LINGUIST List 8.779

Sat May 24 1997

Sum: Lg & Culture/Lgs of the World

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. Toshihide Nakayama, SUM: course ideas - Lg & Culture, Lgs of the World

Message 1: SUM: course ideas - Lg & Culture, Lgs of the World

Date: Fri, 23 May 97 22:56:09 -0700
From: Toshihide Nakayama <>
Subject: SUM: course ideas - Lg & Culture, Lgs of the World

Dear everyone,

A while ago I asked for help with the courses I am going to teach,
_Languages of the World_ and _Language and Culture_.

This is a belated summary of responses I got. I'd like to thank the
following people for the time they took to give me help:

	Andrej A. Kibrik
	Keith Denning
	Noel Rude
	Yuphaphann Hoonchamlong
	Ellen Contini-Morava
	Nicholas Ostler
	Matthew S Dryer
	Alessandro Duranti
	Madeline Maxwell
**** For the _Languages of the World_ course ****

>From Andrej A. Kibrik:

A friend of mine in Moscow who is teaching Languages of the WOrld has
written a book with the same title, based on his teaching
experience. It is addressed, though to a broader audience, like high
school students, but you might find a lot of handy information
there. THe only (but big) problem is that it is in Russian.

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>From Noel Rude:

 A number of years ago I helped develop an intro-level
undergrad course titled "Languages of the World". The course sprang
from the observation that in our obsession with scientific principles
most of our students were terribly ignorant of basic facts. It seemed
good that they should know something about Bantu. In all our other
courses we teach principles, methodology, how to DO linguistics, and
this is good. But we were old fashioned. We thought students ought
to know some specific facts too.

 The course was organized according to three criteria: 1)
Typology (tone lgs., obstruent typologies, the Schleicherian
typologies, areal phenomena like serialization, etc.), 2) Genetic
relationships (students ought to know about Indo-European,
Sino-Tibetan, Bantu, Sumerian, the diversity in the Americas and New
Guinea, etc.), and 3) Geography (divide the world into regions and
learn something specific about each).

 There was a packet of handouts and an article or two, and we
used the two books edited by Timothy Shopen (Languages and their
Status, forget the name of the other) to gave students the opportunity
to look at some "exotic" languages.

 I feel the course was a success. But alas it's a struggle.
Many students resist knowing specific facts about the world. They
want to rap about urban situations, languages in contact, language
planning problems--they don't want to know about Dravidian or where
Gilyak is spoken or the spread of Bantu. I may sound cynical, but I
still think the effort is worthwhile.

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>From Yuphaphann Hoonchamlong:

For Lgs of the World's textbook: Bernard Comrie's "The world's major
languages. Ethnologue database also is interesting (located at

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>From Ellen Contini-Morava:

For the Languages of the World class I would recommend taking a look
at one or both of the companion volumes, Languages and Their Speakers
and Languages and Their Status, ed. by Tim Shopen and published
(paperback) by U Penn. Press. Each book has a chapter each devoted to
a language and written by a specialist in that language, including
linguistic description and socio-cultural information. The linguistic
descriptions include simple exercises (with answers) that the reader
can do, that familiarize readers with concepts like ergativity,
expression of various kinds of spatial relationships, etc. The
languages include Malagasy, Guugu Yimidhirr, Russian, Japanese,
Jacaltec, Maninke, Swahili etc. I regularly use one or two chapters
in a Language and Culture (lower level undergraduate) class, and they
have been successful.

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>From Nicholas Ostler:

I have just come across Anatole V. Lyovin - An Introduction to the
Languages of the World, published this year by Oxford University Press
in Nrew York (ISBN 0-19-508115-3, and 0-19-508116-1 Paperback).

This seems an excellent compilation in one volume of all the
information that the originator of this thread seemed to be looking
for, with genetic classifications and typological evocations of
languages all round the world, and an appendix of language maps drawn
from W. Bright's Encyclopaedia of Linguistics. In terms of space, the
Americas are rather over-represented, but hey, it's an American book.
(Europe too is grossly over-represented of course, but we're used to

So there is a text book now, for that survey of the world's languages.

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>From Matthew Dryer:

I teach a course on the Lgs of the World, a freshman general education
course for nonmajors. I have tried using Shopen's Languages and their
Status and Languages and their Speakers, but found the chapters too
detailed. I have more recently tried packets of readings, many of
them encyclopedia articles. I am planning next time to use a new book
"The Atlas of Languages" edited by Comrie, Matthews, and Polinksy, if
I can get it in a softcover version that is not too expensive.
Another new book that is a possibility though I'm not overwhelmed by
it is "An Introduction to the Languages of the World" by Anatole
Lyovin. In addition to the text, I use a detailed handbook containing
what would otherwise be my own handouts.

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In addition to the above, Keith Denning and Matthew Dryer generously
sent me their syllabi.

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**** For the _Languages and Culture_ course ****

>From Alessandro Duranti:

I have been teaching a large lower division undergraduate class on
Culture and communication using a variety of articles. You can see the
syllabus and other information on my web site:

 I also just finished a textbook for Cambridge University Press
called "Linguistic Anthropology" to be used with upper division and
graduate courses. It should be out in August.

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Yuphaphann Hoonchamlong

> - what kind of things you would put in such courses

For language and culture: Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and later studies on
that. (including Lakoff's book: Women Fire and Dangerous
things.).Perhaps some cross cultural communication thing too.A friend
of mine taught an undergrad course in Cross cultural Comm. She has on
on-line course at: You might
find some interesting link from there.

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Madeline Maxwell has web sites for an undergrad course in Language and
Communication and a grad course in Language, Culture & Communication.

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 Toshihide NAKAYAMA
 Dept. of Linguistics
 U of California
 Santa Barbara, CA 93117
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