LNGS 101: Introduction to Linguistics


This course is an introduction to the discipline of linguistics, the scientific study of human language. Students will learn that linguistics is a multi-disciplinary subject that involves the humanities, social, biological and behavioural sciences and as such, it can be considered an important aspect of a liberal arts education. The main purpose of this course is to make students aware of how the study of language can be done in a rigorous scientific manner and the application of linguistic knowledge to different aspects of human endeavours such language learning and teaching, human communication, and many more. Some of the topics to be discussed are: the nature of language, the origins of human language, the sounds of language, syntax, semantics, language and the brain and others.


By the end of this course, you are expected to:

  • Be able to define the term ‘linguistics’ and show that we use the term ‘linguist’ to refer to someone who engages in the scientific study of language.
  • Draw and label the different organs used by human beings to produce speech sounds and show how human beings have been able to adapt organs such the lungs, tongue, teeth, nose, whose primary purposes are for breathing and eating to produce speech sounds.
  • Describe how human languages select from a limited number of speech sounds and how they combine the sounds to form larger units like syllables and words. 
  • Define and exemplify the different terms used to describe the structure of words, the different ways languages increase their stock of vocabulary, and do a morphemic analysis of simple data from a human language.
  • Describe how linguists look at the ways languages put words together to form phrases, clauses and sentences and show familiarity with the semantic, morphological and syntactic characteristics of the different word classes. 

At the end of the course, you should walk away equipped with the skills to:

  • Evaluate some of the theories concerning the origins of human language.
  • Define and exemplify the important terminologies used to describe the production of speech sounds, the structure of words and sentences and well as meaning relationships among words and between sentences.
  • Write an essay on what linguistics is and its application to aspects of human endeavours. 
  • Solve problems involving data from a wide variety of human languages.
Course Grading and Evaluation

The final grade will be based on an continous assessment (IA) (50%) and a final examination (50%).  The interim assessment is made up of assignments and tests. 

Eligibility for Examinations:

Section 10 of the Handbook for Bachelor’s Degree Vol. I, 2015 page 24 states:

10.1: Junior Members are required to attend lectures, tutorials and practical classes 

specified for their course of study, and all such examinations as the University or the departments may from time to time require, and to perform all written and practical work prescribed for them.

10.2: Junior Members who absent themselves from lectures, tutorials and practical classes for a cumulative total of twenty-five percent (25%) in any one semester will be deemed not to have satisfied the attendance requirements for the semester. Such Junior Members shall be asked to withdraw from the University

Plagiarism policy 

The University of Ghana takes a serious view of plagiarism in academic writing.  ‘To use another person’s ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the source is to plagiarise.  Plagiarism, then constitutes intellectual theft and often carries severe penalties ranging from failure in a course to expulsion from school’ (Gibaldi, Joseph. 1995.  MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 4th edition.  New York: Modern Language Association of America, p. 26).

In writing any essay/paper for this course, you are expected to show the source of the ideas, information and even examples you include in your work.  Failure to do so will amount to plagiarism and you will suffer the consequences such as failure of the course or expulsion.


The required text for this course is:

Yule, George. 2017. The Study of Language. (6th edition). Cambridge: CUP. 


This course will be delivered entirely in-person and online on SAKAI LMS by means of lecture videos and tutorials. You'll receive more information about where to signup for a tutorial class soon. You are required to download the lecture video and related material for each week, read thoroughly and make notes.

  • Theories of origins of human language
  • Properties and functions of human language
  • Areas of linguistic study: Phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics
  • Linguistics and other disciplines
  • Language varieties 
  • Language and Society 
  • Applications of linguistic knowledge