experience worse for two groups of people at once.

That said, in recognition of the variety of issues we face in these Times, I am giving exceptional flexibility and amounts of ‘dropped’ missed class.

I am also willing to work with students for whom the attendance requirement is particularly difficult due documentable circumstances outside of your control (this means things like medical problems, family tragedies, housing issues, or other documentable serious ‘good cause’ issues, rather than overlapping courses or scheduling conflicts). Please reach out to Will ASAP if you’d like to request such accommodations.

Remote Instruction Preparedness

In the event of a mandatory pivot to remote learning whether generally, or in our course specifically, you will receive a formal notification codifying any changes which need to be made, and this syllabus will be updated. Changes made may include:

Although I reserve the right to make additional changes as the circumstances merit, I do not anticipate that the overall course schedule, assignment/exam due dates, nor final grade calculation will change.

Course Policies

Masking, Illness and participation

The use of a campus-policy-approved face mask covering your mouth and nose is optional in this class, per current university guidance. Although I will teach unmasked for speech perception and accessibility, students are very welcome to continue wearing a mask in the classroom, and their choice to do so should be respected. If you do, please make an effort to talk more loudly, given the difficulties of masked speech.

If you or somebody in your life feels sick, shows signs of illness, or is diagnosed with COVID or another communicable illness, DO NOT attend class, section, or in-person office hours until you have been tested and cleared. Policies above dictate that you can miss massive amounts of class without penalty or documentation, so when in doubt, stay home.

I will not ‘respect you for powering through’, I will be disappointed that you’ve endangered the class, so please, don’t hesitate to use those days off (although you will still be responsible for understanding and reviewing the work on your own).

Asking Questions and Student Hours

You are highly encouraged to join student hours (often known as ‘office hours’) or help sessions to ask content questions, ask for clarifications about assignments, to ask for more information on a subject that interests you, or to get help on homeworks. Helping you learn this material is quite literally our job, so having students in office hours is no inconvenience.

Do not email us course content or homework questions! If you have a question about course material, post it on Canvas, such that everybody can benefit from the answers (because chances are, they’re struggling in the same places). Adminstrative questions (or questions you’d like to discuss in private) should still be sent to the instructor via email.

Re-grading policy

If you feel that a grade has been assigned in error you should submit a regrade request via Gradescope in an e-mail to the Instructor ( ccing your TAs.

This means that you’ll want to look over every assignment as soon as it’s given back, so that any possible errors can be addressed, and so that you’ll learn from any mistakes.

Academic Integrity

Although you’re welcome to form study groups to discuss questions and help each other out with understanding the material, you should be the only person working on your copy of your assignment, and every answer should reflect your own learning and work. Please, don’t be a cheater, for your sake and ours, and refer to the UCSD policy below for more information. Remember, you can always retake a failed class, but you can’t make an academic integrity violation disappear.

Respectful Discussion Policy

Examining language and languages inevitably leads to discussions of gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, politics, nationality, etc. Opinions are welcome, but all students must be mindful and respectful of others in the class. Speak with others using respectful and kind language, just as you’d like them to do with you, and focus your discussion on the ideas, rather than individuals. Finally, remember that as we discuss and evaluate our conversations, the focus will be on the impact on an individual or group, not the intention or motivation of the actor.

Special accommodations Policy

All requests for special accommodations must be brought to the instructor in the first two weeks of class, ideally sooner. This includes things like religious holidays, university-sponsored events, athletic schedules, conflicts with exam dates, and OSD accommodations. Because running a big course is quite complex, if I don’t find out about it in the first two weeks, I may not be able to help.

Late Add Policy

Students adding the course after the course has begun will be held to the same standards as their classmates, and graded according to the same scale. In addition to being responsible for knowing material from past assignments and sessions, the following policies apply:

If you’ve joined sufficiently late as to wind up with zeroes even after the dropped assignments, contact the instructor ASAP to formulate a plan to make up the work you’ve missed.

Other Course Policies


Thank you very much to Ivano Caponigro and Jelena Krivokapic, for the materials upon which some elements of this class were originally based. We also respectfully acknowledge that we live, learn, and work on the land of the Kumeyaay/Kumiai nation. Whose land are you on?

UCSD Academic Policies


Students requesting accommodations for this course due to a disability must provide a current Authorization for Accommodation (AFA) letter issued by the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) which is located in University Center 202 behind Center Hall. Students are required to present their AFA letters to Faculty (please make arrangements to contact me privately) and to the OSD Liaison in the department in advance so that accommodations may be arranged.

Contact the OSD for further information - | 858.534.4382

Academic Integrity

Each student in this course is expected to abide by the UC San Diego Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and to excel with integrity. Any work submitted by a student in this course for academic credit will be the student’s own work.

Academic dishonesty (actions like cheating, plagiarism, aid of academic dishonesty, fabrication, lying, blackmail, bribery, and threatening behavior) will generally result in poor recall and learning of the material, and aren’t acceptable at UCSD. In cases of academic dishonesty, possible in-class academic sanctions can include anything from a zero on the assignment/test/project in question, to a blanket lowering of your final grade by X%, to an assigned and non-negotiable grade of “F” in the course. These sanctions are assigned at the sole discretion of the instructor, and as every case is unique, additional sanctions not listed above may apply. But again, remember that doing the assignments honestly is a part of the learning process, and failure to do so will hurt you more than anybody else.

Classroom Behavior Policy

UCSD Student Conduct Code

UCSD Principles of Community

Religious Accomodation

It is the policy of the university to make reasonable efforts to accommodate students having bona fide religious conflicts with scheduled examinations by providing alternative times or methods to take such examinations. If a student anticipates that a scheduled examination will occur at a time at which his or her religious beliefs prohibit participation in the examination, the student must submit to the instructor a statement describing the nature of the religious conflict and specifying the days and times of conflict.

For final examinations, the statement must be submitted no later than the end of the second week of instruction of the quarter. For all other examinations, the statement must be submitted to the instructor as soon as possible after a particular examination date is scheduled.

If a conflict with the student’s religious beliefs does exist, the instructor will attempt to provide an alternative, equitable examination that does not create undue hardship for the instructor or for the other students in the class.

Discrimination and Harrassment

The University of California, in accordance with applicable federal and state laws and university policies, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy (including pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth), physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, or service in the uniformed services (including membership, application for membership, performance of service, application for service, or obligation for service in the uniformed services). The university also prohibits harassment based on these protected categories, including sexual harassment, as well as sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. The nondiscrimination policy covers admission, access, and treatment in university programs and activities.

If students have questions about student-related nondiscrimination policies or concerns about possible discrimination or harassment, they should contact the Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination (OPHD) at (858) 534- 8298,, or

Campus policies provide for a prompt and effective response to student complaints. This response may include alternative resolution procedures or formal investigation. Students will be informed about complaint resolution options.

A student who chooses not to report may still contact CARE at the Sexual Assault Resource Center for more information, emotional support, individual and group counseling, and/or assistance with obtaining a medical exam. For off-campus support services, a student may contact the Center for Community Solutions. Other confidential resources on campus include Counseling and Psychological Services, Office of the Ombuds, and Student Health Services.

CARE at the Sexual Assault Resource Center - 858.534.5793 or Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) - 858.534.3755