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Undergraduate Seminar in Language & Linguistics


Forensic Linguistics studies how our scientific understanding of language interfaces with legal practice. It addresses a range of problems where linguistic knowledge is helpful, e.g., the linguistically substantiated interpretation of legal language, the analysis of written samples to determine authorship, or the analysis of written and spoken evidence to capture serial killers. This course surveys of the field and introduces students into the world of the forensic linguist as a resource to legal practitioners and as an expert witness.

It is established that the Romance languages as we know them today evolved from a common ancestor: the Latin language.  Through the passage of time and via the expansion of the Roman Empire throughout Europe, the language spoken across the various geographical regions diverged from Latin and became distinct from it.  On the Iberian Peninsula, the predominant languages today are Spanish (Castilian) and Portuguese.  The aim of this course is twofold: the evolution of Ibero-Romance apart from the rest of Latin Europe, and the historical decomposition of Ibero-Romance into Spanish, Portuguese, and – to a limited extent – other Romance languages on the Iberian Peninsula.

Upon completion of this course, the student will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the current state of the Ibero-Romance language sub-family and the relationships among Ibero-Romance languages, including less-studied varieties
  • Be familiar with the major linguistic changes which gave rise to the Ibero-Romance languages as they are today, including but not limited to:
    • The origins of Ibero-Romance through eras of conquest
    • Phonological evolution from Latin to early Ibero-Romance, then to Spanish and Portuguese
    • Morphosyntactic changes from antiquity to the present
    • Divergence in syntactic properties of Spanish and Portuguese, especially cliticization and word order
    • Lexical divergence through antiquity

Students will apply what they learned in SPAN 376 through new methods of acoustic phonetics. Students will learn how to make sonograms to graphically represent the sounds of Spanish native speakers. Each student will complete a course project in which she/he records native speakers and analyzes their sound system.

Requisites: Prerequisite, SPAN 360 or 376 or permission of instructor
Repeat rules: May be repeated for credit. 9 total credits. 3 total completions.