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Online course materials for GERM10040

Introduction to German Linguistics


Unit code: GERM10040
Credit Rating: 20
Unit level: Level 1
Teaching period(s): Full year
Offered by German Studies
Available as a free choice unit?: N

Requisites

None

Additional Requirements

Pre-requisite: A-level pass in German or equivalent (except for students taking GERM10100 at the same time)

Pathway:

Level 2: GERM20222 The German Language Today
Level 3: GERM30341 German Dialects

Aims

The first half of this course unit is designed to introduce students to basic concepts in phonetics and phonology, and to enable them to apply these in practical work on German and English. In the second semester we investigate word and sentence structure in German, as well as some aspects of word meaning and the major stylistic choices made by speakers and writers of the language. No prior knowledge of phonetics or linguistics is required.

Overview

The first part of this course unit (taking up all of Semester 1) provides an introduction to the sounds and sound structure of German, i.e. its phonetics and phonology. We begin by considering how speech sounds are made, and how they can be described and written down. This provides us with an opportunity to explore in what ways the sounds of German differ from those we find in English. In particular, we ask what difficulties English-speaking learners of German face in achieving a good accent and how to overcome them. The final part of the semester is taken up with an introduction to some basic concepts of phonology and a discussion of the relationship between phonetics and phonology.

In Semester 2 we focus on other key aspects of the German language. Our first topic here is sentence structure, and we will look at different ways of describing the patterns of German. This leads on to a discussion of word structure, helping us to untangle the sometimes bewildering array of forms and endings. How we make sense of individual words and how their meanings relate to each other, i.e. the study of semantics is the third major topic. We conclude the course unit with an investigation of register in German, exploring how we adapt our use of the language depending on whether we are speaking or writing, what we are communicating about, who we are communicating with and under what circumstances communication takes place.

Teaching and learning methods

One 1-hour lecture per week plus five 1-hour tutorials per semester

Language of teaching: English

Language of assessment: English

eLearning: A range of resources is available on Blackboard. These include copies of PowerPoint slides from lectures, handouts, detailed lecture notes and tutorial tasks, quizzes and mock exam questions with answers (Semester 1 only), and other supplementary materials to help students deepen their understanding of the topics covered, provide opportunities for practical work and support them in their revision and preparation for both exams.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the first part of this course unit, students will be able to:
 

  • Explain how speech sounds are produced
  • Describe the CONSONANTS and VOWELS of English and German by giving them phonetic descriptions and discuss the differences between the SOUND INVENTORIES of the two languages as well as the differences in the DISTRIBUTION of these sounds
  • Produce the sounds of German accurately and with confidence
  • Use the IPA SYMBOLS for the sounds of English and German and transcribe individual German words by means of IPA symbols
  • Define and discuss basic phonological concepts such as PHONE, PHONEME, ALLOPHONE, PHONEMIC vs. (BROAD) PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION, COMPLEMENTARY DISTRIBUTION and FREE VARIATION

 

On successful completion of the second part of this course unit, students will be able to:
 

  • Analyse German sentences in terms of PHRASE STRUCTURE and write the PHRASE STRUCTURE RULES necessary to generate such sentences
  • Define VALENCY and identify the valency of common verbs
  • Describe the major syntactic functions, e.g. SUBJECT, ACCUSATIVE OBJECT and DATIVE OBJECT and how these relate to CASE in German
  • Explain the principles of word order in German and define central concepts such as SATZRAHMEN, VORFELD, MITTELFELD and NACHFELD
  • Define the concepts of MORPH, MORPHEME and ALLOMORPH and describe how words may be analysed in terms of their grammatical structure
  • Describe the basic structure of the German tense system and how the tenses are used
  • Explain what is meant by LEXICAL SEMANTICS, SEMANTIC/LEXICAL FIELD, SENSE RELATIONS, SYNONYMY, HYPONYMY, POLYSEMY and HOMONYMY
  • Define the three main registers of German and describe them in terms of their linguistic features

Assessment methods

  • Other - 30%
  • Written exam - 70%

Assessment Further Information

Semester 1:

  1. Continuous assessment of tutorial contributions (30%)
  2. 1-hour written examination at the end of Semester 1 (70%). Students will answer all ten questions.

 

Semester 2:

  1. Continuous assessment of tutorial contributions (30%)
  2. 1.5-hour written examination at the end of Semester 2 (70%). Students will be expected to answer two questions from a choice of six.


Language of assessment: English 10040

 

Syllabus

The first part of this course unit (taking up all of Semester 1) provides an introduction to the sounds and sound structure of German, i.e. its phonetics and phonology. We begin by considering how speech sounds are made, and how they can be described and written down. This provides us with an opportunity to explore in what ways the sounds of German differ from those we find in English. In particular, we ask what difficulties English-speaking learners of German face in achieving a good accent and how to overcome them. The final part of the semester is taken up with an introduction to some basic concepts of phonology and a discussion of the relationship between phonetics and phonology.

In Semester 2 we focus on other key aspects of the German language. Our first topic here is sentence structure, and we will look at different ways of describing the patterns of German. This leads on to a discussion of word structure, helping us to untangle the sometimes bewildering array of forms and endings. How we make sense of individual words and how their meanings relate to each other, i.e. the study of semantics is the third major topic. We conclude the course unit with an investigation of register in German, exploring how we adapt our use of the language depending on whether we are speaking or writing, what we are communicating about, who we are communicating with and under what circumstances communication takes place.

Recommended reading

For Semester 1:

 

Set text: Hall, Christopher. 2003. Modern German pronunciation: an introduction for speakers of English. 2nd edn. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Further reading: Collins, Beverley & Inger M. Mees. 2008. Practical phonetics and phonology: a resource book for students. 2nd edn. London: Routledge; Crystal, David. 2008. A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics. 6th edn. Oxford: Blackwell; Knight, Rachael-Anne. 2012. Phonetics: a coursebook. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; McMahon, April. 2002. An introduction to English phonology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press; Roach, Peter. 2009. English phonetics and phonology. 4th edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

For Semester 2:

Further reading: Aitchison, Jean. 2003. Linguistics. 6th edn. London: Hodder Arnold; Crystal, David. 2008. A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics. 6th edn. Oxford: Blackwell; Durrell, Martin. 2011. Hammer’s German grammar and usage. 5th edn. London: Hodder Education; Durrell, Martin, Katrin Kohl, Claudia Kaiser & Gudrun Loftus. 2015. Essential German Grammar. 2nd edn. Abingdon and New York: Routledge; Fox, Anthony. 2005. The structure of German. 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press; Fromkin, Victoria A., Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams. 2007. An introduction to language. 8th edn. Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth; Gross, Harro. 1998. Einführung in die germanistische Linguistik. 3rd edn. revised by Klaus Fischer. Munich: iudicium-Verlag; Hudson, Richard A. 1984. Invitation to linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell.

Feedback methods

Nature and Timing of Feedback:

  • Global feedback on tutorial submissions at the beginning of each tutorial
  • Individual feedback on tutorial submissions to students who ask questions about their particular solutions during tutorials
  • Individual (automated) feedback to students who complete mock exam questions and quizzes on Blackboard (Semester 1 only)
  • Individual feedback on exam technique and subject competence to students who send in their answer(s) to up to two previous years’ exam question at least three working days before the exam (Semester 2 only)
  • Individual feedback to students who arrange to discuss their exam paper with the convenor (both semesters)

Study hours

  • Lectures - 23 hours
  • Tutorials - 10 hours
  • Independent study hours - 167 hours

Teaching staff

Wiebke Brockhaus-Grand - Unit coordinator

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