Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

Linguistics Portal

A Casual Look at Etymology in Paleontology

Have you ever wondered what Tyrannosaurus Rex means? How about Basilosaurus? Deinosuchus? Gigantopithacus? Argentavis? Okay you have to know Megalodon, right? Well, if you are interested in learning about the meaning behind some of your favorite prehistoric animal names, then join me for this sit down discussion. No prior knowledge of a secondary language (namely Greek and Latin) is required. This module is intended to be a fun chat to help you better identify certain creatures the next time you head to a natural history museum -- or the next time the topic shows up on Jeopardy!
Precepted by Joshua Sosa.

Advanced Old English Readings: Alice in Wonderland

Dr. Peter Baker, then of the University of Virginia, translated Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland into Old English. This module will work with and translate back into Modern English this fun and delightful text, Æðelgyðe Ellendæda on Wundorlande: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in Old English.
Precepted by Larry Swain.

Ancient Greek Morphology

Designed for intermediate students of Classical or Biblical Greek with roughly a year under their belts, this course will provide a detailed look at the inflectional system of Ancient Greek, moving past the memorization of paradigms to provide a rich linguistic explanation for why Ancient Greek word forms work the way they do.
Precepted by James Tauber.

"Arrival" and Adaptation

The 2016 film ""Arrival"" and the novella on which it is based (Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang, 1998) are wildly different from one another. In this course, half of us will read the story first, then watch the film, while the other half of the class will watch the movie first, then read the story. We will compare our reactions and discuss how the genre/medium affect adaptation choices. We will also talk about each work on its own merits, including a day with one of Signum's fine linguists on the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Constructed and Fictional Languages in Science Fiction

The use of fictional languages in science fiction from the good to the bad. This includes fully constructed languages, references to constructed and foreign languages, as well as misuse or misunderstandings of language change. How these subtle points contribute to or detract from world building. This will expand on the work of Ria Cheyne through examples and delving deeper linguistically.
Precepted by Shawn Gaffney.

How to write a grammar

This course will introduce you to some of the basic laws of universal grammar and guide you through the process of writing an analysis of any language.
Precepted by Eve Droma.

Introduction to Computer Programming Concepts

This module introduces you to the grammatical structure of a programming language. It's designed to give you the mental framework to learn any programming language more easily; though the syntax of programming languages can differ, the basic principles are the same. You'll learn about building blocks like variables, objects, and functions, and common patterns like if statements, switches, and for loops. And you'll put it all together and write your first simple program.
Precepted by Seth Wilson.

Introduction to Linguistics

This course is a basic introduction to the scientific study of the mechanics of language, with a bit of an extra focus on considerations relevant to studying literature.
Precepted by Aidan Aannestad.

Korean for Beginners 1 First in the Series

What do Korean dramas, K-pop, webtoons, and Korean films all have in common? ... The Korean language!

This module is for those who are ready to begin their journey in Korean. In this first step, we will learn to read the Korean alphabet (Hangeul), cover basic vocabulary, and begin exploring grammar and honorifics. We will be following a textbook, but will also spend time exploring song lyrics and a webtoon. The textbook we will be following is: Yonsei Korean 1-1 published by the Yonsei Korean Institute.

Note: This course has the potential to become a series of modules for those who wish to pursue higher levels of proficiency.
Precepted by Sam Roche.

Korean for Beginners Series Series

What do Korean dramas, K-pop, webtoons, and Korean films all have in common? ... The Korean language!

This module is for those who are ready to begin their journey in Korean. In this first step, we will learn to read the Korean alphabet (Hangeul), cover basic vocabulary, and begin exploring grammar and honorifics. We will be following a textbook, but will also spend time exploring song lyrics and a webtoon. The textbook we will be following is: Yonsei Korean 1-1 published by the Yonsei Korean Institute.

Note: This course has the potential to become a series of modules for those who wish to pursue higher levels of proficiency.
Precepted by Sam Roche.

Learn Any Language Like a Baby

Perhaps you studied Spanish or French in high school, yet--frustratingly--can’t give your order for chilaquiles or soupe à l'oignon today. This course will provide you with a method for learning any language in the world by meeting with someone who has no experience in teaching their language--and learn in a way that will make the language stick! This “Growing Participator’s Approach” uses methods based on how children learn language. You will learn how you can grow into the language (and the culture) rather than just memorize vocab and rules.
Precepted by Eve Droma.

Learn the IPA

No, not India Pale Ale! Learn exactly how to pronounce the particular sounds represented by the little squiggles and upside-down characters you find in some dictionaries. Ever wanted to be a Prof. Henry (not Sorina) Higgins and copy down an accent with perfect accuracy? The International Phonetic Alphabet is your key! This course will allow you to start to learn each of the symbols of the IPA, which will introduce you to each and every sound used meaningfully in the world’s languages, living, dead, or imaginary.
Precepted by Eve Droma.

Middle High German 1: An Epic Introduction First in the Series

Middle High German (MHG) is the umbrella term for the German dialects used in the Holy Roman Empire from about 1050 to 1350. Its written form was the language of the court, and most MHG poetry embraces chivalric intellectual interests – adventure, romances, and courtly love! In our epic introduction to the language, we begin with a poem on subject matter that Old English and Old Norse students will immediately recognize: Das Nibelungenlied, the story of Siegfried (Sigurd) the dragon slayer, who we all know from the Völsunga Saga, the Poetic Edda, and (as his father Sigmund) Beowulf.

This module requires absolutely no modern German, but you may find that the course awakens that bit of “school German” you remember from high school. We will read our text – the 14th “Adventure” of The Nibelungenlied – slowly, as a small reading group. The benefit of the Nibelungenlied’s style is that enjambment is rare and each line can be treated as a single sentence.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel.

Middle High German 2: An Epic Continuation Continuing Series

This module is a continuation of Middle High German 1 with the plan to continue with the 14th âventiure of the Nibelungenlied until we complete it. After that, we will switch to some Arthuriana - Iwein, by Hartmann von Aue, the German “translation” of Chrétien de Troyes’[s] Yvain, the Knight of the Lion. Also, if the students want to read something else, your preceptor is all ears!
Precepted by Isaac Schendel.

Middle High German Series Series

This is the landing page for Dr. Isaac Schendel's Middle High German Series which consists of two modules: Middle High German 1: An Epic Introduction and Middle High German 2: An Epic Continuation. For more information check out the module links below.

Also: Please wishlist this page if you are interested in taking Dr. Schendel's Middle High German series when we offer it next.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel.

Natural or Synthetic?

As we all know, Tolkien drew heavily from Finnish for his languages. Learn more about the universal laws of grammar for natural languages in order to make your created language more appealing, vibrant, and convincing. In this course, we will explore basic facts about phonetics and phonology, general patterns about how natural languages do and do not encode meaning, the range of functions of parts of speech, and syntactical and morphophonemic nuances. We will examine the building blocks of languages which have actually been or are being spoken in everyday life in the primary world so you can enrich languages perhaps only ever expressed by your characters, only ever on the page.
Precepted by Eve Droma.

Participation, Creation, and Poetry: Barfield's Saving the Appearances and Poetic Diction

Owen Barfield, one of C.S. Lewis's closest friends and a core member of the Inklings, was one of the most original thinkers of the 20th century (although he did not think of himself as such). Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry sets forth the core theory of ongoing and evolving participation in creation which forms the core of Barfield's thought. Poetic Diction, a work that influenced not only Lewis but Tolkien as well, applies Barfield's theory to language in particular. In this module we will first read Saving the Appearances and then use that work as a basis for understanding Poetic Diction.
Precepted by Clayton McReynolds.

PST! Trees Grow Great Grammar Fruit!

Do you love diagramming sentences? Are you interested in languages other than English? Phrase Structure Trees are a wonderfully helpful tool for analyzing the grammatical structure of any language: living, historical, or constructed. If you love the thrill of exploration, you will enjoy getting to discover the grammar of a language by drawing trees, rather than by wading through murky grammar textbooks.
Precepted by Eve Droma.

Ransom The Field Linguist? A Sociolinguist’s Reading

Have you ever read The Space Trilogy and been bothered at how terribly quickly and well Ransom picked up the heavenly languages? Let’s be bothered together! This module will look at each and every mention of philology in Lewis’s other worldly series and analyze what exactly Ransom would have needed to do in each learning situation, evaluate whether the language and culture learning was realistic, and along the way discuss how philology differs from field linguistics.
Precepted by Eve Droma.

Readings in Middle High German: Das Eckenlied

This module, which builds on the skills taught in the previous Middle High German Modules, looks at a representative of the Medieval German aventiurehafter Dietrichepik, or legendary stories of the mythical King Dietrich von Bern (Theoderic the Great?). This song, equal parts romance and epic, tells the stories of the wannabe knight Ecke, the foolhardy giant who seeks out Dietrich von Bern and perishes in the duel, and of Dietrich von Bern’s subsequent quest to return Ecke’s disembodied head to his (Ecke’s) home of Seburg.

This module, like the other Readings in Middle High German, will both look at the poem as literature and as a chance for interested students to continue perfecting their Middle High German reading skills. We will read selections of the text in Middle High German and translate them into English. Once translated, we will then discuss the segments both in isolation and in connection with the poem as a whole. Although no English translation of the Eckenlied exists, a summary of the complete poem will be supplied.

Questions discussed in the module will include questions of genre and the relationship of the poem to oral poetry, characterization of ambiguous heroes like Ecke and his brothers, perceptions of the so-called “Heroic Age” during Medieval Europe, intertextual relationships between Dietrichepen and other heroic poems, and gender in the past-within-the-past.

The language of the Eckenlied is roughly equivalent to the language of the Nibelungenlied, so completion of the Middle High German 1 and 2 modules are strongly encouraged. If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to contact Dr. Schendel.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel.

Readings in Middle High German: Diu Klage

This module, which builds on the skills taught in the previous two Middle High German modules, focuses on the “concluding poem” of the Nibelungen Mythos, Diu Klage (The Lamentation), a 4360-line epic in rhyming couplets devoted to the aftermath of the slaughter in Etzel’s Hall. We will devote ourselves to both a close, philological reading of selected lines (about 20 lines per hour) and a general discussion of the entire work in English translation (German material can be consulted, of course, but the language of instruction is in English).

This session is intended both for veterans of the Middle High German modules and for beginners. If any beginners enroll, the discussion of MHG verse will focus a bit more on foundational grammatical concepts, but there will still be enough to interest and challenge advanced MHG readers.

Discussions of the text will look at it from a variety of perspectives, including: The “Heroic Age” in a High Medieval perspective, investigations of emotion in Middle High German verse, and intertextuality (both within German literature and across Germanic tradition). Students are, of course, welcome to bring their own expertise and interest – feel free to take up contact with the instructor ahead of time with your input!
Precepted by Isaac Schendel.

Readings in Middle High German: Herzog Ernst

This module, which builds on the skills taught in the previous Middle High German Modules, looks at another representative of the Medieval German so-called Spielmannsdichtung (pseudo-minstrel tales). It tells the story of the Duke Ernest, who after unsuccessfully waging an assassination attempt and civil war against his misled step-father (and Holy Roman Emperor) flees to the Far East as a crusader, encountering mythical creatures and far-off places reminiscent to anyone who has read the Old English Wonders of the East.

We will follow the methods used in other Middle High German modules and look at the Herzog Ernst poem both as literature and as a chance for interested students to continue perfecting their Middle High German reading skills. We will read selections of the text in the original language and translate them into English. Since it’s not entirely feasible to assume that everyone has access to a modern English translation, we will primarily discuss the translated sections, although a summary of the poem in general will be given.

Questions discussed in the module will include questions of genre (as always) and the connection between the frame story and the second narrative, monsters and the bridal-quest, the medieval political philosophy and the HRE (Holy Roman Empire), crusade poetry, and more.

The language of Herzog Ernst is roughly equivalent to the language of the Nibelungenlied, so completion of the Middle High German 1 and 2 modules are strongly encouraged. If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to contact Dr. Schendel.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel.

Readings in Middle High German: Orendel

This module, which builds on the skills taught in previous Middle High German Modules, looks at a representative of the Medieval German so-called Spielmannsdichtung genre of short epics: Orendel. The titular hero of the epic, distantly related to the Old Norse Aurvandill, is a King with a fairy-tale mission to woo the beautiful Bride. He undergoes a number of adventures, including the discovery of Christ’s Tunic, in a paradigmatic example of a medieval Bridal Quest.

This module will both look at the poem as literature and as a chance for interested students to continue perfecting their Middle High German reading skills. We will devote ourselves to a close, philological reading of the most important passages in the text.

This module is intended both for veterans of Middle High German and for beginners. If any beginners enroll, the discussion of MHG verse will focus a bit more on foundational grammatical concepts, but there will still be enough to interest and challenge advanced MHG readers.

Discussions of the text will also look at it from a variety of perspectives, including: What is the Spielmannsdichtung genre? How do the Christian Faith and Bridal Quest narratives, which spring from two different cultural traditions, mesh? Does Orendel actually resemble in any way Aurvandill, or should questions of “Germanic origin” be put to bed? And are there any intertextual connections between this poem and other monuments of Medieval Literature?
Precepted by Isaac Schendel.

The Contours of Consciousness: A Study of Owen Barfield's Romanticism Comes of Age

In this class, we will tackle one essay per session from Owen Barfield's important collection of essays "Romanticism Comes of Age." For those who have read some of Barfield's better known works--such as "Poetic Diction" or "Saving the Appearances" these essays offer an opportunity to deepen and broaden their understanding of Barfield's ideas through more specific and focused studies. For those unfamiliar with Barfield's work, the essays also function well as an entry point into Barfieldean thought (and I will provide ample clarifying context where necessary).

The subjects of the essays range from literary analysis to psycho-spiritual exploration, but they are all bound together by a concern with the evolution of consciousness as a vitally important (indeed life-saving) aspect of the past, present, and future of humanity.
Precepted by Clayton McReynolds.

The Old Saxon Hêliand I

Old Saxon, the continental cousin to Old English, was the language spoken in Northern Germany from the ninth to the twelfth century. It is closely related to and mutually intelligible with Anglo-Saxon, so Old English students will easily be able to read and understand it. The language boasts a number of smaller texts, but the Hêliand, an epic poem of nearly 6,000 lines, remains its most prestigious literary monument. It tells the story of Jesus Christ (the “Hêliand,” meaning “Savior”) reimagined as a Saxon lord with a retinue of twelve thanes, and is comparable to the Old English Beowulf. In our Space module, we will read and discuss selections of this poem. Some familiarity with Old English is required.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel.

The Science of Reading: Teaching Your Kids How to Read

Is your child struggling to learn how to read? Do they have trouble sounding out words, or understanding the meaning of new words? Do you struggle to explain why "one" begins with an o, and not a w? Then come learn more about the Science of Reading!

This introductory module will show you all about the Science of Reading, and why everyone should understand these fundamental linguistic principles throughout their reading journeys (not just kids!). We will discuss the history of the American Reading Wars and how they have impacted reading instruction, what happens in your brain as you learn to read, and how to use systematic, "building-block" approaches in your own home when reading with your little ones. If you're interested in the "why" and "how" of reading, then this module is for you!
Precepted by Elise Trudel Cedeño.

The Vulgate Bible 1

The Vulgate Bible is one of the most significant Latin texts ever written. Jerome's Latin translation is not only a significant literary work, but is also a more intuitive text to translate, given the familiarity of Biblical texts to many people. This is the first module of the Vulgate Bible series, geared towards those who already have a good grasp of the case and conjugation system of Latin as well as basic grammar and vocabulary.
Precepted by Patrick Lyon.

The Vulgate Bible Series

The Vulgate Bible is one of the most significant Latin texts ever written. Jerome's Latin translation is not only a significant literary work, but is also a more intuitive text to translate, given the familiarity of Biblical texts to many people. This series is geared towards those who already have a good grasp of the case and conjugation system of Latin as well as basic grammar and vocabulary.
Precepted by Patrick Lyon.

Tolkien’s Invented Languages in The Lord of the Rings

In this puzzle-solving course we will work to piece together Tolkien’s invented languages based primarily on how they are used in The Lord of the Rings. Although much richer linguistic information became publicly available later, this course will look primarily at those aspects of the languages revealed through the main text and appendices of The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien's Writing Systems

This module will study various writing systems invented or adapted by Tolkien. We will primarily look at the Tengwar and the Angerthas (Cirth) described in The Lord of the Rings but we will also touch on other systems such as the Hobbit runes and other runic variants as well as the Goblin Alphabet from Letters from Father Christmas. Along the way we will introduce some basic phonetics and place Tolkien’s inventions in the context of the writing systems of the primary world.

Translation Principles: Adventures in Multilingual Comparison

Reading a text in multiple languages affords not only a fascinating look at the text but also insights into the process of translation. Participants of this module are each encouraged to bring a translation of the New Testament in a language other than English. Together, we will read through the book of 1 John, verse by verse, considering what translation choices were made for each language represented. We will discuss what we know about the conditions under which each translation was made and consider what we know about the respective cultures in order to investigate what motivated particular choices. As a side benefit, we will marvel at the widely diverse ways languages encode meaning and we will learn interesting facts about grammar in general.

This course will be most beneficial for people who have at least a basic reading ability in any language other than English.
Precepted by Eve Droma.

Weird Languages

Many people do not realize the variety of languages structures and strange language phenomena that exist in the worlds languages. This class will introduce a number of features that can be found across the globe. These include object agreement, verbs that necessarily encode the shape of items, ergativity, discourse particles, languages with 20 grammatical gender classes, pronoun hierarchies, circumfixes and infixes, and the complex systems of taboo words that arise in some languages. We will look a number of these, at what is rare, common, surprising, but all of which are real. Language families from Africa, the Caucasus, Siberia, Australia, and the Americas.
Precepted by Shawn Gaffney.

Workshop Your Constructed Language

If you are currently in the process of constructing a language, this module is for you. Bring all of your language data and together we will work to refine it, develop it, buff it, and expand it. We will look at what sounds you are currently using, how you are combining them, whether you want to incorporate more “exotic” sounds and how, etc. Then, we will dive into looking at ways to make your grammar more complex, natural, and unique. Finally, we will consider your language’s history. Your preceptor will share cool tools used for analyzing (this earth’s) understudied languages. At the end of this module, your language will have a richer life of its own and will sound and work even more extraordinarily with the life, energy, and uniqueness of any living, breathing language.
Precepted by Eve Droma.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].