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Course Information

Instructor Info:Joanna Morris
Office Extension x5462
TA Info:Ethan Warshow
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
12:30 PM - 01:50 PM Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) 221
12:30 PM - 01:50 PM Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) 221

Words are the basic linguistics units of a language and the ability to recognize a word is a fundamental component of reading. For many years most of the research in reading was conducted in English, and it was assumed that what was true for reading English words would also be true for words in other languages. However, many languages differ in striking ways from English and studying these languages can be useful in illustrating the different ways that people approach reading. In this class we will look at the structure of words in the Semitic languages-Hebrew and Arabic-and consider how differences in word structure can influence the ways in which we read. Students will learn how to read and critically evaluate the scholarly literature on the psychology of reading.

Course Objectives:

The overall objective of the course if to teach you how to do the things that a psycholinguist does every day, i.e. to uncover and disseminate knowledge about how languages work and what characteristics of the human mind enable people to speak and understand each other.  

In this course, I want to teach you to discover information about languages and the mind for yourself.  The goal is to get you to become producers as opposed to mere consumers of knowledge.  

Learning to produce nevertheless must begin with some consumption, hence the first course objective is that you learn some of the basics of linguistic theory, at least with respect to language at the level of the word.

You will also learn how to read and critically evaluate the pyscholinguistic literature on word recognition.  This involves, (1) becoming familiar with the scientific method, (2) understanding the ways in which use of the scientific method can advance our understanding of the human mind and human behavior, ( and (3) becoming conversant in the unique language used by psycholinguistic researchers.  

Once you have learned how to read and evaluate the literature, you will learn how to ask appropriate questions, i.e. (a) questions that are answerable using the scientific method,  and (b) questions that are theoretically motivated, in that they drive the field forward and contribute to a deeper understanding and explanation of the phenomena in question. 

Evaluation Criteria:

Students are required to attend class, participate in discussions, take notes when necessary, do assigned readings, and complete all assignments.  The required assignments MUST be submitted in order to receive an evaluation in this course.  Any student who does not turn sufficient work, or does not turn in work in a timely fashion, will not receive an evaluation for the course. 

All work should be turned in via the course website (instructions will be provided).  Except in exceptional circumstances, I would prefer not to accept e-mailed work.

Grade Weighting Scheme

Research Paper 50%

Short Answer Assignments 35%

Reaction papers (guest speakers) 10%

Attendance and participation 5%


Additional Info:

Course Textbook 

Aronoff, M. & Fudeman, K. (2011).  What is morphology, 2nd Edition.  Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.