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SEL1028 : Introduction to the Structure of Language 2: Morphology and Meaning

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Gabriel Martinez Vera
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


To introduce the concepts and categories of linguistic morphology (the interface between syntax and phonology) and of semantics and pragmatics (linguistic meaning beyond the syntactic). The module will introduce the linguistic terminology used in the subfields of morphology, semantics and pragmatics, and will help the student to develop knowledge of the morphological and morphophonological variation shown by the world’s languages.

The module will also help to develop students’ abilities to undertake morphological, semantic and pragmatic analysis and argumentation.

In developing students' understanding of the applications of morphology, semantics and pragmatics in linguistic problem-solving, the module will provide a practical, analytical, and theoretical foundation for more advanced modules and independent study work handling these topics.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module builds on the foundations of syntax and phonology laid down in the first semester module SEL1027, examining (1) the relationship between syntax and phonology and (2) linguistic considerations that lie 'beyond the syntactic'. Throughout the module, teaching will explicitly address both the theory and the practice of linguistics, and will include applications of theoretical concepts to real-world data.

Two primary areas of human linguistic competence are investigated: morphology and semantics/pragmatics. Morphology (word formation) concerns the internal structure of words, including the ways in which new words are formed, and its study forms an interface between the core areas of syntax and phonology. This module explains and illustrates the basic concepts and distinctions used in morphology, such as inflectional and derivational processes, allomorphic variation and what conditions it, morphological typology and variation in the languages of the world, and the relationship between morphological processes and both syntax and phonology. Hands-on morphological analysis of data from English and from numerous other languages forms a central part of the module content. We also examine the historical processes leading to morphological change.

In examining linguistic aspects of meaning, the course first introduces those aspects of meaning that are determined by the syntax, such as quantification. It then moves on to discuss aspects of meaning where the syntax makes a contribution, including modal logic and truth conditions. Finally, the course deals with a discussion of pragmatics, including inference and conversational implicature and concludes by considering the distinction between semantics and pragmatics.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion145:0045:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading194:0094:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudySkills practice142:0028:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures deliver the basic concepts and principles involved, including their applications. All lectures deliver both analytical and practical tools for understanding language, its structure and its development. Small group seminars require the student to read ahead of the session and to undertake linguistic analysis of problem sets. These skills are also practised in advance of the seminar when data are examined and arguments are marshalled. The directed reading elements require the student to read the assigned materials carefully and to consider questions arising from the reading.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M45multi-part assignment consisting of morphology problem-sets (English + other languages) & short essay questions (about 1000 words)
Written exercise2A45multi-part assignment consisting of semantics/pragmatics problem-sets & short essay questions (about 1000 words)
Prob solv exercises2M10weekly "pop" quizzes on concepts, definitions, short problem sets in both Morphology and Meaning
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment focuses on the student's ability to handle complex data sets and to argue for specific solutions to problems relating to language structure, including problems of an analytical and practical nature. The assessments also test the student's ability to write clearly, concisely and unambiguously in English of an appropriate style.

Reading Lists