All Ratings and Reviews for Shu-hao Shih
I was dreading taking this class, but Professor Shih gave an easy yet thorough overview of various fields in Linguistics. His passion for the field definitely shows and tries to be light with his discussions. He shared his notes for each lecture (which he posts on CCLE) and although there is a slight language barrier, the TA (Elkins also a 5/5) is enthusiastic to answer any question. Attendance is mandatory, but honestly that’s about the hardest thing about the class. There were 5 assignments (15% each of your final grade) and a 25% final exam, all of which are very straightforward and any confusion can be easily solved through office hours. No textbooks, only (unofficially optional) readings. As long as you read his lecture notes, you’re good to go.
This class will give you a good grasp of Optimality Theory (OT), which is the dominant paradigm in phonology (in the US at least) right now and since the 90s. This is necessary if you want to do any kind of real-world phonological research.
Shu-hao will go over the basics, and he will also use various examples from languages to show you the improvements that have been made to OT over the years, including what types of constraints can exist, which have to be universally ranked, and what the effect of particular rankings is. I think Shu-hao has an exceptional ability to teach; he will give you time in class to talk with your classmates about the problem in front of you, and then go over it as a group. His lectures are clear, repeat key information intermittently, and match up perfectly with his handouts. You can't go wrong being in his class.
We were allowed up to 3% extra credit for doing up to 3 hours of SONA experiments. We were also allowed to do a paper for 10% extra credit (it's described as required, but the total numerator for your grade with this included is 10%). Your homeworks (8 total) are each worth 10%, and the final 20%, so as long as you stay on track and know what you're being taught each week you should have no problem getting an A. Homeworks are generally short, and your worst enemy will be either 1) making minor mistakes, such as not dotting the lines in your constraint rankings or putting connections in Hasse diagrams that don't belong, or 2) not listening when he is talking about the homework in class, when he might be giving vital clues. There is one thing I didn't like, which was that we are not allowed to work on homeworks with other students. However, you generally shouldn't need help from others, and if you do need help you can always go to OH, so you should have no trouble getting it done right.
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