ATS1338 - Language and communication: Sounds and words - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit


Chief examiner(s)

Professor Kate Burridge


Professor Kate Burridge

Unit guides



  • First semester 2019 (On-campus)


Language is something that we use every day, but we rarely stop to think about its underlying rules and patterns. Most human languages are made up of sounds. In this unit we explore the sounds of language and how they are combined in linguistic signs. Students explore the ways in which speech sounds are produced by the human body, and are introduced to the International Phonetic Alphabet as a way of representing the sounds of all spoken languages. We consider how and why the sounds and words of language change over time and between speakers from different social groups. We also explore phonology - how sound systems differ across languages - and morphology - the internal composition of words. Throughout the unit we consider the ways in which these concepts can also be applied to the analysis of sign languages.


Upon successful completion of the unit, students should be able to:

  1. discuss the nature of the linguistic sign and how language differs from other communication systems;
  2. outline the range of sounds used in human language, and the way different sounds are produced;
  3. use a range of conventions for writing down the words and sounds of language;
  4. explore the ways in which people from different social groups or historical periods use the sounds of English;
  5. apply knowledge gained in the unit to everyday experience.


Within semester assessment: 60% + Exam: 40%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study