Linguistics 24, Section 1

Language Myths (1 unit, P/NP) SEATS AVAILABLE

Professor Larry Hyman
Wednesday 10:00-11:00, 263 Dwinelle Hall, Class number: 26263

Everyone has preconceptions about language in general and languages in particular. But are these accurate? In this course we will discuss and evaluate a number of common language myths such as these: Are all languages equally complex? Are some more logical? More beautiful? Is there such a thing as a primitive language? Do some people speak more grammatically than others? Is the English language undergoing a process of decay? We will draw on facts from English, other languages that may be familiar to participants, and lesser known languages that bear on the above and other questions.

Instructor Bio

Larry M. Hyman is a Professor of Linguistics at Berkeley where he chaired the Department of Linguistics from 1991 to 2002. He obtained his Ph.D. at UCLA in 1972 and subsequently taught at USC until coming to Berkeley in 1988. His research centers around the study of sound systems (phonology) and grammar, particularly within Bantu and other Niger-Congo languages in Africa. His publications include several books and numerous articles in the major journals in general and African linguistics. One of his long-standing interests is the study of tone languages, as found in Africa, Asia, Meso-America and elsewhere.

Faculty web site:


No linguistic or other prerequisites are required. All interested students are welcome, especially students who have a fascination with language and/or languages.