Linguistics 1

Linguistics 1 is an excellent introduction to Linguistics as a field of study.  The course includes Linguistics 1 for Education, a stream tailored to the needs of Bachelor of Education (Foundation Phase) students.  Both streams of the course include eight modules which cover many of the most important areas of the study of the structure of language and ways in which language is used.  These eight modules are listed below.

Here are some other helpful resources for Ling 1 students:

Student Handbook 2020

Guide to Academic Writing in Linguistics

Linguistics 1 RUconnected course


Language Structures

Lecturer: Mark de Vos

Many students know very little about the structure of language. In this module we explain the systematic rules of English, using a generative model and demonstrate that language is hierarchically structured. Areas covered include:

  • generative grammar and simple phrase-structure rules
  • grammatical functions (e.g. subject, object, complement)
  • constituency
  • simple transformations


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Language in South Africa and Society

Lecturer: Kelly Kilian

This module explores language in society, how people use language to mark identity, and how they adjust their use of language according to what they are doing. Areas of special interest include:

  • the 11 official languages of South Africa
  • the nature of Standard English
  • men’s versus women’s language
  • slang and jargon
  • why language changes over time
  • naming practices across cultures


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Sounds of the World

Lecturer: William Bennett

In this module we lay the foundations of an understanding of the phonetic structure of English in particular and human language in general. Topics covered include:

  • how sound works
  • how sounds are produced by the vocal organs
  • phonetic transcription using the International Phonetic Alphabet
  • transcribing the General South African English accent
  • syllables, stress and connected speech
  • phonology: the sound systems of language


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Language in Context

Lecturer: Gwyn Ortner

Here we examine ways in which language is used rather than what its components are. We explore how language users interpret what other speakers intend to convey and how they successfully take part in the complex activity called conversation. Topics covered include:

  • how conversation works
  • cohesion: how texts stick together
  • deixis: you are the centre of your universe!
  • discourse as a social action: politeness across cultures


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African Linguistics

Lecturer: Ron Simango

The goal of this module is to deepen students’ knowledge of some key concepts in formal linguistics (i.e. phonology, morphology and syntax) through the lens of African languages.  Topics covered include:


  • Variety of African languages
  • Phonological systems and processes
  • Morphological properties and word formation
  • Major lexical categories
  • Grammatical gender, person and number
  • Grammatical functions and verb morphology


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Language in Childhood

Lecturer: Tracy Probert

This module focuses on issues involved in first-language acquisition. Topics covered include:

  • theories of language acquisition and learning
  • child-directed speech and language acquisition strategies
  • developmental sequences in first language acquisition
  • language acquisition in social isolation
  • cross-cultural diversity in language acquisition, reading and writing


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Language and Meaning

Lecturer: Mbali Jiyane

Humans have devised intricate systems for encoding meanings in the words they use. In this module we focus on:

  • the meaningful units which form the basis of language
  • the relationship between language and the world
  • relationships between the meanings of words
  • the relationship between meaning, thought and language
  • how the human mind organises words and stores meanings


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Language in the Media 

Lecturer: Ian Siebörger

This module equips students to analyse texts in the media in order to uncover the ideologies they encode. Topics include:

  • defining texts and genres
  • the three metafunctions of language: Ideational, Interpersonal and Textual
  • language and ideology
  • persuasive language


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For more information about Linguistics 1, please contact Prof. Mark de Vos.

Last Modified: Fri, 05 Feb 2021 14:49:39 SAST