An Invented Language Project for the Introductory Linguistics Classroom

Skye Anderson is a graduate student in Linguistics at the University of Arizona; her research are the phonology and morphology of Semitic languages, speech perception and corpus linguistics. She started studying Linguistics when she realized all of her invented languages had words for aardvark, but no grammar.

Shannon Bischoff is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Linguistics at Purdue University Fort Wayne. His Ph.D. is in Formal and Anthropological Linguistics with a minor in Computational Linguistics. His research interests include English and Spanish in Puerto Rico; English as a language barrier to minority and endangered language communities; language documentation, revitalization; formal and computational approaches to language; and Indigenous languages of the Americas. He has been teaching using language invention since 2006.

Amy Fountain is an Associate Professor, NTE, in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Her Ph.D. is in Anthropology and Linguistics. Her research interests are in language endangerment, documentation, and revitalization, and the indigenous languages of the Americas. She has been teaching freshmen about linguistics using language invention since 2006, and is always learning new things about language, and students, because of it.

Jeffrey Punske is an Assistant Professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He earned his PhD in Linguistics in 2012 from the University of Arizona. His research focuses on morphosyntax. He teaches courses on invented languages, syntax, semantics, historical linguistics, phonology, among other topics. He previously taught at the University of Oklahoma and Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. He is frequently bow-tied.

Abstract

This paper presents a brief description of a constructed language project developed for the introductory to linguistics/language classroom. The paper describes the project, its history of development and use, and provides links to sample syllabuses, the project outline, and student project examples. The project described has been used with thousands of students at three different universities. Developed for a large lecture-style setting with up to 500 students at a major research university enrolling over 30,000 students, the project has been taken to a smaller research university (12,000 students) and a metropolitan university (13,000 students), where it has been implemented in a variety of undergraduate courses. The project has been used as a means to introduce basic linguistic concepts to the non-major in a general education setting. In addition, it is currently being piloted in a course on typology. These applications demonstrate the versatility of the project as tool for a variety of linguistic classrooms.

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