SUM: course ideas - Lg & Culture, Lgs of the World

Toshihide Nakayama nakayama at HUMANITAS.UCSB.EDU
Sat May 24 17:04:41 UTC 1997

The first time I tried this message got bounced back, so I will send it
again.  I apologize if this is a duplicate.

Dear everyone,

A while ago I asked for help with the courses I am going to teach,
_Languages of the World_ and _Language and Culture_.

This is a belated summary of responses I got.  I'd like to thank the
following people for the time they took to give me help:

        Andrej A. Kibrik
        Keith Denning
        Noel Rude
        Yuphaphann Hoonchamlong
        Ellen Contini-Morava
        Nicholas Ostler
        Matthew S Dryer
        Alessandro Duranti
        Madeline Maxwell

**** For the _Languages of the World_ course ****

>>From Andrej A. Kibrik:

A friend of mine in Moscow who is teaching Languages of the WOrld has
written a book with the same title, based on his teaching experience. It
addressed, though to a broader audience, like high school students, but
might find a lot of handy information there. THe only (but big) problem is
that it is in Russian.


>>From Noel Rude:

        A number of years ago I helped develop an intro-level undergrad
titled "Languages of the World".  The course sprang from the observation
that in our obsession with scientific principles most of our students
were terribly ignorant of basic facts.  It seemed good that they should
know something about Bantu.  In all our other courses we teach
principles, methodology, how to DO linguistics, and this is good.  But
we were old fashioned.  We thought students ought to know some specific
facts too.

        The course was organized according to three criteria:  1) Typology
(tone lgs., obstruent typologies, the Schleicherian typologies, areal
phenomena like serialization, etc.), 2) Genetic relationships (students
ought to know about Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, Bantu, Sumerian, the
diversity in the Americas and New Guinea, etc.), and 3) Geography
(divide the world into regions and learn something specific about each).

        There was a packet of handouts and an article or two, and we used
two books edited by Timothy Shopen (Languages and their Status, forget
the name of the other) to gave students the opportunity to look at some
"exotic" languages.

        I feel the course was a success.  But alas it's a struggle.  Many
students resist knowing specific facts about the world.  They want to
rap about urban situations, languages in contact, language planning
problems--they don't want to know about Dravidian or where Gilyak is
spoken or the spread of Bantu.  I may sound cynical, but I still think
the effort is worthwhile.


>>From Yuphaphann Hoonchamlong:

For Lgs of the World's textbook: Bernard Comrie's "The world's major
languages. Ethnologue database also is interesting (located at


>>From Ellen Contini-Morava:

For the Languages of the World class I would recommend taking a look at
one or both of the companion volumes, Languages and Their Speakers and
Languages and Their Status, ed. by Tim Shopen and published (paperback) by
U Penn. Press.  Each book has a chapter each devoted to a language and
written by a specialist in that language, including linguistic description
and socio-cultural information.  The linguistic descriptions include
simple exercises (with answers) that the reader can do, that familiarize
readers with concepts like ergativity, expression of various kinds of
spatial relationships, etc. The languages include Malagasy, Guugu
Yimidhirr, Russian, Japanese, Jacaltec, Maninke, Swahili etc.  I regularly
use one or two chapters in a Language and Culture (lower level
undergraduate)  class, and they have been successful.


>>From Nicholas Ostler:

I have just come across Anatole V. Lyovin - An Introduction to the
Languages of the World, published this year by Oxford University Press in
Nrew York (ISBN  0-19-508115-3, and 0-19-508116-1 Paperback).

This seems an excellent compilation in one volume of all the information
that the originator of this thread seemed to be looking for, with genetic
classifications and typological evocations of languages all round the
world, and an appendix of language maps drawn from W. Bright's
Encyclopaedia of Linguistics.  In terms of space, the Americas are rather
over-represented, but hey, it's an American book.  (Europe too is grossly
over-represented of course, but we're used to that.)

So there is a text book now, for that survey of the world's languages.


>>From Matthew Dryer:

I teach a course on the Lgs of the World, a freshman general education
course for nonmajors.  I have tried using Shopen's Languages and their
Status and Languages and their Speakers, but found the chapters too
detailed.  I have more recently tried packets of readings, many of them
encyclopedia articles.  I am planning next time to use a new book "The
Atlas of Languages" edited by Comrie, Matthews, and Polinksy, if I can get
it in a softcover version that is not too expensive.  Another new book
that is a possibility though I'm not overwhelmed by it is "An Introduction
to the Languages of the World" by Anatole Lyovin.  In addition to the
text, I use a detailed handbook containing what would otherwise be my own


In addition to the above, Keith Denning and Matthew Dryer generously sent
me their syllabi.



**** For the _Languages and Culture_ course ****

>>From Alessandro Duranti:

 I have been teaching a large lower division undergraduate class on
and communication using a variety of articles. You can see the syllabus
other information on my web site:

  I also just finished a textbook for Cambridge University Press called
"Linguistic Anthropology" to be used with upper division and graduate
courses. It should be out in August.


Yuphaphann Hoonchamlong

>    - what kind of things you would put in such courses

For language and culture: Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and later studies on
(including Lakoff's book: Women Fire and Dangerous things.).Perhaps some
cross cultural
communication thing too.
A friend of mine taught an undergrad course in Cross cultural Comm. She
on on-line course at: You might find some interesting
link from there.


Madeline Maxwell has web sites for an undergrad course in Language and
Communication and a grad course in Language, Culture & Communication.



  Toshihide NAKAYAMA
  Dept. of Linguistics
  U of California
  Santa Barbara, CA  93117

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