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LING1008 Elements of Linguistics - Sound, Structure and Meaning

Module Overview

This module is intended to provide an outline for some of the main aspects of Linguistics.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

- Awareness of the structured, combinatory nature of language, looking at sounds, syntax and meaning; - knowledge of the different branches of linguistics; - methodology for the scientific study of language.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • how sound, structure and meaning work in language;
  • key tools used in linguistics such as the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA);
  • systematic approaches required in linguistic study.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • engage with theory and practice in linguistics;
  • appreciate critically certain key notions and concepts;
  • reflect on the usefulness of linguistics for the study of a foreign language.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • demonstrate understanding of elements of theory;
  • work effectively in different modes: carrying out tasks, presenting findings, collaborating with partners and exchanging ideas in seminars;
  • convey ideas in a structured, coherent manner.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • isolate and recognise sounds in language;
  • transcribe English and other European languages using the IPA;
  • show how syntactic modules are formed, working with examples from different languages;
  • account for and analyse extracts of language in terms of their contribution to meaning and understanding in the social context.


There are many ways of viewing language. It could be viewed as a communication system or a means of social interaction. It could be viewed as sounds. It could be viewed as a list of words and associated meanings. It could be seen as a set of rules or principles for combining words into sentences. In fact, linguists regard all of these as important aspects of language, and they are all studied in the various branches of Linguistics. This courses concentrates on sound, structure and meaning in the branches known as phonetics and phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics. Particular attention will be given to providing you with the tools necessary for the analysis of language, from its sounds, to its words, its sentences, discourse features and beyond, with reference both to English and to the principal Western European languages. Many of these topics can then be studied further in years 2 or 4 (e.g. syntax, phonology, morphology, discourse analysis etc.).

Special Features

This module provides a grounding in general linguistics for students who have already been introduced to the subject from a typically socio-oriented language-specific point of view in the first semester. Whilst the lectures serve to introduce, explain and explore key aspects of each of the sections of the module (sound - 4 sessions; structure - 4 sessions; meaning - 3 sessions), the seminars are intended to apply the knowledge in the form of exercises. Given that one of the main aims of this module is to familiarise students with a number of ‘tools of the trade’ (e.g. in phonetics with the IPA; in syntax with identification of segments of phrases and tree representation), much time is devoted to ‘demonstrating and doing’. Not only does this build up savoir-faire through practice and comment, but also it places much emphasis on methodology and working within a given approach or paradigm. Use of examples from European languages (in particular those studied at the University at Southampton) as well as English will enable students to enrich their understanding of the languages they use and study and will provide opportunities for experiencing the wider implications and usefulness of linguistics. Assignment tasks for each of the sections will serve to consolidate both knowledge and analytical skills as students are asked to investigate in depth specific elements. The end of module examination is intended to verify how certain notions, concepts and techniques have been taken on board and how these can be dealt with within the confines of the exam.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - 1 lecture and 1 seminar per week. Learning activities include - A series of specific assignments to be carried out (e.g. an investigative transcription for phonetics).

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

V. FROMKIN Victoria (2003). An Introduction to Language. 

Phonetics. For Phonetics, our in-house interactive Introduction to Phonetics for students of English, French, German and Spanish by R. Ball is available at the following address:



MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment  () 20%
Assignment  () 20%
Exam  (2 hours) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment  () 20%
Assignment  () 20%
Exam  (2 hours) 60%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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