Approaches to English Linguistics

Course information


Approaches to English Linguistics


Krisztina Andrási

Course code





Room IV


Friday 12-14

Course description

Short description

The course offers an overview of the main trends, debates and theoretical approaches of current, i.e., 20th-21st century, English and American linguistics from Saussure/Bloomfield to the present day. Topics include the following:

Saussure, structuralism, (linguistic) semiotics. Descriptive linguistics in the USA (Bloomfield, Harris, Hockett). Sapir, Whorf, linguistic relativism. Chomsky and the influence of Syntactic structures. The first mentalistic period of generative grammar and its aftermath: the proliferation of grammatical theories (generative semantics, Lexical-functional grammar, head-driven phrase structure grammar, etc.). Principles and parameters theory, minimalist program.

Applications of grammatical/linguistic theories: psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, cognitive science, language technology, child language.

The rise of generative phonology and its subsequent trends. Chomsky and Halle's Sound pattern of English, lexical, autosegmental, metrical phonologies, optimality theory.

The effect of Frege's ideas and the philosophy of language on (linguistic) semantics, the Cambridge philosophers (Moore, Russell, Wittgenstein). The Oxford school of 'ordinary language philosophy' (Austin, Ryle, Grice). Fundamentals of formal semantics. Problems and trends in cognitive semantics.




  1. The central questions of linguistics
  2. Structuralism
  3. Generative grammar and its aftermath
  4. Principles and Parameters Theory; Minimalist Program
  5. Language Evolution
  6. Biolinguistics
  7. Language and the Brain
  8. Language Acquisition
  9. Generative Phonology
  10. LF
  11. Semantics
  12. Computational linguistics and AI
  13. Pragmatics
  14. Language Change





Requirements to get the grade

Written exam (based on the lectures, handouts and readings) during the exam period, dates to be specified at the end of the semester. Occasional handouts will also be available on CooSpace.

Reading list

Archangeli, Diana, and D. Terence Langendoen. 1997. Optimality theory: An overview.

Blackwell, Oxford.

Crain, Stephen – Diane Lillo-Martin. 1999. An Introduction to Linguistic Theory and Language Acquisition. Blackwell.

Newmeyer, Frederick J. 1986. Linguistic Theory in America. Academic Press, Orlando.

Hurford, James. 1994. Grammar: A student's guide. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Kenstowicz, Michael. 1994. Phonology in generative grammar. Blackwell, Oxford.

Lyons, John. 1996. Linguistic semantics: An introduction, Cambridge University Press,


Newson, Mark. 2006 Basic English Syntax with Exercises, HEFOP, Budapest (written with collaborators from ELTE). Downloadable from:

Pinker, Steven. 1994. The Language Instinct. Penguin.

Pinker, Steven. 2007. The Stuff of Thought. Penguin.

S. Greenbaum & R. Quirk. A Student’s Grammar of the English Language. 1990.

Radford, Andrew. 2004. English syntax: An introduction. Cambridge University Press,


Seuren, Pieter A.M. 1998. Western linguistics: An historical introduction. Blackwell, Oxford.

Searle, John R. What is a speech act?

Searle, John R. Indirect speech acts

Smith, Neil. 1989. The Twitter Machine. Reflections on Language. Blackwell

Smith, Neil. 2002. Language, Bananas and Bonobos: Linguistic Problems, Puzzles and Polemics. Blackwell.


Suggested reading list