2018 Special Lecture : Language and Culture

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Academic unit or major
Humanities and social science courses
Akama Hiroyuki  Hirakawa Yahiro  Yamamoto Hilofumi 
Class Format
Media-enhanced courses
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Syllabus updated
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Course description and aims

This course offers opportunities to help students to be interested in language and linguistics as a preliminary and introductory course provided before the course series of Linguistics A, B and C. In each class one problem is raised from three branches of linguistics for initiating students' interest in language through discussion and practice. During the sessions for syntax, grammatical categories like possessive relation and aspect are discussed. During the session for phonetics and phonology, students examine how the sounds of language are described by practically uttering each sound of Japanese. The session for semantics deals with delicate issues such as arbitrariness and fictive motion.
The aims of this course is to let students acquire preliminary insights into the theory and practice of language, prepare for the subsequent learning of the relevant courses on linguistics, and take the initial steps in the language sciences which are more systematic and comprehensive.

Student learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will:
-Become aware of the importance of linguistics and language sciences.
-Realize pleasures and difficulties in the study of language.
-Have an understanding of fundamental issues in linguistics.


language, linguistics, syntax, phonetics, phonology, semantics

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

Sub-discipline of linguistics changes every two lessons. In every lesson one problem is raised to be solved through discussion and practice to let students become familiar with linguistics.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Syntax (1) Solve this problem. Is the expression such as " nekutai ga magatteiru yo."(Lit. Your tie is winding) progressive form ?
Class 2 Syntax (2) Solve this problem. Is "suru" in " aoi me o shi teiru."(= have blue eyes) like "do" in English?
Class 3 Phonology(1) Solve this problem. What is the difference between phonetics and phonology?
Class 4 Phonology(2) Solve this problem. The relationship between the spelling and pronunciation of Japanese words is not always simple. Can you provide a basic phonetic representation of the following words ? : (Oo-okayama, oosama), (seetaa, seito), (oneesan, oniisan), (shinbun, denpa, kanmiryo).
Class 5 Semantics(1) Solve this problem. Why is "renzu-mame" (lentil) derived from "renzu" (lens)? "renzu-mame" should be much older than "renzu."
Class 6 Semantics(2) Solve this problem. "The highway runs through the valley." But isn't it cars that run?
Class 7 Semantics(3) Solve this problem. When you heard that "he threw away his job", is the arm area activated in the motor cortex of your brain?


No textbook is set. This course places emphasis on the discussion for initiating the interest of language, linguistics and language sciences.

Reference books, course materials, etc.

Supplementary materials can be either provided during class or downloaded from TOKYO TECH OCW-i.

Assessment criteria and methods

Students are assessed on the following criteria.
Discussion and practice in each class: 70%
Final report: 30%

Related courses

  • LAH.T109 : Linguistics A
  • LAH.T210 : Linguistics B
  • LAH.T309 : Linguistics C

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

No prerequisite.

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