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58 IntroSems. 25 Stanford fountains. 1 Spring 2020. Don’t suffer from FoHo FoMo!
Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Languages, Dialects, Speakers
Much of the fascination of the study of language lies in the fact that language is variable and changing, but not random or chaotic. Sound patterns, sentence structures, and meanings vary across languages, dialects, individuals, and even within a single individual depending on the speech situation. However, a closer examination typically reveals highly systematic patterns that hold true across all speakers, all dialects, and even all languages. This seminar is an introduction to the study of language variation. The emphasis will be on observing variation in language as it is actually used in everyday life, and trying to explain why such variation occurs and what its limits are. Each seminar participant will carry out a piece of linguistic research. This will involve identifying a variable linguistic phenomenon, inventing hypotheses as to the source and nature of this variation, and testing these hypotheses based on empirical data.