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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.

    About this paper

    Paper title Language Myths
    Subject Linguistics
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    Schedule C
    Arts and Music

    Teaching staff

    To be advised when paper next offered.

    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.


    Textbooks are not required for this paper.
    Readings are 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:

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


    Not offered in 2024

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system
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