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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: English Short Name: LIM310
Level: HE3 Module Co-ordinator: BROWN DP Dr (English)
Number of credits: 20 Number of ECTS credits: 10
Module Availability


Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment


Weighting Towards Module Mark( %)


Coursework: Oral presentation




Coursework: 2,000 word essay (write up of oral presentation)




Exam: There will be a 150-minute examination at the end of the second semester




Module Overview

This module, which assumes no prior knowledge of languages other than English, is intended to give students an insight into the diversity of human communicative systems to be found throughout the world. In order to understand how human communication works we need to examine the variety of systems to be found, some of which differ drastically from what we know and what we might expect.

Successful completion of Level 2
Module Aims
  • to study the defining characteristics of our major mode of communication, namely human languages


  • to introduce students to data from linguistic systems which differ radically from those with which they are familiar


  • to provide students with an understanding of how linguistic systems differ



Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding:

  • a sound understanding of the different modalities of language (spoken, written, signed)
  • an appreciation of the diversity of linguistic systems
  • a sound understanding of the place of human languages within the range of communicative systems, human and other




  • The ability to formulate, defend and sustain arguments in both written and oral form on complex issues
  • The ability to appreciate how communication is constrained by linguistic systems
  • The ability to carry out independent research for essays on assigned topics
Module Content

Week 1


What is Language?


Linguistic Diversity


Hockett’s Design Features


Week 2


What is Language (cont.)?


Language vs. Dialect



Week 3


Sign Languages


Sign languages vs. spoken languages



Week 4


Sign Languages (cont.)


Structure of British Sign Language




Week 5


Language Classification









Week 6


Language Classification (cont.)


World’s major language families




Week 7


Lingua Francas


Development of a lingua franca


English as a lingua franca



Week 8


Language Status


Official languages


Major languages


Minor languages


ISO codes



Week 9




Large scale -vs- small scale


Notion of proficiency



Week 10


Methods in sociolinguistics






spontaneous speech




Week 11


Methods in sociolinguistics (cont.)


traditional stories


ritualised language





Christmas Vacation



Week 12





Week 13





Week 14





Week 15


Reading week preparing materials for semester 2 modules



Week 1 (Semester 2)


Writing Systems




Consonantal (Abjads)


Syllabic (Syllabaries)


Alphasyllabic (Abugidas)







Week 2 (Semester 2)


Writing Systems (cont.)


Their history


Their extra-linguistic significance



Week 3 (Semester 2)




Grammatical Number systems



Week 4 (Semester 2)


Grammatical Gender


Languages with gender


Languages without gender


Role in syntax/agreement



Week 5 (Semester 2)


Technological implications





Week 6 (Semester 2)


Language and time




Temporal deixis



Week 7 (Semester 2)


Spatial Categorization


Intrinsic frames of reference


Relative frames of reference


Absolute frames of reference


Whorfianism and spatial categorization



Week 8 (Semester 2)


Colour Categorization


Relativism vs. universalism



Week 9 (Semester 2)


Morphological typology


Easter Vacation


Week 10 (Semester 2)


Review and revision of semester 1 with question and answer session


Week 11 (Semester 2)


Review and revision of semester 2 with question and answer session




Week 12





Weeks 13





Weeks 14





Weeks 15






Assessment deadlines



Oral Presentations: Throughout the module



Essay: To be handed in on the Wednesday of week 2 following the students’ presentation.



Exam: Weeks 13-15 of Semester 2. Exact date TBC. .

Methods of Teaching/Learning

Sessions will consist of a formal lecture on a topic for which the students will have completed an assigned reading in advance, and will also take the form of group and whole class discussion based around written stimuli (short texts, questions ) provided by the instructor. Students will give oral presentations, which will be spread out over the two semesters.

Selected Texts/Journals

Essential Reading


Crystal , David (1997) The Cambridge encyclopedia of language. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Expected Purchase)


Recommended Reading


Aitchison, Jean. 1989. The articulate mammal: an introduction to psycholinguistics. London : Unwin Hyman. [3rd Edition]


Aliprand, Joan et al. eds. (2003) The Unicode Standard Version 4.0. Boston : Addison-Wesley.


Berlin , Brent and Paul Kay (1999) Basic color terms: their universality and evolution. Stanford, Calif. : CSLI.


Cheney, Dorothy L. and Robert Seyfarth. 1996. Function and intention in the calls of non-human primates. In Evolution of Social Behaviour Patterns in Primates and Man, ed. by W.G.Runciman, John Maynard-Smith, and R.I.M. Dunbar, 59–76. (Proceedings of the British Academy 88.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Comrie, Bernard (1985) Tense. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Comrie, Bernard ed. (1989) The World's major languages.Reprinted with revisions and additions. London : Routledge.


Comrie, Bernard ed. (1989) The World's major languages. Reprinted with revisions and additions. London : Routledge.


Corbett, Greville G. (2000) Number. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Corbett, Greville G. (1991) Gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Daniels, Peter T. and William Bright (eds). (1996) The World's Writing Systems. Oxford University Press.


Edwards, John (1994). Multilingualism. London : Routledge.


Haspelmath et al. 2005 .  The world atlas of language structures.  Oxford : Oxford University Press. [also available online at ]


Karmiloff, Kyra and Karmiloff-Smith, Annette (2001) Pathways to Language: From Fetus to Adolescent. Harvard University Press.


Levinson, Stephen (2003) Space in Language and Cognition. Cambridge University Press.
Sutton-Spence, Rachel and Bencie Woll (1999) The linguistics of British sign language. Cambridge: Cambdirge University Press.

Last Updated
8 July 2010