My main objective to take this course is understanding linguistics aspects of NLP better and getting an idea about overall linguistics topics. I haven’t take any introduction to linguistics course before. So, I thought that this course would be a good introduction to the area for me.
This 6-weeks course is a simple introduction to linguistics. In each week, we have lectures, interviews, and modules with 6 different language speakers to look up real language data of related topics of each week. We also have discussion sessions with two students to cover up each week’s topics. Let’s look at the content.
Human Language and Language Diversity
In the first week, they introduce languages by stating the differences between human and animal communication systems. They introduce Ethnologue which is an online encyclopedia for languages. Also, Victoria Nyst talks about sign language in the interview section.
Phonetics and Phonology
They introduce phonetics, phonology, and the IPA alphabet in the second week. Also, the place of production of speech sounds discussed briefly. Differences between consonants and vowels in languages are mentioned. In the end, Claartje Leve talks about the children’s phonological acquisition of their native languages.
- Morphology and Syntax
They introduce morphology and syntax by discussing word and sentence structures in different languages. It is a simple introduction, though. They discuss word orders in sentences and questions, affixes, etc. This week, the interview was with Noam Chomsky. It was about his journey to linguistics. I would recommend it:
Semantics and Pragmatics
The fourth week is about semantics and pragmatics. The meaning of sentences and words are discussed via these two layers by giving examples in different languages like Inuit. Barend Beekhuizen is introduced his computational model on child language acquisition.
In the fifth week, they introduce language-related problems in the brain(aphasia). The connection between the brain and reading is also discussed in this week. Professor Neils Schiller discusses neurolinguistics and Western Bias in linguistics. I haven’t seen aphasia disorder before this course and I believe it is a quite different phenomenon. Check out this video with aphasia patient:
Last week, sociolinguistics is introduced by Labov’s study about language change in Philadelphia. Politeness theory is also explained. I like the idea of politeness theory. Check out this well-prepared Wikipedia article about it: Politeness Theory
In the end, Adele Goldberg talks about the constructionist approach in language learning.
I enjoyed learning Politeness Theory, Aphasia, and the interviews in each week. Also, speakers in Abruzzese, Basque, Gungbe, Mandarin Chinese, Tarafit Berber, and Turkish make the quality of the content better. However, the course offers a very light introduction to linguistics. Many topics in this course could have been explored further. It was a fun course but it was not as informative as I expected.