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MA Anthropological Linguistics

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  • Entry requirements
    Entry Good first degree normally required. Applicants who do not speak English as their native language must pass the IELTS English test with a score of 6.5 in all four components or a TOEFL exam with a score of 600.
  • Academic Title
    MA Anthropological Linguistics
  • Course description
    The MA in Anthropological Linguistics provides a taught programme of graduate-level study in the interdisciplinary area of language and culture, which is not limited to a specific theoretical perspective. The course provides a comprehensive, varied and flexible programme of training in multi-disciplinary topics associated with the study of language, culture, communication, behaviour, society, and cognition. The purpose of the course is to provide students with the necessary theoretical, analytical and methodological tools and skills to undertake advanced research in an area of language, culture and communication.

    The taught component of the MA takes place over semesters 1 and 2. In semester 1, students take two foundational modules: Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology and Language, Thought and Reality. The Linguistic Anthropology module introduces them to key subjects areas, theoretical approaches and methodologies in the discipline, ranging from evolutionary questions to culture theories, and social models of understanding. Language, Thought and Reality is a theoretical and experimental module addressing the triangular relationship between language, culture and thought. This module incorporates a methodological element. In semester 2, students take two modules covering additional core subject areas, including Linguistic Ethnography (a specifically methodological module), and Language, Culture and Society. This latter module addresses key concerns and facts in linguistic anthropology, including diversity, development, multilingualism, and sociolinguistics. 

    The MA in Anthropological Linguistics consists of a taught component of 4 required modules, two option modules and a research dissertation of 20,000 words maximum.

    Compulsory modules (20 credits each):

        * Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
        * Linguistic Ethnography
        * Language, Thought and Reality
        * Language, Culture and Society

    Optional modules (20 credits each)
    2 of the following:

        * Metaphor and Thought
        * Grammar and Mind
        * Language of Space and Time
        * Language, Mind and Brain
        * Introduction to Cognitive Linguistics

    Module Descriptions

    Introduction to Cognitive Linguistics
    This module provides an introduction to and overview of the Cognitive Linguistics enterprise. In particular it provides an introduction to the historical origins of the approach known as Cognitive Linguistics, including its basic assumptions and key theoretical commitments, an overview of the range and nature of the theoretical paradigms which make up the Cognitive Linguistics enterprise, and the range and nature of phenomena investigated by cognitive linguists and applications. In addition, a significant part of the course is concerned with the theoretical and empirical methods employed in cognitive linguistics. For instance, recent work has placed special importance on securing convergent evidence from a broad empirical basis, including using samples from unrelated languages, corpora, and employing methods from cognitive sciences such as Psychology, Neuropsychology and Computer Science.

    Metaphor and Thought
    This module represents an introduction to the main theoretical paradigms in cognitive linguistics that investigate figurative language, particularly metaphor. These include conceptual metaphor theory, approaches to conceptual metonymy, Mental Spaces Theory, Conceptual Blending Theory and the Theory of Lexical Concepts and Cognitive Models. This course introduces students to the main motivations, architectures and methodologies associated with these theories, as well as considering applications and descriptive and theoretical problems and challenges for these approaches. The course also considers recent experimental approaches to metaphor.

    Language, Thought and Reality
    This module introduces students to issues pertaining to the relationship between language, thought, and our perception of reality. Its central debate addresses whether language may influence our thinking, including our understanding of the world. This important debate is also known as the linguistic relativity question, and is central to the fields of linguistics and cognition, especially in cognitive linguistics and cognitive psychology.

    Grammar and Mind
    This module provides an overview of approaches to grammar in cognitive linguistics. Such approaches are characterised by assigning meaning a central role in the nature and organisation of grammar, and viewing grammar as an outcome of the nature of our embodied experience and our cognitive apparatus. Moreover, such an approach views grammar as an outcome of situated language usage. This module introduces the student to some of the main theories and methodologies characteristic of this approach, and also addresses the relation between grammatical organisation and conceptual structure and the way grammatical structure derives and evolves, as motivated in part by experience of the world and cognitive mechanisms.

    Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
    Linguistic anthropology is a module adopting a cross-disciplinary approach to the study of language. It considers various topics through the prism of language as related to biology and evolution, and ultimately to society and culture. The module introduces and reviews key notions in the discipline, such as the origins and evolution of language, linguistic diversity, language death, theories of culture, cultural and linguistic relativity, ethnography and communication, sociolinguistics, structuralist anthropology, and cognitive psychology.

    Language, Culture and Society
    Language, Culture and Society is a survey module reviewing facts and processes involved in ethno-linguistic diversity, in language and development, in multilingualism, and in sociolinguistics. It is concerned with contemporary issues pertaining to language and society. It relates the daily practice of language to individual lives, socio-economic dynamics, political agendas, planning policies, and more.

    Language, Mind and Brain
    This module looks at the psychology of language, with a focus on the relationship between language and cognition. The first part of the module introduces the study of the brain and of the neuropsychology of language. The second part examines models of language processing. That is, we try to explain how speech gets perceived and words recognised, how reading tasks are completed, how sentences and discourse get comprehended, and how speakers produce speech. From this neurocognitive perspective, the module questions the nature of the relationship between language and thought, and debates the controversy of the direction of this relationship, based on the ideas developed by Chomsky, Fodor, Jackendoff, Levinson, Whorf, and cognitive linguistics approaches.

    The Language of Space and Time
    This module constitutes an introduction to the nature of and relationship between time and space. It also introduces the manner in which language is employed in cognitive linguistics to investigate how these domains of experience are conceptualised. The module focuses on the way in which space and time have been investigated as distinct domains of experience, as well as the way in which they appear to interface. The module introduces students to cross-linguistic and experimental approaches that have been deployed within cognitive linguistics in investigating time and space, as well as specific theories of linguistic and conceptual organisation and structure, which attempt to provide accounts of the nature of spatial and temporal conceptualisation.

    Linguistic Ethnography
    Linguistic ethnography is a module which focuses on research methodology. Ethnography is particularly relevant as a qualitative approach to behaviour studied in its socio-cultural context. In this module we are concerned with linguistic behaviour: the specific type of behaviour under investigation. Students are introduced to qualitative methodologies of fieldwork, ranging from participant-observation to semi-structured interviews. The module also introduces students to the professional code of conduct in ethnographic fieldwork, and in particular, to the importance of ethical considerations. The course will endow students with the necessary skills for implementing a micro-scale linguistic ethnographic study.

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