French and Italian | Introduction to French Linguistics
F402 | 27251 | Vance, Barbara


This course introduces students to the field of Linguistics – the
scientific study of language – through the analysis of the structure
of French. We will look at three main areas:

1. Sentence structure: how sentences are constructed in
hierarchical as well as linear form; how French sentence structure
is like and unlike that of other languages (with special comparison
to English), how individual sentences are hooked together in
discourse, and how French sentence and discourse structure has
changed over time and continues to change ...
2. Word structure: how words are built up out of the basic
building blocks – morphemes like aim- (a root) and –iez (an
inflectional suffix which designates the word’s function) or –able
(a derivational suffix which adds to the root’s meaning); how form
and meaning are matched up (why is an ambassadrice NOT necessarily a
female ambassadeur – and could this ever change?); how compounds are
constructed differently in French and English (ouvre-boîtes vs. can
opener), and how children and adults invent new words (in different
ways) ...
3. Sound structure: the basic inventory of French sounds and how
it is organized; differences in pronunciation among different
varieties of French in France and around the world; how to write
French (and English) in the International Phonetic Alphabet, thus
overcoming the limitations of a complex but not completely illogical
spelling system ...

The course takes a problem-solving approach: students are presented
with specially constructed data sets and learn to make their own
linguistically-informed generalizations about how French works.
Although it will be assumed that students are meeting linguistic
concepts for the first time, students who have already had an
introduction to general linguistics are welcome. All students must
have taken French through at least the F313 level (or have special
permission from the instructor). Prerequisite is F313 or F314 or
consent of instructor.