ENGL 560: The Nature of Language
 Autumn 2008

This course aims to give a basic grounding in three current, productive methodologies: Systemic Functional Linguistics, Cognitive Linguistics, and Corpus Linguistics. We will see what these approaches have to say about the perennial questions such as

Language, as the term is used around departments of language and literature, usually occurs with a specifier (Dickens' language, the language of advertising) and thinks of it as the style, or register, of particular users or communities of use. The linguistics of the past half century have not been of much use to us, focusing as it does/did on languages as systems of formal rules, some of them universal. Today, in the climate of Post Generative Grammar (PGG!--pass it on) schools and approaches such as Cognitive Linguistics, Systemic Functional Linguistics, and Corpus Linguistics offer concepts and tools that are much more useful to our purposes. We will begin with a look at the treatment of genre and register in Systemic Functional Lings. using Susanne Eggins' survey and then take up Cognitive Linguistics, focusing via Croft and Cruse's Introduction on the construal of word and phrase meaning in contexts and testing the viability of their guiding maxim: all differences of form are differences of meaning. Finally we will work with Corpus Linguistics as a group of tools for making patterns of usage visible that we would not otherwise see or be able to pin down. Certain articles applying corpus techniques to questions of meaning in cognitive linguistics will make a key bridge between the approaches. Considerable hands-on instruction in constructing and analyzing corpora will be provided. Topics for the seminar paper can range from an application of these tools to address particular texts or issues to critical examinations of the theories and ideas presented.

Written work will consist of numerous exercises and study questions applying certain concepts  and the final paper. 


Svenja Adolphs, Introducing electronic text analysis. Routledge, 2006 Key phrases
William Croft and D. Alan Cruse, Cognitive linguistics.  Cambridge University Press, 2004. (C&C)   Key phrases
Suzanne Eggins, An introduction to systemic functionial linguistics, 2nd ed.  Continuum, 2004.
Certain on-line articles (class web page URL:courses.washington.edu/englhtml/engl560):

Schedule of assignments:




24 Sept.

Introduction: Leading Ideas

29th Sept. Dillon, cc.1&2 Classic word-level semantics
1 Oct. Eggins, cc.1&2 Overview of SFL; texture: cohesion & coherence
6 Oct. Eggins, c. 3
List of some genres
Genres, Registers, Text Types, Domains, and Styles: Clarifying the Concepts and Navigating a Path Through The BNC Jungle.
Due: cohesion analysis
8 Oct. Eggins, c.4 Register
13 Oct. Eggins, c.5 Syntactic functions and constituents
15 Oct. Eggins, c.8 Transitivity
20 Oct. C&C; ccs 1-2

What is cognitive linguistics?
Frames and framenet
Exercises due.
22 Oct.

C&C: c. 3

Concepts and construal

27 Oct.

C&C: c. 4; 


29 Oct.

C&C: c. 5; 


3 Nov.

C&C: c. 6; 

Lexical relations: synonymy, hyponymy, 
meronymy, antynomy; exercises
Notes on Wordnet domains

5 Nov C&C: c. 8; 
10 Nov

Adolphs, cc. 1-3

word frequency, lexical density, keywords
Note: The correct link for the Word Frequency Indexer is http://www.lextutor.ca/freq/eng/

12 Nov.

The BIG corpora: Leeds Corpora (CQP);
Corpus of American English
Making CQP queries

17 Nov.

Adolphs, c. 4
BNC2 Multiwords

collocations; semantic preferences, discourse prosodies; The Idiom Principle and the Open Choice Principle
Collins WordbanksOnline corpus

19 Nov.

C&C, c.9

Genre corpora

chunk and phrase; Construction Grammar

24 Nov.

Adolphs, c.5
Michael Stubbs on Conrad's Heart

Literary Language

1 Dec.

Adolphs, c.6
Stubbs: Words in Culture (handout)

Text analysis and ideology; Time magazine corpus
3 Dec.
Web  as Corpus
Some Webcorp searches
Webcorp and WebAsCorpus; fixed, tagged?

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