Reviews of Classes taught by Theodore Fernald of the Linguistics Department

Linguistics 040 - Semantics (cross-listed as Philosophy 040)
Linguistics 050 - Syntax

Linguistics 040 - Semantics

Name: Omitted Year: 2001 Major: Physics Course: LING 040 - Semantics Taken Spring 1999 Recommends?

All in all, this class interested me and bored me in about equal quantities. Prof. Fernald didn't want to run the course as a lecture-style course, so most of the class was given over to class discussion. Unfortunately, this doesn't work too well with a class of 25 students. The discussion would often go off on tangents, and more often than not Ted didn't make an attempt to steer it back on course. (Hence the boredom.) But when the discussion was on track, it was very interesting.

There was a fair amount of writing to do: "problem sets" whose answers were to be written in the form of a 5-6 page paper each week, and a "squib" (i.e. term paper) at the end of the term on a topic of your choice. The topics were usually interesting, and these writing was probably my favourite part of the course.

The reading was useful, but it wasn't really required to understand the class discussion. The textbook for the course was barely used-I can't recall ever having to read from it; most of the important reading was in the reserve binder.

All in all, a good course for linguists and philosophers, but only an adequate course for anyone else. If you're in the latter category, there are better linguistics courses to take (Ling 1, Ling 30.)

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Linguistics 050

Name: Omitted Year: 2003 Major: Omitted Course: LING 050 - Syntax Taken Fall 1999 Recommends? yes

Professor Fernald presented this class without the use of a textbook. Throughout the semester, he led discussions during which we evolved our own basic rules and structure of the English language. It was very interesting, and Prof. Fernald did his best to make it understandable to those of us who weren't Ling. majors. I would recommend this class to anyone who is interested in linguistics.

Name: Omitted Year: 2003 Major: Omitted Course: LING 050 - Syntax Taken Spring 2000 Recommends?

This class, while informative, was dry and uninteresting. There was no reading except a few uninformative articles on reserve, so it was very hard to make up anything if you missed a lecture. There were very long assigments--the equivalent of an 8-page paper--each week, which consumed all 48 hours of weekend. We were usually not given enough information with which to complete the assignments. This makes some kind of sense, because that way we had to figure it out for ourselves, but it was very frustrating when we got graded down for not coming up with the right answer when we had no way of knowing or figuring out what the "right" method would be.

However, it was at times interesting, and if you love many abstract systems of how meaning is encoded in words, then take this class. Even if you hate it you'll learn a lot.

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