Introduction to General Linguistics

Grinnell College

LIN 114 · Spring, 2017

Assigned Exercises

Class News



Web-based IPA character picker

The International Phonetic Association is the scholarly organization that tries to describe and/or prescribe the symbols and diacritics used in phonetic transcriptions and promotes the scientific study of phonetics in other ways as well. They make several different versions of their chart of symbols available at their Web site. The one that I'd recommend for your use in this course includes all of the symbols we've seen in describing English phonetics and many others that cover a wide variety of languages (though not by any means all of them).

Encrypting Mail

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has created a Web site called “Surveillance Self-Defense: Tips, Tools and How-tos for Safer Online Communications.” Encrypting e-mail is one of the topics for which they provide detailed tutorials. The mechanics are somewhat different depending on which operating system is on the computer where you send and receive e-mail:

If you're interested in experimenting with PGP encryption, I'll be happy to answer questions about it and to respond to any test messages that you send.

PGP (“Pretty Good Privacy”) is an asymmetric “public-key” system. The sender of a message uses the intended recipient's public key to encrypt the message, and the recipient uses her private key to decrypt it. To send me a message, then, you'll need my public key; if the link doesn't work, you can also search for it and download it from the public keyserver at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or from many other keyservers that have copied it. To reply to your message, I'll need your public key. You can either send it to me as part of a message or post it somewhere I can find it.

Short Syllabus

Linguistics is the science of language. This introductory course deals with the basic concepts, distinctions, and methods that linguists apply in describing linguistic phenomena and with the theories that organize and explain their observations.

The patterns of language and the ways we use it are complex and many-layered, and linguists have found it useful to approach some of the parts and layers separately, while also recognizing connections among them. Accordingly, linguistics is conventionally divided into several subordinate sciences:

The structure of this course loosely reflects this division.

The textbook for the course is Contemporary Linguistics: An Introduction, by William O'Grady, John Archibald, Mark Aronoff, and Janie Rees-Miller (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's; seventh edition, 2017; ISBN 978–1–319–03977–6).

In this new edition, there are many references to optional readings, exercises, and audio downloads at the Macmillan Learning Web site called Launchpad Solo ( I had originally considered experimenting with this site, but it turns out that it's behind a paywall. The new textbook was supposed to be packaged with access codes that would have allowed purchasers to tunnel through the paywall, but it wasn't. It doesn't seem reasonable or prudent for students to pay yet another fee for the privilege of accessing the on-line materials. I suggest that you simply ignore all references to Launchpad Solo.

Update: According to the College bookstore, there is currently nothing behind the Launchpad Solo paywall anyway. Ironically, Macmillan isn't planning to launch Launchpad until June 15!

The class meets at 9 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in ARH 120.

The Instructor

The instructor for this course is John David Stone. My office is Noyce 3829, near the east end of the long corridor on the third floor of the Noyce Science Center, on the north side (facing Eighth Avenue). My telephone extension on the Grinnell College campus is 3181.

My office hours for spring 2017 are

or by appointment.

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