Freshman Seminar

Ling 102.001: Languages of Asia

Meeting time: MW 4-5:30 Place: 3000 Frieze Bldg Instructor: Peter Hook 769-9045; Office hours: Fri 1:30-3:00, 1096 Frieze Bldg., immediately after class, or by appointment. Website: Schedule of seminar activities. This seminar is intended to introduce participants to the languages of Asia, especially to the ones taught here at the University of Michigan. The introduction to each language will have three parts: 1. Information about the language: Who speaks it? Where? What sounds does the language have? What is its grammar like? How does its writing system work? What family does it belong to? What is its history? 2. Discussion of how such facts about particular languages illuminate more general themes: a. Language families. b. How languages change. c. The characterization of specific languages from a typological point of view. d. The origin and evolution of writing systems. e. The cultural role of the language in the nation where it is (or was) spoken. f. Development of literary languages as a concomitant of empire or nation or religion building. g. Multilingualism, diglossia, dialects. h. The influence of languages from other parts of the world on Asian languages in colonial and post-colonial times. i. Other themes or topics that may emerge as the Seminar proceeds. 3. A brief specimen of literature (usually a short poem) selected, transcribed, glossed, and annotated in such a way as to show off the structural and semantic properties of the language and how they are exploited for aesthetic effect. Materials: 1. The textbook is The World's Major Languages, edited by Bernard Comrie and published in paperback form in 1990 by Oxford University Press. This collection includes articles on each of the Asian languages we will be looking at in the Seminar (plus a good many others). It is available from Shaman Drum Bookshop at 313 S. State St. (Phone: 662-7407) Cost of textbook: approximately $35. 2.Other useful materials on general linguistics.

3. I am a frequent user of class hand-outs which are crafted in response to questions and discussions that arise in the seminar. I will have to charge you for these, 5 cents per page. The total will not exceed $4.00. 4. In making your own seminar presentations you will want to bring in a few pages of hand-outs for all the participants (about 25 or so). If you want others to read an additional article of appreciable length in preparation for your presentation, let me know in advance and we will figure out to arrange it. As participants in this seminar you will share responsibility for its direction and contents with me. As my specialty is the languages of India and Pakistan, I will be looking to you to assist me with languages spoken in other parts of Asia. In groups of two or three you will introduce the rest of us to the basic characteristics of these languages, choose (in consultation with me) some particular aspects of your language to discuss in the context of a more general theme (any of those listed under 2 above - or some other theme that you are interested in), and (in consultation with me) prepare a brief literary specimen. Your oral presentation will include careful reporting on a book or articles that the rest of us will not have read. Some of you have one or another Asian language as part of your family heritage. You may want to be part of the small group working on such a language. Or you may prefer to explore a language that you are completely unacquainted with. During the semester I would like to see each of you take about ten to fifteen (not more than twenty) minutes in oral presentation. You should create class handouts to assist you. The textbook (and I) will provide ideas for things to investigate and further references. The World Wide Web is another source. I will want to have an outline of your group's presentation by Monday of the preceding week and review with you any handouts you plan to use during that week. This presentation will provide the basis for a coursepaper that you may submit in place of taking the final exam. (I would plan on the submission of a coursepaper written by a group of two or three being the unmarked option.) I need to have a prefinal version of your coursepaper by 3 December. Other requirements: 1. Quizzes: On the Wednesday of the week before, a very small sample of the following weekUs language will be distributed: Two or three short sentences in transcription and (if the language in question does not use the Roman alphabet) a word or phrase in the original writing system. These are to be learnt by heart as starting points for discussion on the following Monday. There will be a brief three minute written quiz on these items at the beginning of the hour on that day. 2. Problems: On Monday, I will hand out one or two short problems using data from that weekUs language. One of these (when there is a choice) will be due the following Wednesday. 3. Hour exams: There are two hour exams, one on 22 October (covering South and West Asia) and another on 8 December (covering East and Southeast Asia). 4. Attendance and participation: You are expected to attend the Seminar regularly, to have read the assignments, and to be ready to contribute to discussion. Evaluation: Coursepaper (or Final Exam): 32%

Hour exams: 32%

Problems (best eight): 16%

Oral presentation and participation: 12%

Quizzes (best eight): 8%

My role in the Seminar: I will start out as something of an expert but then gradually subside to the role of a facilitator, moderator, and advisor. I will do my best to encourage your informed and lively partici- pation in the discussions and to create an atmosphere where each of you feels free to contribute your best to the Seminar. From time to time I will ask you for your reactions to particular activities and I am ready to substantially rethink and redirect the Seminar if it does not provide what you want. I spend Tuesday and Thursday mornings at home and am happy to receive phone calls there (769-9045) as well as in the evenings up to 9:30 pm. My office hours are from 1:30 to 3 pm on Fridays in 1096 Frieze Bldg. (There may be a note on my door asking you to come down to the Linguistics computer room 1084 Frieze.) Schedule of seminar activities. Back to index page.