Introduction to English Linguistics

This course offers an overview of the basic concepts and methods in English language studies. You will be shown the essential means necessary for analysing and describing real-life, as well as literary, language in a scholarly, yet practical way. Additionally, the pages on this site will contain links to exercises, tools & resources for further study.

Important technical terms will be highlighted throughout the course using the following style of colour coding: term. You will also notice that we may sometimes begin by introducing some linguistic concepts in a simplified – and maybe occasionally even seemingly (too) simplistic – way and gradually add more complexity as we develop our descriptive skills further.

What is Linguistics?

A brief introduction to some of the ideas underlying linguistics.

A Very Brief History of (Western) Linguistic Thought

Core Areas of Linguistics

The order in which the core elements of linguistics are presented here is possibly slightly different from the order you find in many more traditional textbooks on linguistics. Often, textbooks on linguistics start with the sounds of language and then move on to written forms. This actually does make sense in some respect because, after all, spoken language should be seen as the primary means of human communication... However, since most of you will be much more used to thinking about language in its written form because this is usually the way it is dealt with in schools and in general in our modern literate society, it will probably be easier for you to understand many of the concepts we want to discuss here if we take written language as our starting point.

Derived Disciplines

Derived linguistic disciplines are disciplines that usually employ a variety of core methods, but may also ‘borrow’ theories and methods from other sciences in order to investigate features of language use and development.

Linguistic Methods & Applications

In contrast to the derived disciplines above, linguistic methods & applications do not really represent disciplines in their own right, but are auxiliary to a variety of different core and derived disciplines.