LING 404 - Phonology I

Updated: September 19, 2007

Basic Information

Instructor Information

Instructor: Elizabeth J. Pyatt

Office Location: 210 Rider II (Downtown on White Loop)
Official Office Hours: Mon 4-5 or by appointment
Office Phone: 865-0805 (with Voicemail)

Class Meeting Times

Location: 144 Fenske
Times: T R 9:45-11:00

First Meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 28

Required Texts

  1. Understanding Phonology (Main) , Carlos Gussenhoven and Haike Jacobs
  2. Electronic Reserves (links will be in ANGEL)
  3. One language textbook (details provided in first day of class - Do NOT purchase yet)

Class Blog

Read the LING 404 Blog for class announcements.

Course Requirements Summarized

Requirements by Percentage and Points
Reqirements Percentage Details

11 Problem Sets (Drop 1)

45% Data Analysis, Blog Journal, Adopt-A-Language
Homeworks are due in class each Thursday.
Late Assignments are reduced by 3 points.
Midterm 20% Weeks 1-6, Matching, Short Answer, Fill in the Blank
Final Exam 25% Take Home Exam for second part of Course. Data Analysis and one Adopt-A-Language Essay Question.
Participation/Attendance 10%  

Adopt A Language

Adopt a Language is a research activity where you will purchase a low-cost language textbook for a language you are unfamiliar with and apply simple phonological analyses to the data found within the textbook in a blog journal.

See Where to Find Language Textbooks for more details.

Activating Blogs

You will be asked to use the Blogs at Penn State system this semester for your Adopt a Language journals (accounts will be assigned to you).

Before you can use the Blogs at Penn State you must activate your Personal Web Space by filling out the form at

Additional instructions will be provided in the first week of class.

Why Phonology?

Course Objectives

This is an introductory phonetics and phonology course focusing on basic analysis of linguistic data. By the end of this class you should be able to do the following

Some Practical Uses of Phonology

  1. Understand mechanics behind foreign language sounds so that you can hear/pronounce them better
  2. Teach others mechanics behind English/non-English sounds so they can hear/pronounce them better
  3. Understand reasons for non-standard pronunciations and be better able to appreciate their unique cultural quirkiness
  4. Used to reconstruct historical sound change and decipher new scripts
  5. Critical for fieldwork of under-documented or undocumented languages
  6. Assist speakers of unwritten languages to develop usable writing system for their language
  7. Can be used determine position of word breaks and syntactic constituency
  8. Use the IPA to write out pronunciations of unusual words.
  9. IPA used in many foreign language dictionaries.

And don't forget possibilities for

  1. Becoming a dialect coach
  2. Creating artificial languages
  3. Writing out pronunciations for names not in your language

Problem Sets

There will be 11 problem sets (drop lowest grade), which together are worth 45% of your grade.

Late Assignments

Assignments turned in after the due date, but before the Answer keys are distributed will lose 3 points total. Partial assignments can be turned in on the due date  for full credit and  the rest turned in with reduced credit.

Attendance and Participation


This will count for 5% of your final grade. In order to get practice with phonological analysis, sample problems will be worked out in class and students will be listen to audio samples in class and will practice non-English sounds out loud. Frequent attendance and participation is therefore encouraged in order to learn the material more effectively.

Participation points will be added for

Points will be subtracted for:

The instructor is not obliged to point out each instance.

Excused Absences

If you know you need to skip a class due to a religious holiday, athletic event or travel for any curricular reason (e.g. a conference, debate, field trip or club event), you should notify me at least one week in advance. If notified, these will count as excused absences

Valid medical and family emergencies may also be excused absences, although documentation may be requested in some cases.


Academic Integrity

College of Liberal Arts

Penn State defines academic integrity as the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. All students should act with personal integrity, respect other students’ dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts (Faculty Senate Policy 49-20).

Dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated in this course.

Dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students. Students who are found to be dishonest will receive academic sanctions and will be reported to the University's Judicial Affairs office for possible further disciplinary sanction.

The instructor reserves the right to use plagiarism detection tools if needed.

Plagiarism and Linguistics Assignments

Problem Sets

Working with a classmate or asking for advice of others (including myself) is acceptable, but all words must be your own. Problem sets are generally given out on a Thursday and are due the next Thursday.


Your data sources should be limited to basic grammars which have been preapproved by the instructor.

Use of linguistically oriented material such as linguistic grammars, Wikipedia, articles or handbooks may be considered an instance of academic dishonestly as this circumvents the process of doing your own analysis from raw data.  Quality of analysis from available data, not "correctness" will be counted.

Disability Access Statement

The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified people with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities and is committed to the policy that all people shall have equal access to programs, facilities, and admissions without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation in this course or have questions about physical access, please tell the instructor as soon as possible.


Chapters in "Readings" refer to main textbook (Understanding Phonology by Gussenhaven & Jacobs) unless otherwise specified.

Week 1 (Aug 28, Aug 30)

Week 2 (Sep 4, Sep 6)

Week 3 (Sep 11, Sep 13)

Week 4 (Sep 18, Sep 20)

Week 5 (Sep 25, Sep 27)

Week 6 (Oct 2, Oct 4)

Week 7 (Oct 9, Oct 11)

Week 8 (Oct 16, Oct 18)

Week 9 (Oct 23, Oct 25)

Week 10 (Oct 30, Nov 1)

Week 11 (Nov 6, Nov 8)

Week 12 (Nov 13, Nov 15)

Week 13 (Nov 20, Nov 22)

Week 14 (Nov 27, Nov 29)

Week 15 (Dec 4, Dec 6)

Week 16 (Dec 11, Dec 13)


Last Update: September 19, 2007