PHIL/LING 145.001 – Language and Communication
Instructor: Min Tang. This course meets MTWRF 1:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. in DE 209.
Do all human languages share some universal features? Do human beings possess an innate language faculty? Are young children born with the innate language ability to make words conform to a grammatical template? Does the language we speak and write affect the way we represent space, time, and objects? Are the different representations of space, time, and objects due to the language we use or the culture we grow up with? What is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis? Does Whorf really claim that our thoughts are determined by our languages? How does thinking in a non-native language affect the way we make judgments and decisions? Do we tend to be more biased or less biased in our native languages?
In this course, we will explore a wide range of important and exciting topics at the forefront of debate in the philosophy of cognitive science, linguistics and mind. These topics include but are not limited to Chomsky’s universal grammar, generative grammar, language acquisition, language learning, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and the effects of language in spatial, temporal representations, object categorizations, and decision making. The course is intended for students with interests in philosophy, linguistics, or cognitive science. It presupposes no particular background in any of these domains. When scholarly texts, such as peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters are part of the curriculum, the instructor will engage with students and guide them through how to read and evaluate the contents. In addition to traditional scholarly materials, we will engage with an array of popular articles, works of fiction, movies, and documentaries to stimulate intellectual inquiry.