LING 1020 Languages of the World

Instructor Contact:

Name: Marielle Butters, PhD candidate in Linguistics, GPTI


About the Course:

There are more than 7000 languages (as per The Ethnologue) spoken in the world and each one of them has its own unique characteristics and history. Linguistic diversity allows scholars to understand what is universal and unique to all world languages and offers a window into the cultures and minds of their speakers. This introductory course explores the diversity of human language through the lens of a linguist. We will study a subset of over a hundred languages of the world. We will compare the similarities and differences of world languages across four linguistic domains: Phonology (sounds), Morphology (words), Syntax (sentences), and Semantics (meaning). We will learn about language families and how linguists categorize these families. This means that a large part of the course will involve describing the languages’ linguistic features and identifying their language family through in-depth analysis and discussion of data. We will also explore the effects of language contact, language death, preservation, and revitalization and discuss what sort of work linguistic fieldworkers do.

Course Prerequisites: None


The course objects include the following:

  1. Learn fundamental linguistics concepts
  2. Understand the diversity of human language
  3. Identify language families, areas, and types
  4. Explore cognitive implications of language differences
  5. Improve data analysis and critical thinking skills

Optional Text:

**Pereltsvaig, Asya (2020). Languages of the World: An Introduction, 3nd Edition. New York: Cambridge. ISBN: 9781108748124(Available in the CU bookstore, located in the University Memorial Center (UMC)). This textbook is optional but recommendedin order to supplement your understanding of the lectures.

Grading breakdown:

  • Exams (45%)
    • Midterm 1 (15%)
    • Midterm 2  (15%)
    • Final Exam (15%)
  • Homework (16%)
  • Discussion Posts (12%)
  • Quizzes (12%)
  • Final Project (15%)
  • Total (100%)


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Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado