Teaching

Fall 2020

How Language Works

ENGL 3371

Course description

Language touches every aspect of our lives. From reading the morning paper to decrypting secret codes, the subconscious knowledge of language is uniquely human. In this course we'll ask what it means to have a command of language—do animals have it? Infants?

By examining the structures of the world's languages, we will discover why linguists believe in a “universal grammar” in spite of the world's rich linguistic diversity. We'll also learn how to make the sounds of the world's languages—from French nasal vowels to the clicks of Africa's Bantu languages.

This course is suited to anyone interested in language, how the mind works, or the characteristics that make us uniquely human.

  • Thursdays 6:00pm–8:50pm
  • Via Zoom

Office hours


Upcoming teaching

Spring 2021

Introduction to language

ENGL 2370

Course description

Why don't any languages snort? What's the longest word of English? How have emojis, gifs, and memes changed the way we communicate online? Does the Dothraki language from Game of Thrones have actual rules? This course provides a survey of the role of language in human life—its structure, its origins, and its role in society.

This course is ideal for anyone interested in language or languages, and those who need to satisfy the Social and Behavioral Sciences Core requirement.

  • Satisfies Core Social and Behavioral Sciences requirement!

Past teaching

Texas Tech University

Overview of all Texas Tech student evaluation scores: [PDF]

Selected student comments from Texas Tech: [PDF]

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Texas Tech English Building

Rutgers University

Linguistics courses

Overview of all Rutgers linguistics student evaluation scores: [PDF]

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  • Spring 2011. Instructor. Linguistics of Signed Languages. [Syllabus | Student evals]
  • Fall 2010. Teaching Assistant (Instructor: Paul de Lacy): Introduction to Linguistic Theory (2 sections). [Student evals]
  • Summer 2010. Instructor. Linguistics of Signed Languages. [Syllabus | Student evals]
  • Spring 2010. Instructor. Introduction to Linguistic Theory. [Syllabus | Student evals]
  • Fall 2009. Teaching Assistant (Instructor: Paul de Lacy).: Introduction to the Study of Language (2 sections). [Student evals]
  • Summer 2009. Instructor. Linguistics of Signed Languages. [Syllabus | Student evals]

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Other courses

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  • Fall 2012. Instructor. 01:355:101: Expository Writing (2 sections). [Syllabus]
  • Fall 2011. Instructor. 01:355:101: Expository Writing (2 sections). [Syllabus]

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Rutgers Linguistics Building

Brandeis University

Spring 2007. Peer Assistant to Henrietta Hung. Phonological Theory.

Usen Castle, Brandeis University