Linguistics 551
Prof. Suzanne Kemmer

Course Information Sheet
Spring 2005

Time TTh 2:30-3:45
Place Herring Hall 125
Office Herring Hall 209
Tel. (348)-6225, Suzanne Kemmer
Office hours: Wed. 11 a.m. and by appointment

Examination of approaches to syntactic analysis that take the construction as the basic unit. We will study analyses from Construction Grammar, Cognitive Grammar, and Corpus Linguistics, including some work that combines more than one of these approaches. Readings are about specific analyses and the focus in discussion will be on data and analyses as well as higher theoretical ideas, and not necessarily on technical details of theory representation, although students can pursue this in their own topics. Readings include works by Fillmore, Tomasello, Croft, Goldberg, Langacker, Barlow, Gries and Stefanowitsch, Kemmer. Publications or papers by seminar participants can also be assigned as readings, by agreement of participants. (Further suggestions for readings also considered.)

This course is a graduate seminar, meaning the focus will be on exploring cutting edge work together. The format is intended to be discussion-based and not lecture format.

At the outset or at least early in the course, students should have some basic understanding of why constructions are of intense interest in Linguistics, as well as a knowledge of fundamental functional linguistic ideas. (Additional background readings will be suggested if some students who did not take Ling 402 need and want to acquire or deepen these understandings.) We will start with a discussion of this issue, so students should prepare to say something about their understanding of why linguists are interested in constructions, and what their own understanding of a construction is.

For their seminar work, students may develop a new topic investigating a particular construction or family of constructions, or they can continue on a topic for which the groundwork was laid in another course on syntax (for example the 402 course, with appropriate expansion of data sources and number and depth of problems treated.) Collection of data from corpora will be expected.

For topics newly started in this course, the final paper requirement is a draft of a publishable paper that can be submitted for the departmental requirement of publishable papers. For topics started on earlier, in another course such as Syntax and Semantics, the requirement is a new paper submitted to a proceedings volume or a journal. Papers written based on previously submitted abstracts and/or work previously publicly presented are acceptable. However, papers that have already been submitted for publication cannot be used to fill the requirement of this course, only newly written or substantially revised work. Advanced students who already have one or more publications submitted should aim for the second requirement, even if starting a new topic, and should come as close as possible to a new publication.

Course Requirements

  • Participation in class analyses and discussions; contribution of data periodically; feedback for seminar participants' analyses
  • Readings (no textbook, but selected readings)
  • Paper proposal by March 4
  • Oral presentation based on your own data search (March-April)
  • Final paper due Friday April 29.
  • Readings and other Course Materials

    There is a WebCT course page for this course which makes the course materials available to students at Rice. Please sign up for a WebCT account and you will be sent a password. Course readings will be linked to our WebCT course page Ling 551 or otherwise made available.

    Lecture notes will also be posted on the site. These are considered part of the course readings. The calendar will help you keep track of dates for readings. There is also a Discussion Forum, for which students are encouraged to post and reply to other's posts on issues that come up in class, in readings, and on other relevant ideas in you happen to come across in your own reading, conference meetings, etc.


    If you have a documented disability that will impact your work in this class, please contact me to discuss your needs. Additionally, you should register with the Disability Support Services Office in the Ley Student Center.

    Last modified 18 Feb 05

    © 2005 Suzanne Kemmer