LING 3019 - Languages in the C21: Cultural Contact & New Words

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2019

The study of words may be tedious to the school-boy, as breaking of stones is to the wayside labourer, but to the thoughtful eye of the geologist these stones are full of interest ? he sees miracles on the high road, and reads chronicles in every ditch. (Max Muller 1871, Lectures on the Science of Language, London: Longman, Green; vol. I, p. 2) This multifaceted course will introduce students to a range of mechanisms through which new words and meanings are concocted in the modern world. It will explore borrowing ('stealing', or more accurately 'copying'), word-formation, neologization, calquing (loan translation), phono-semantic matching, lexical engineering, semantic shifting of pre-existent words, descriptiveness, purism and etymythology (popular etymology). It will focus on phenomena of lexical expansion and semantic enrichment that are based on contact between cultures and languages. The course will combine sociolinguistic insight with philological expertise, thus being polychronic, i.e. simultaneously diachronic and synchronic. We shall integrate innovative etymological, morphological, ecological and cultural analyses of words in various languages such as English, Mandarin Chinese, Israeli (a.k.a. Modern Hebrew), Japanese, Icelandic, Turkish, Estonian, Yiddish, Australian Aboriginal languages, Italian, German, French, Spanish, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, creoles, minority and endangered languages. (No prior knowledge of any language other than English is required.)

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