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LIN1010 - The Language Game: Why do we talk the way we do?

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Prof Kate Burridge


Clayton First semester 2007 (Day)
Clayton First semester 2007 (Off-campus)


Human beings spend much of their time playing the language game - small wonder Linguistics, the scientific investigation of language, is such a fast growing and important field of study. In this unit we examine aspects of this fascinating game in a systematic way. They include: the nature of the game (e.g. human versus animal communication, the structure of language); the players (e.g. language acquisition, language and thought); the game plan (e.g. strategies for interacting, politeness); variation in the game (e.g. social/regional varieties, jargon, slang); myths about the game (e.g. some languages are better/harder/more beautiful) and the changing game.


On successfully completing this subject students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of what linguistics is and what linguists do.
  2. Identify and describe the nature of human language.
  3. Discuss and analyse different varieties of language and language use.
  4. Identify and analyse the ways in which language changes.
  5. Observe and be sensitive to issues arising in linguistic interaction.
  6. Explain the major processes of language acquisition. 7. Critically evaluate attitudes to language.


Three Short answer exercises (2500 words total): 50%
Class-participation/on-line discussion: 10%
Exam (2 hours, 2000 word equivalent): 40%

Contact hours

3 hours (2 x 1 hour lectures and 1 x 1 hour tutorial) per week