Syllabi available upon request.

Instructor of Record:

Ling 3185: Figurative Language, University of Colorado Boulder

Spring 2021, 17 students, synchronous online

This course is an upper division cognitive linguistic elective at the University of Colorado Boulder that I developed and was the sole instructor of record for.

We all know that metaphor is a fundamental tool of literary creativity, as in passages like this by the poet Robert Frost:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

We know that Frost is talking about something other than walking through the forest. He’s talking about the choices we make in life. But how do we know that? In this class, we will learn that poetic metaphor is actually a special use of our basic ability to form analogies, and understand abstractions in terms of concrete entities, properties and actions. This ability is manifested in many aspects of language and communication — from our everyday conversations to political discourse to scientific explanation. It also plays a major role in our reasoning and understanding of everything from social life to properties of the natural world. In this class, we will learn how to detect metaphorical expressions in language and analyze the metaphorical systems that constitute much of our understanding of abstract phenomena like emotion, conflict, purpose, relationships, power, causation, time, life, communication and thinking. We will also learn to distinguish metaphor from other common types of figurative language that work alongside it. We will use this framework to understand how new word meanings develop, how meaning is grounded in embodied experience, and how figurative rhetorical moves are made.

What you will learn to do in this course

  • Identify and distinguish between different types of figurative language in their context of use, including: metaphor, metonymy, irony, hyperbole, blending, & idioms
  • Explain and evaluate conceptual metaphor theory.
  • Analyze the inheritance and composition relationships that connect complex metaphors to primary metaphors, conceptual frames/domains, and embodied image schemas.
  • Diagram the conceptual mappings and entailments associated with specific instances of figurative language, using the cognitive linguistic frameworks of frame semantics, conceptual metaphor theory, and blending theory.
  • Explain the communicative purpose(s) of figurative language and the grammatical resources recruited in figurative language, with attention to how these resources and purposes may vary between particular situations and cultures.
  • Produce an original analysis of the figurative language used in a discourse or domain of your choosing, evaluating how the situated use of figurative language contributes to a particular viewpoint and particular communicative entailments about your topic.

Textbook: Dancygier, B., & Sweetser, E. (2014). Cambridge textbooks in linguistics. Figurative language. Cambridge University Press.

Ling 2000, Introduction to Linguistics, University of Colorado Boulder

Spring 2020, 92 students, in person/synchronous online

May 2022, 10 students, synchronous online

This course is a lower division required introduction course at the University of Colorado Boulder that I was the sole instructor of record for. In Spring 2020, I redesigned the course and implemented a new textbook. In May 2022, I integrated the sociolinguistics unit with other units in order to make the course more relevant to students.

Linguistics is the scientific study of language.  In this course you will learn about structures of human language(s) and their functions.  The central question in linguistics is “how does language work,” in all of its variation and complexity?  You will learn what one needs to “know” to speak a language, and how language is used in social contexts.  You will learn that all languages vary and change – language is not static, and languages differ from each other in a myriad of ways. However, there are systematic methods that we can use to analyze linguistic data in every language.  All languages rely on the human body and cognitive system’s capacity to make and perceive sounds or signs, the study of phonetics.  All languages have a specific inventory of sounds or signs, and the study of how they systematically behave is called phonology.  All languages have words, and the study of their internal structure in each language is called morphology.  All languages have particular rules and patterns for how words combine, which is the study of syntax. Crucially, the function of all languages is to communicate meaning.  The study of meaning conventionally encoded in lexical items is called semantics, and the study of inferential meaning in context is called pragmatics.  In addition, language is always used within a dynamic sociocultural context, and thus language use informs identity formation and social meaning, the study of sociocultural linguistics.  Finally, we can examine the use of linguistic structures by different communities in different time periods, to figure out how languages are related and change over time, the study of diachronic or historical linguistics. 

What you will learn to do in this course

  • use the basic tools of linguistic analysis to understand the fundamental properties of language(s) 
  • reason about the issues involved in the social use of language 
  • draw generalizations based on accurate and concise observations about linguistic data
  • provide explanations for an observed pattern
  • write up your observations, analyses, and explanations

Textbook: Genetti, Carol, (Ed.) 2019. How languages work: An introduction to language and linguistics (2nd Edition) Cambridge University Press.

Teaching Assistant:

  • Ling 2400, Language, Gender, and Sexuality, University of Colorado Boulder – Spring 2022
  • Ling 2000, Introduction to Linguistics, University of Colorado Boulder – Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021
  • Ling 1010, Study of Words, University of Colorado Boulder – Spring 2019
  • Ling 1000, Language in US Society – Fall 2018, Spring 2022