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LING103 Language Myths

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Examination of popular myths from a linguistics perspective. Includes topics such as the origins and nature of language, attitudes toward languages, and language policies.

This paper introduces linguistics by critically examining popular misconceptions or “myths” about language. The paper is divided into three sections or themes. The section on the origins and nature of language considers myths such as whether animals have languages, if we can teach animals language and if language and thought are the same thing. The section on language attitudes examines whether men and women use language differently, why non-native speakers still make mistakes and have accents even if they’ve been using the language a long time and whether some languages/accents are “better” than others. The final section focusses on language policies, in particular whether non-native teachers in the classroom are less effective.

Paper title Language Myths
Paper code LING103
Subject Linguistics
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Summer School (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $913.95
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,073.40

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Schedule C
Arts and Music

Teaching staff

Dr Carrie Ankerstein

Paper Structure
  • Nature and development of language
  • Language attitudes
  • Language policy and education
Assessment Schedule:
  • Report 1: 15%
  • Report 2: 15%
  • Small group presentation: 15%
  • Small group presentation: 15%
  • Exam 40%
Teaching Arrangements

This paper is taught through lectures. In Summer School this means two 2-hour lectures and one 2-hour tutorial per week.

The examination for this paper will be online via Blackboard.

None. Texts available on Blackboard.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Lifelong learning, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Upon successfully completing this paper students will:

  1. Understand different theories about the origins and nature of language
  2. Recognise the difference between human and nonhuman communication systems
  3. Be able to evaluate arguments about nonhuman communication systems
  4. Understand how all human languages share fundamental similarities
  5. Recognise the role of attitudes in labels applied to languages
  6. Be able to evaluate arguments based on attitudes
  7. Understand selected topics covered in language policies

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Summer School

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 14:00-15:50 2-5, 7
Tuesday 14:00-15:50 2-7


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 14:00-15:50 2-7