Linguistics Course Descriptions


LIN 101:         Introduction to Linguistics I          3 Credits

The course is a general introduction to linguistics, its scope and application. It covers such issues as the origin, nature, structure, and use of language, and the relation of human language to animal language. The course will also introduce the students to some of the major subfields of linguistics like morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and sociolinguistics. A large number of special terms and concepts shall also be introduced. At the end of the course the students will be equipped with the basic tools for the analysis of language structures and for future studies in language theory.

LIN 102:         Introduction to Linguistics II                    3 Credits

The course is a continuation of LIN 101. It builds on the foundation of LIN 101 to introduce the students to additional subfields of linguistics like neurolinguistics, language acquisition, language processing, writing systems, language change, and language classification. Like in LIN 101, additional special terms and concepts shall also be introduced. At the end of the course the students will have acquired additional tools of the relevant subfields and will also be in the position to undertake intermediate to more advanced courses in any one of the subfields.


LIN 131:         Introduction to Phonetics                          3 Credits

This course is a general introduction to phonetics. It is generally divided into three parts. The first part, introduction to phonetics, gives a brief description of acoustic,  auditory, and forensic phonetics, examines the nature of the organs of speech and the process of speech production; it also introduces the students to the classification of speech sounds in terms of their process of production. The second part involves practice in the recognition, classification, reproduction, and transcription of speech sounds of English and any other Nigerian or African language. At the end of the course the students should be in the position to easily and actively participate in any more advanced courses in phonetics.

LIN 132:             Introduction to Phonology                    2 Credits

The course builds on the foundation laid in LIN 103 to introduce the students to phonology, the study of the sound patterns of language. In addition to giving an overview of the major differences between phonetics and phonology, the courses also introduces the students to different aspects of phonology like phonological units, minimal pairs and complementary distribution, syllable structure etc. At the end of the course the student should be in a position to actively participate in more advanced courses in phonology.


LIN 151:         History of Linguistics                                 2 Credits                                                              

This course provides knowledge of the historical development of linguistics as a scientific discipline from the Greek days to the present. It focuses attention on the various schools and models, and outstanding persons, who have helped to shape the discipline. Attention is also paid to the contributions to language study by linguists and institutions in Nigeria.

LIN 111:         Elementary Igbo/Other Nigerian Languages I                                                                                                     2 Credit

This is an introductory course that assumes no prior knowledge of the Igbo Language. It therefore introduces the students to the Igbo alphabet and writing system. Basic terms such as names of things, counting system etc will be handled in addition to simple grammatical structures, use of ‘na’, ‘ga’, and other function words found in Igbo.


LIN 112:         Elementary Igbo/Other Nigerian Languages II                                                                                                  2 Credits

This is a continuation of LIN 106 with more emphasis on grammatical patterns and dialect variation. The principal units to be covered include: word, multiword expressions, phrase, clause and sentence. The course will also include some practice with the acquired grammatical units in the form of compositional exercises and cross-dialectal translations


LIN 152:         Languages of the World                            2 Credits

This is a survey of the linguistic descriptions of selected languages throughout the world. Such a survey will emphasize outstanding and linguistically interesting features of the languages.


LIN 17:           Language and Culture                              2 Credits

The course introduces the students to the use of language as a source of information in the general study of “culture”. It covers such issues as cultural meanings and categories, linguistic relativity, ‘Eskimos and snow’, gender and complementary schismogenesis. The course not only introduces these concepts, but also relates them to Nigerian languages and cultures. At the end of the course the students should be able to follow and participate in any more advanced courses in anthropological linguistics.


LIN 231:         Phonology                                                  2 Credits

This course builds on the aspects of phonology that were introduced in LIN 104. It introduces the student to the different views of the phoneme and the syllable and the application of these views to language data. The identified views include: the ‘cognitive’ angle, natural phonology, the phonemic theory, and the distinctive feature theory.


LIN 241:         An Introduction to the Mental Lexicon   2 Credits

The fact that the term ‘lexicon’ has grown from a topic of minor interest to a major issue can be connected with the following two questions that have increasingly preoccupied researchers for a long time now: (1) How are human beings able to store the thousands of words of their language in their mind? (2) How are human beings able to find or select the exact words they need from the immense quantity of words in their mind? The course is an introduction to the answers to these questions. Such issues as the human ‘word store’, the modeling of the mental lexicon, semantic network, semantic primitives, and the organization of the mental lexicon, and much more shall be covered. The course equips the student with the basic issues and concepts connected with the human mental lexicon.


LIN 261:         Morphology                                                2 Credits

The course is divided into two parts. The first part is a theory neutral examination and elaboration of the diversity of morphological patterns introduced in LIN 102. It however goes beyond the simple identification of morphemes and types of morphemes to introduce the students to the range of the many descriptive problems in morphology. The second part introduces the students to some of the theoretical approaches to morphology. At the end of the course the students should be able to go into more advanced issues in the ever expanding field of morphology.



LIN 262:         Morphology of African Languages          2 Credits

This course is an application of the knowledge acquired in LIN 203 to the analysis of morphological data from selected African languages (e. g. Bantu). It involves the examination of the morphological realization of specific linguistic phenomena in the selected languages.


LIN 242:         Semantics                                                    2 Credits

The course examines semantics as a core discipline of linguistics. It goes beyond giving the students an overview of the field to familiarizing them with the concepts and analytical tools of the discipline through practical exercises. At the end of the course the students should be able to initiate research questions and formulate their own answers about semantics.


LIN 281:     Writing Systems and Orthography Design

                                                                                             2 Credits

The course is made up of a theoretical and a practical part. The theoretical part builds on the knowledge of writing systems acquired in LIN 102. It however goes further into the the history of writing, the different writing systems, and the relation between language and literacy. The practical part focuses on the role of the linguist in describing and developing the orthography of an unwritten language. Students shall acquire practical training based on the framework of the orthographies of different Nigerian languages.


LIN 243:         Introduction to Lexicology and Lexicography                                                                                                   2 Credits

The course introduces the students to the two related fields of lexicology and lexicography. In the lexicology part the course builds on the works on English and German lexicology to explore the possibility of the lexicology of Nigerian languages. The lexicography part introduces the students to the general issues in dictionary research, especially to the core areas of dictionary structure, dictionary typology, dictionary criticism, and dictionary use.



LIN 211:         Introduction to Igbo Phonology                2 Credits

This is an introduction to the Igbo sound system. Focus is on the Igbo articulatory phonetics, segmental and supra-segmental phonemes (tones), tone marking, aspiration, nasalization, palatalization etc. At the end of the course the students will be able to describe Igbo segmental phonemes according to place and manner of articulation and the condition of the vocal cords, consonants, vowel chart, vowel harmony, vowel elision and assimilation.


LIN 222:  Introduction to Grammatical Categories       2 Credits

‘Grammatical category’ has been used to refer to a wide variety of linguistic phenomena. The approach to the phenomena is twofold. The course first introduces the students to the concept of grammatical category and to the different grammatical categories like parts of speech, tense, aspect, mood and modality, number, case, gender, etc. Thereafter, each grammatical category shall be explored from a cross-linguistic perspective; this would involve comparing the realization of the particular categories in different languages.


LIN 282:         Composition/Writing Skills                       2 Credits

The course is divided into three parts. The first part is a revision of basic punctuation marks and paragraph development skills. The second part involves explicit application of the skills acquired in part. Students shall first be exposed here to samples of narrative, descriptive, expository, and argumentative types of essays, from which they shall learn the features of each type, to be followed by exercises in the different types of essays. The third part is on letter writing. The same procedure as in part two shall be adopted, to be concluded with exercises in informal and formal letter writing.


LIN 321:         Introduction to Syntax                               2 Credits

The course is a practice-based introduction to syntax. It not only introduces the students to the basic concepts in syntactic analysis, but also equips them with the skills and techniques in syntactic description and analysis with data from typologically different languages. In addition, one specific issue in syntactic analysis shall be used to introduce the students to different syntactic theories. The aim is to demonstrate to them how the particular issue is handled within the different syntactic theories. This approach would prepare the students for future work with any of the different syntactic theories.


LIN 322:         Generative Syntax                                      2 Credits

This is an introduction to the history and practice of the generative transformational model with emphasis on the explanation of the basic assumptions and concepts postulated in the model (e. g. deep and surface structures, lexicon, base and transformational rules). It also involves the practical applications of these assumptions and concepts in the analysis of phonological, morphological and syntactic data.


LIN 381:         Survey of Applied Linguistics                   2 Credits

Applied linguistics is the academic discipline that is concerned with the relation of knowledge about language to practical issues/decisions in the real world.  The course introduces the students to such issues as when, how and where general linguistics can be applied to practical issues and to the non-linguistic fields. Such uses include language and education, language and work, language and law; language and information management.


LIN 383:         Field Methods, Research Methodology, and Research Presentation                            2 Credits                                                    

The course covers the three main areas of Field Methods, Research Methodology, and the techniques of Research/Academic Paper presentation. The first part introduces the students to the theoretical and practical aspects of fieldwork like data collection and analysis, as well as to the methods of interlinear glossing. This part shall be concluded with a mini fieldwork assignment. The second part of the course, research methodology, equips the students with the basics of research method and also introduces them to the different bibliographical styles like MLA, LSA and APA. This part of the course would involve practical exercises in research project design and in the formating of bibliographic information according to the rules of specific stylesheets. Finally, the third part of the course equips the students with the techniques of academic paper presentation. It introduces them to the use of handouts, overhead projectors, and powerpoint in academic paper presentation. At the end of this part each student shall make a 10 minutes presentation that is based on his/her fieldwork findings; the documentation of the presentation shall be in line with the knowledge acquired in the research methodology part of the course.


LIN 372:         Introduction to Sociolinguistics                 2 Credits

The course is an introduction to the history, methodology, basic concepts, applications, and current issues in sociolinguistics. It considers the relationship between language and society, variations and attitudes towards language varieties and social dialects, language and social organization, language ideology, and multilingualism.


LIN 331:         Generative Phonology                               2 Credits

This is an introduction to the principles of generative phonology and the theory of distinctive features. Emphasis is on the treatment of phonological processes and rules within the generative framework.


LIN 312:         Introduction to African Linguistics          2 Credits

The course examines the findings of various works on African languages with special reference to information on structural characteristics, both phonological and grammatical. At the end of the course the students should have a good knowledge of the phonological and structural variation in African languages.


LIN 385:         Error/Contrastive Analysis                       2 Credits

LIN 308 has two main parts, the theoretical part and the practical part. The theoretical part introduces the students to the classification of languages by the criterion of function. It further introduces the students to the theoretical basis of language comparism, and the principles and goals of Error and Contrastive Analysis. The practical part provides the students with the opportunity to apply the principles of Error and Contrastive Analysis to the English Language and a Nigerian Language.




LIN 387: Introduction to Documentary Linguistics       2 Credits

This course introduces the students to the principles of documenting endangered languages, and genres of not seriously endangered languages (which have lost widespread use). Emphasis will be laid on techniques and methods of working with illiterate and monolingual consultants, and the use of audio-visual equipment and computer software for data collection and annotation. Students will be required to do a mini documentation project as a part of the course.


LIN 38:                       Stylistics                                          2 Credits

This course builds on LIN 210 to introduce the students to the elements of style and stylistics in written texts. With their knowledge of the core areas of semantics, morphology, phonology and semantics, the students are introduced to the relationship between stylistics and these levels of language. The first part of the course introduces the students to stylistics in general and also demonstrates to them how style violates some of the rules of grammar they have learnt up to this point. The second part is practice-oriented and involves the analysis of styles of different literary texts to establish which levels of language and predominantly manipulated by the author(s).


LIN 384: Introduction to Computational Linguistics    2 Credits

The Course will be a general introduction to computational linguistics. Its aim is to

  • familiarize students with issues relating to natural language and computers
  • give the students a rough overview of the subfields of computational linguistics
  • Equip the student with the basis for examining linguistic problems from the perspectives of computational linguistics
  • illustrate the key principles of natural language processing by using a programming language like Python

The course will be oriented towards hands-on experience of text processing techniques, using the NLTK-Lite library. NLTK is based on Python, and a brief introduction to Python will be provided at the start of the clas.


LIN 386:         Introduction to Corpus Linguistics          2 Credits

In this course the students shall be introduced to the basics of corpus linguistics. The course shall be divided into two main parts. The first part shall cover such issues as the development of corpus linguistics in general as well as its relevance to an African language like Igbo. To this part belongs such issues as corpus and linguistic theories and corpus-based research in linguistics. The second part is practical. It shall involve the introduction to the use of specific corpus manipulation software, as well as the practice of definite corpus linguistics techniques like concordancing, word frequency etc. At the end of the course the student should be in the position to build his/her own corpus and apply the acquired corpus linguistics techniques.


LIN 341: Introduction to Cognitive Linguistics              2 Credits

The course introduces the students to the ‘new’ discipline that has come to be known as “Cognitive Linguistics”.  This involves exploring the ways in which this discipline has influenced the investigation of semantics, syntax and vocabulary, as well as the connection between language, culture and mind. The course is divided into three parts: (1) an overview of Cognitive Linguistics, (2) Cognitive Semantics, and (3) Cognitive Approaches to Grammar. At the end of the course the students should be in the position to not only follow more advanced topics within the Cognitive Linguistics framework, but should also be able to initiate their own research efforts.


LIN 388:         Introduction to Second Language Acquisition                               2 Credits

Second language acquisition (SLA) is concerned with the question of how second languages are learned. The field is usually approached from a wide range of disciplines: sociology, psychology, education, and linguistics. Although it is a relatively new field of study, SLA has gradually developed into an independent and autonomous discipline, complete with its own research agenda as well as related journals like Studies in Second Language Acquisition, Language Learning and Second Language Research. The course introduces the students to the multidisciplinary nature of the field, but with a focus on the learning of Nigerian languages.


LIN 343:         Pragmatics                 2 Credits                                                                             

Linguistic pragmatics refers to those aspects of language use that are important for understanding language as a system and also for understanding meaning. The course introduces the students to the central topics in pragmatics and the relation between pragmatics and other areas of linguistics. At the end of the course the students should be able to take up more advanced issues in pragmatics.


LIN 324:         Cognitive Grammar              2 Credits                                                             

The condition for participation in this course is a successful completion of LIN 314. Cognitive Grammar is a ‘new’ theory of language that is yet to be applied in the analysis of Nigerian languages. The course not only introduces students to the central concepts of the theory, but also applies them to a range of topics like semantics, syntax, morphology, and phonology. At the end of the course the students should be in a position to initiate and engage in the examination of the structures of Nigerian languages from the Cognitive Grammar perspective.


LIN 431:         Topics in Phonology              3 Credits                                                              

This course examines selected topics of relevance or currency in phonology. It involves a critical examination and discussion of research papers on the relevant topics.


LIN 421:         Topics in Syntax                                3 Credits                                                                     

The prerequisites for this course are LIN 301 and LIN 302. The course examines the syntactic treatment of topics of relevance and currency. Students shall be engaged in critical examination and discussion of the research papers on the relevant topics.


LIN 461:         Issues in Multilingualism                  3 Credits                                                       

In a multilingual nation such as Nigeria, there are a variety of linguistic issues which have social, cultural and even political implications. These include the problems of national languages, official orthographies, languages to be taught in schools and the general problems of language policy and language planning, as well as the place of pidgin and creole in Nigeria. These problems and related ones are identified, studied and analyzed in this course.


LIN 441:         Topics in Semantics               3 Credits                                                                

The course is focused on the examination of current issues in semantics that have generated international interest and discussion. Some of the topics include linguistic semantics, polysemy, spatial semantics, etc. Although the focuses of the majority of the writings on such issues have been European languages, the issues shall be examined and related to Nigerian languages (e.g. Igbo).


LIN 452:         Historical/Comparative Linguistics        3 Credits                                      

Language change, also called historical linguistics, is a phenomenon that cuts across various levels of language. It has often led to a lot of reactions, including the comment that language change is a symptom of decay. The course introduces students to such issues as evidence for language change, how the changes take place, why changes occur, how languages begin and end. At the end of the course the students should be able to identify, compare, and analyze various signs of language change in any Nigerian language.


LIN 462:         Dialectology              3 Credits                                                                            

The course is a general introduction to dialectology. The students are first acquainted with the basic concepts of dialectology and the history of dialectology. Thereafter, they are further introduced to the additional issues of dialect geography, variability, and cohesion in the position to undertake basic research in dialectology.


LIN 443:         Lexicography             3 Credits                                                                       

The course introduces the students to the basic concepts of lexicography. Topics to be covered include: the history of lexicography, lexicology and lexicography, the lexicography of African languages, foreign-culture-lexicography and native-culture-lexicography, facts and fictions about words, relation between words and polysemy problems, lexical entry, dictionary use and dictionary users, macrostructure, microstructure, dictionary typology, special purpose dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, making dictionaries, dictionary making tools, dictionary publication.


LIN 442:         Psycholinguistics                                        3 Credits                                                                   

The main objective of psycholinguistics is to understand how the human mind supports the learning, comprehension, and production of language. This can be divided into the three main areas of language decoding, language encoding, and storage of linguistic knowledge. Psycholinguistics goes into these issues by examining the evidence from animal communication, child language, language of normal adults, and the speech of dysphasics.


LIN 482:         Theory and Practice of Translation         3 Credits                                   

The course is divided into a theoretical and a practical part. To be examined in the theoretical part are the linguistic theories of translation, translation and interpretation, concept formation, technical translation, and bilingual translation. The practical part involves the actual execution of different types of translations.


LIN 492:         Project/Long Essay                                    3 Credits                                                              

This is the application of linguistic principles to a piece of practical work on a Nigerian language, resulting in a project report.