HENK00008U English, 2017 curriculum - Free topic 8: Language and cognition + Intelligibility of Englishes

Volume 2017/2018

Language and cognition

This course element introduces the students to Cognitive Linguistics, which - broadly speaking - is the study of the interrelation between language and cognition (i.e. the way we think). Introduced in the 1980s, Cognitive Linguistics draws on linguistics and the cognitive sciences and has a distinct interdisciplinary character. It has grown to become a very influential branch of linguistics which addresses virtually all aspects of language, and, thus, it is a good idea for students who are interested in language to acquaint themselves with Cognitive Linguistics. In this course, the students will become familiar with the basic tenets of Cognitive Linguistics as such and ways in which the interrelation between language and the mind can be addressed theoretically and methodologically as we discuss cognitive structures and processes of conceptualization and the interplay between these and linguistic structure, use, and function; we will also address cultural and social cognition and their role in Cognitive Linguistics. Moreover, students will be introduced to cognitive-linguistic approaches to grammar, semantics, the lexicon, metaphor, discourse, culture and variation among other things, as we explore subdisciplines within cognitive linguistics such as construction grammar, cognitive discourse analysis, and cognitive sociolinguistics. The goal of the course is to provide students with a basic understanding of Cognitive Linguistics and for students to acquire tools for further development of linguistic knowledge that can be applied in student research projects, such as the Master’s thesis.


Intelligibility of Englishes

It is generally accepted among linguistic scholars that one of the most important criteria for assessing spoken interaction between non-native or native speakers is that of “mutual intelligibility”. A common goal in English language teaching (ELT) today is for students to achieve  “comfortable intelligibility” rather than native-like pronunciation; and in discussions of World Englishes the idea that intelligibility is closely linked to British or American standard has also been challenged.

While it is now generally recognised that overall intelligibility depends on many linguistics factors including grammar and vocabulary, this course will focus on the influence of pronunciation on intelligibility. What characterises an intelligible accent and what may make speech less intelligible? These questions will be discussed in relation to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) and World Englishes, and we will examine how different definitions of “intelligibility” may lead to different conclusions about the influence of “foreign accent” on intelligibility.

There will be a particular emphasis on empirical research methods, and the course will thus be a good preparation for students’ own empirical projects, including the Master’s thesis.

Language and cognition


Vyvyan Evans: Cognitive Linguistics: An Introduction (textbook)

Language and Cognition: Selected Readings (compendium - contains research articles and excerpts from textbooks and research monographs)


Intelligibility of Englishes

Most of the reading will be in the form of research articles.

Classes, with particular emphasis on reading primary and secondary texts, oral discussion and developing proficiency in English.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • Total
  • 409,5
Type of assessment
Portfolio, A joint portfolio for both courses uploaded in digital exam: Deadline January 10th 2018
Language and cognition
Two portfolio assignments:
Assignment 1: deadline Oct. 16 (5-7 standard pages; weighed 25%)
Assignment 2: deadline Nov. 30 (5-7 standard pages; weighed 25%)

Intelligibility of Englishes
Portfolio requirements
1. Response papers to 75% of classes; 1 page each, max. 10 pages, weighed 25%. Deadline(s): 23:59, day before class
2. Written assignment set shortly before deadline, 5 pages, weighed, 25%
Criteria for exam assesment