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Regular version of the site
Master 2022/2023

Formal and Functional Models in the Representation of Natural Language

Area of studies: Fundamental and Applied Linguistics
Delivered by: School of Linguistics
When: 1 year, 1, 2 module
Mode of studies: offline
Open to: students of all HSE University campuses
Master’s programme: Linguistic Theory and Language Description
Language: English
ECTS credits: 6
Contact hours: 64

Course Syllabus


The course covers different topics in the formal studies of syntax, morphology and semantics, focusing on the generative framework as the most influential one in this domain. The course goes over a wide range of linguistic phenomena highlighting major debates in the field, advantages and disadvantages of formal approaches (in general and in their different varieties) and giving a wider perspective on their role in the study of various phenomena. A brief introduction is followed by several in-depth case studies selected to represent the foundational principles and questions of the formal approaches to natural language. The course also presupposes an introduction to functional and cognitive linguistics as opposed to formal approaches to natural language such as generative grammar. The course comprises several lectures on main tenets, methodological peculiarities and the most important domains of research in functional linguistics, as well as discussions of various case studies and seminal papers. Students enrolled in the course have to cope with several tasks before and in class: they write analytical and argumentative essays, go over the reading materials that their instructor sends to them, prepare presentations of the given papers in small groups, and discuss problematic issues in class.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • to introduce students to theoretical apparatus, key notions, history, heritage and main principles of functional and cognitive linguistics, the form vs. function controversy in modern linguistics
  • to introduce students to the mainstream branches and schools of functional and cognitive linguistics
  • to introduce students to methodological aspects of functional and cognitive linguistics
  • to introduce students to the methodology of formal grammar and semantics and to the major questions that these frameworks seek to answer
  • to discuss linguistic phenomena that played a crucial role for these frameworks
  • to teach students how to use up-to-date conceptual apparatus, methods and argumentation in these domains
  • to introduce students to critical thinking and reasoning within and outside cognitive linguistics
  • to introduce students to the most salient papers (in English) on various aspects of functional, cognitive, and generative linguistics
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • is able to analyze sentence structure using different formal methods
  • understands the argumentation the formal syntactic models rely on
  • understands the complexity of formal syntactic model
  • understands the diversity of formal semantic model
  • A student understands the subject of cognitive and functional linguistics, its fields, connections with other (cognitive) sciences
  • A student understands main conceptions of the most significant scientific cognitive linguistics schools
  • A student is able to collect empirical data and apply methodological principles to various theoretical tasks
  • A student is able to make empirical observations and theoretical generalizations
  • A student is able to understand, interpret and discuss papers (in English) on various aspects of functional and cognitive linguistics
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • The basics of generative grammar: a recapitulation
  • Modality, tense and aspect in the syntactic structure
  • Noun phrases, relative clauses, argument structure.
  • Information structure in formal approaches. Quantifiers; negative and positive polarity items.
  • Introduction into Functional and Cognitive Linguistics
  • Main principles of cognitive-functional linguistics
  • Methodological issues
  • Cognitive models of language acquisition
  • Beyond (spoken) language
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Oral presentation (functional models)
    Reading and presenting a paper in small groups
  • non-blocking Project (functional models)
    home assignment involving data collection, analysis and interpretation
  • non-blocking Essay (functional models)
    written assignment on one of the topics discussed during the course
  • non-blocking In-class participation (functional models)
    discussing problematic issues in class
  • non-blocking Extra assignment (functional models)
    essay or quiz on one of the topics discussed during the course (optional for students who got an interim grade equal to 7 or 8 and want to improve their grade)
  • non-blocking Homework 1 (formal models)
  • non-blocking Homework 2 (formal models)
  • non-blocking Homework 3 (formal models)
  • non-blocking Oral presentation (formal models)
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • 2022/2023 2nd module
    Functional models: Interim grade = average(Oral presentation + Project + Essay + Class participation) Final grade = 0.8 * Interim grade + 0.2 * Extra assignment Formal models: 0.2 Homework 1 + 0.3 Homework 2 + 0.2 Homework 3 + 0.3 Presentation Final Grade: 0.5 functional models + 0.5 formal models


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Carnie, A. (2012). Syntax : A Generative Introduction (Vol. 3rd ed). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=531592
  • Cuyckens, H., & Geeraerts, D. (2007). The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. OUP Premium.
  • Dąbrowska, E., & Divjak, D. (2015). Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=nlebk&AN=1000461
  • Evans, V., & Green, M. (2006). Cognitive Linguistics : An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=163366
  • Fuchs, Z., Gries, S. T., & Brdar, M. (2011). Cognitive Linguistics : Convergence and Expansion. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=401190
  • Laura A. Janda. (2013). Cognitive Linguistics – The Quantitative Turn : The Essential Reader. De Gruyter Mouton.
  • Pinar Sanz, M. J. (2015). Multimodality and Cognitive Linguistics. John Benjamins Publishing Company.
  • Tomasello M, K. Abbot-smith, Stefan Th. Gries, Anatol Stefanowitsch, & Corpora Cognitive. (n.d.). 2003 Constructing a Language: A Usage-based Theory of Language Acquisition. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.5E1CE8C5

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Bayer, J., & Struckmeier, V. (2017). Discourse Particles : Formal Approaches to Their Syntax and Semantics. Berlin: De Gruyter. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1466775