Introduction to Linguistic Analysis

ANTH 220 - Spring 2016

Mondays & Wednesdays 1:00-2:15 pm; Bailey 201



Instructor      Jennifer R. Guzmán, PhD

Office hours Bailey 108, Mondays 2:30-4:00, Tuesdays 12:45-2:15, and by appointment. Feel free to visit office hours to discuss any questions you have about linguistics, course content, assignments, or your academic progress.

Email      Feel free to email questions that can be answered briefly. If you have a complex question or situation, please visit me during office hours. I read e-mail Monday-Friday. Allow 1-2 days for a response. When sending email, include ANTH 220 and a topic in the subject line.  

Office Phone   (585) 245-5174

Course TA        Rosalyn Simpson (



Course description

This course is a practical introduction to methods and theory surrounding analysis of (1) natural languages and (2) naturally occurring language use. The first half of the course focuses on the foundational areas of theoretical linguistics: phonetics (the repertoire of human speech sounds), phonology (sound relations of particular languages), morphology (the composition of words), syntax (grammar, the structure of phrases), semantics (linguistic meaning), and pragmatics (language use/context). The second half of the course will focus on discourse analysis (DA), specifically conversation analysis (CA), a methodology that is used by sociolinguists and linguistic anthropologists for the analysis of what Emanuel Schegloff has referred to as “language in the wild.” The course also integrates computational text analysis as a complement to conventional DA and CA. Readings and practical exercises in the course focus on familiarizing students with analytic techniques. The latter half of the course focuses on analyzing discourse from institutional settings specifically, emergency service (911) calls, doctor-patient interaction, and news/political media.



Learning Outcomes

  • Students will become familiar with technical terminology and procedures for analysis of language at multiple levels of granularity.
  • Students will develop proficiency in recognizing linguistic patterns through analysis of exemplars from multiple languages.
  • Students will gain fluency in reading and proficiency in producing technical transcripts of recorded speech.
  • Students will be able to identify discourse patterns that characterize institutional contexts of language use.

Required Texts

  • (LF) Vedrana Mihalicek and Christin Wilson. Language Files. 11th edition. The Ohio State University Press. ISBN: 9780814251799 
  •  (TIA) John Heritage and Steven Clayman. Talk in Action. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 9781405185493 

Please bring whichever book we are working with you to each class session. We will frequently work with excercises and examples in the book during class.


Course Requirements

  • Comprehension of linguistic analytic terms and procedures: demonstrated in homework assignments, two midterms, and a grand analysis finale (i.e. final exam). Midterms will include short definitions and analysis problems. The grand analysis finale will require transcription and analysis of provided recordings.
  • Engaged and active participation: accomplished through contributing to class discussions and completing in-class practice exercises (some individual work and some group work). 
  • Peer teaching: accomplished by presenting a succinct lecture (maximum 10 minutes) in which you define one linguistic concept and provide examples to explain it to the class.


Grading structure







Midterm 1

Midterm 2

Final exam (Grand Analysis Finale)

Participation (contributions to class discussion and completion of in-class work)






Grading: Grading for this class follows the standards for letter grading that appear in the Geneseo Undergraduate Bulletin.

A  / A-             Excellent work

B+, B, B-         Very good work

C / C+             Satisfactory work (note: work that fulfills all stipulated requirements and is turned in on time may fall in this category)

C-                    Work demonstrating minimal competence

D                     Marginal work

E (failure)        Inadequate work

Other possible grades are: P (pass), F (fail), S (satisfactory), U (unsatisfactory), and W (withdrawn). Consult the Bulletin for details about these latter grades.


Accommodation: If you need classroom accommodations due to a documented or suspected learning difference, disability, or medical condition, including in relation to pregnancy or parenting, please contact Dean Buggie-Hunt ( at the Office of Disability Services (ODS) and bring me a letter outlining the accommodations you require. Do so as early as possible.


Electronics policy: Use of laptops during class is permitted, but I encourage you to take notes the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper. Recent studies indicate we learn better when we are not working on a computer. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, we are more likely to think about, synthesize, and remember information when we write longhand than when we type notes on a computer.[1] Second, with easy access to the internet most of us succumb to the temptation to electronically multi-task during lectures, and this significantly diminishes learning,[2] not to mention distracting others who happen to be nearby. We are incredibly privileged to be here. Please respect the opportunity that class sessions offer for learning, analyzing, and discussing issues that impact our lives as members of civil society. Limit laptop use to class-related work and put your phone away during class. If you have extenuating circumstances that require you to keep the ringer on your phone turned on during class, please let me know in advance.


Homework: Homework is listed as “practice exercises” in the course schedule. Turn in a hard copy of your practice exercise answers at the beginning of class on the day following when the exercise is listed in the course syllabus. Homework will be graded based on completion and returned quickly, so we can review answers as a class. Because of this quick turnaround, no late homework will be accepted. Each student’s lowest homework grade will be dropped.


Academic Honesty

Familiarize yourself with the SUNY Geneseo policies on academic honesty:

If you have any questions about whether something is permissible (e.g. collaboration with a classmate) or whether writing in a particular way would constitute plagiarism or academic dishonesty, feel free to ask me over email or in person. I appreciate your questions and will not judge anyone negatively for seeking clarification. If you find yourself in a personal crisis and are unable to finish assigned work by a deadline, please contact me to work out a solution for turning in a late assignment, rather than resorting to plagiarism. In order to maintain the integrity of the course, everyone will be held responsible for their actions.



Schedule is subject to change as necessary over the course of the semester


Week 1           INTRODUCTION

January 20      Review syllabus and course schedule

Week 2           PHONETICS

January 25      Language Files

2.0 What is phonetics?

2.1 Representing Speech Sounds

2.2 Articulation: English Consonants

2.8 Practice exercise questions 3, 8, 9

January 27      2.3 Articulation: English Vowels

2.5 Suprasegmental Features

2.8 Practice exercise questions 15, 17, 18   

Week 3           PHONOLOGY

February 1     3.0 What is phonology?

3.2 Phonemes and allophones

February 3     3.4 Phonological laws

3.5 How to Solve Phonology Problems

3.6 Practice exercises

Week 4           MORPHOLOGY

February 8     4.0 What Is Morphology?

                        4.1 Words and Word Formation: The Nature of the Lexicon

                        4.2 Morphological Processes

February 10   4.3 Morphological Types of Languages

                        4.5 Morphological Analysis

                        4.6 Practice exercises


Week 5           SYNTAX        

February 15   5.0 What is Syntax?

                        5.1 Basic Ideas of Syntax

                        5.2 Syntactic Properties

February 17   5.3 Syntactic Constituency

                        5.4 Syntactic Categories

                        5.6 Practice exercises

                        Take-home midterm 1 distributed


Week 6          

February 22    SEMANTICS

6.0 What is Semantics?

                        6.1 An Overview of Semantics

                        6.2 Lexical Semantics: The Meanings of Words


February 24   6.3 Compositional Semantics: The Meanings of Sentences

                        6.5 Practice exercises

                        DUE: Take-home midterm 1


Week 7           PRAGMATICS

February 29   7.0 What is Pragmatics?

                        7.1 Language in Context

                        7.2 Rules of Conversation

                        7.3 Drawing Conclusions

March 2          7.4 Speech Acts

                        7.5 Presupposition

                        7.6 Practice exercises




March 7         TIA Chapter 1 “Introduction” and 2 “Conversation Analysis: Some Theoretical Background”

March 9         Transcription workshop – BRING YOUR LAPTOP TO CLASS TODAY. Also print & bring a copy to class of the CA transcription conventions file that is posted to MyCourses.



March 14, 16 No classes - SPRING BREAK




March 21       TIA Chapter 3 Talking Social Institutions into Being

March 23       TIA Chapter 4 “Dimensions of Institutional Talk”

                        Guest lecture: Dr. Kirk Anne “Using Computational Tools for Analyzing         Institutional Talk”

                        Take-home midterm 2 distributed



March 28       TIA Intro to Emergency Service (pp. 51-52) & Ch. 5 “Emergency Calls as         Institutional Talk” (pp 53-68)

March 30       TIA Ch. 6 “Gatekeeping and Entitlement to Emergency Service”

                        Practice exercise: see handout

                        DUE: Take-home midterm 2



April 4            TIA Intro to Part 3 (pp 101-102) and Ch. 8 “Patients’ Presentations of Medical           Issues: The Doctor’s Problem”

                        Raymond “Grammar and Social Relations” (pdf on MyCourses)

April 6            TIA Ch. 9 “Patients’ Presentations of Medical Issues: The Patient’s Problem”

                        Practice: exercise: see handout




April 11          TIA Ch. 10 “History Taking in Medicine: Questions and Answers”

April 13          Workshop on using CA and computational tools for analyzing medical          interaction (with Dr. Kirk Anne)

                        Practice exercise: see handout




April 18          TIA Introduction to Part 5 (pp 213-214) and Ch. 15 “News interview turn-       taking”

April 20          TIA Ch. 16 “Question Design in the News Interview and Beyond”

                        Practice: exercise: see handout




April 25           TIA Ch. 17 “Answers and Evasions”

April 27          Hualpa “Flat Refusals to Answer without an Account” (pdf on MyCourses)



Week 15        CONCLUSIONS

May 2             TIA Ch. 19 “Conclusion”

Workshop in preparation for the grand analysis finale: analyzing political      discourse: presidential debates



GRAND ANALYSIS FINALE - Friday, May 6, 12:00-2:30, Bailey 201

[1] Mueller, P. A. and D. M. Oppenheimer (2014). "The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking." Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1177/0956797614524581.

[2] Hembrooke, H. and G. Gay (2003). "The Laptop and the Lecture: The Effects of Multitasking in Learning Environments." Journal of Computing in Higher Education 15(1): 46-64.