Singapore University of Social Sciences

Discovering Language

Discovering Language (ELG101)


ELG101 Discovering Language is an introduction to the study of language and major branches of Linguistics. Students will be exposed to systematic ways of thinking about everyday creative use of language and to means of analysing language data to discover how language works through its sounds, words, structure and use. The course provides ample opportunities to do linguistic analysis, such as discerning patterns in the use of certain linguistic features and how these patterns correlate with formality in a particular social setting. Through data-based tasks, this course will help students develop analytic, problem-solving, and critical and creative thinking skills. The course does not presuppose any prior knowledge of Linguistics. It will equip students with foundational concepts and skills that can be applied to further explorations of language use in their everyday communication and professional contexts.

Level: 1
Credit Units: 5
Presentation Pattern: EVERY REGULAR SEMESTER


  • What is language? (Fundamental properties of human language)
  • How do we use words to make meaning? (Lexical Semantics)
  • How do we form words? (Morphology)
  • How do we categorise words? (Word Class)
  • How do we put words together to form phrases and sentences? (Syntax: Form)
  • How do we recognise grammar rules? (Syntax: Function)
  • What are speech sounds and how do we represent them? (Phonetics – IPA)
  • How are speech sounds combined to form words? (Phonetics and Phonology)
  • How do we use language in context? (Pragmatics and Discourse)
  • Why do we vary the ways we use language? (Sociolinguistics)
  • Do speakers of different languages think differently? (Language, Thought and Culture)
  • How do children learn language? (Language Acquisition)

Learning Outcome

  • Recognise the nature of human language and make sense of how language works through its components.
  • Define key concepts in the core areas of linguistics and their connections to language-related issues.
  • Identify basic ways of doing linguistic analysis and uncovering patterns and trends in language use.
  • Demonstrate basic skills for performing linguistic analysis and persuasively communicating findings from the analysis.
  • Explain how language is used creatively and productively in everyday life.
  • Apply knowledge about the structure, meaning and use of language to new data to reveal possible new patterns and trends.
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