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SPE1034 : Linguistics and Phonetics I

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module contributes to a degree qualification in BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Sciences leading to a vocational qualification in Speech and Language Therapy, and covers relevant aspects of semantics and syntax and phonetic analysis.

The syntax part of the module teaches students how to analyse language structure. Aspects of both syntax and morphology will be discussed from the perspective of an adult-based, descriptive grammar of modern English. Reference will also be made to how grammar interacts with other linguistic components (e.g. semantics, pragmatics, phonology).

The semantics aspect provides an introduction to how meaning is expressed in language, with emphasis on the semantic properties of natural languages ('linguistic semantics') and how such properties can be applied to clinical assessment.

The goal of the semantics and syntax courses is to provide a grounding in the description and analysis of the grammar of an adult, native speaker of English, with the aim of applying such analysis to clients with language difficulties. The most language data will be from 'standard' English there will also be a discussion of regional dialects.

The phonetics unit aims to provide students with an introduction to the study of phonetics. It is devoted to learning about the human vocal mechanism, the sounds it can produce, and how those sounds can be classified in order to investigate how different groups of speakers use sounds differently. The aim is to look at how phonetics plays an important role in speech therapy.

Outline Of Syllabus


This comprises topics in both semantics and syntax:

1.Sentence meaning and propositions.
2.Thematic relations
3.Word meaning: sense and reference
4.Lexical relations.
5.Reference and deixis.
6.Clinical applications

1. Why study syntax: What is grammar? What is syntax? Why study it? Types of syntax;
prescriptive, descriptive, and mental grammars
2. Breaking up the sentence: Phrases / constituents, functions of phrases
3. The core of the sentence: the verb phrase; The role of the verb in choosing complements,Direct and indirect objects, Subject complements and object complements, Adverbials, Basic sentence types
4. Combining clauses I; conjunction and embedding
5. Combining clauses II; embedded and relative clause
6. Combining clauses III, introduction to LARSP analysis, Introduction to the Verb Complex
7. Focus on the verb complex; agreement, tense aspect, negation, modals
8. Focus on the noun phrase; structure of the noun phrase
9. Pronouns
10. Language and discourse; Questions, passives and clefts
11. Introduction to mental grammars; an introduction to generative and constructivist approaches to language structure.

Semantic and syntax will be integrated throughout the course. For example, a lecture with a semantics focus may be followed by a lecture with a syntax focus.


Most of the first semester is devoted to learning about the human vocal mechanism, the sounds it can produce, and how those sounds can be classified. In tutorials you will learn to distinguish and produce most the sounds of the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), using examples from a wide range of languages, and many accents of English.

Semester 2 work builds on the articulatory foundations of Semester 1, focussing on how speech sounds are used in fluent speech, and how different groups of speakers use sounds differently.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion220:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture301:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical111:0011:00for Phonetics
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical81:008:00for Linguistics
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1111:00111:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce new material and facilitate self-directed learning
Practicals are designed to for the students to practice phonetic skills and syntactic analysis.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601A12Phonetics - Written Examination
Written Examination601A25Linguistic - Written Examination
Written Examination602A13Phonetics Dictation - IN-HOUSE CLASS TEST organised by School
Written Examination602A25Linguistics - Written Examination
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M25Phonetics Group Project in teaching week 40: 5000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

- Written Examinations are used to assess both conceptual understanding, and ability to conduct semantic and syntactic analyses of linguistic stimuli.
- Written Examinations assess analytical abilities under time pressure, which is an important pre-requisite for the clinical elements of the course.

- Written examination assesses knowledge of key principles of phonetic analysis
- The Group Project requires students to exercise objective listening skills, and to explore their understanding of the factors that govern variability in speech.5000 words (excluding appendices and references).
- In-House Class Test assesses students' abilities to transcribe isolated and running speech accurately using the IPA conventions

Reading Lists