Language in the U.S.

Susan Curtiss

Language in the U.S.

Linguistics department

Susan Curtiss

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Overall 2.4
Easiness of class 1.7
Workload 1.1
Not Clear
Clarity of professor 2.3
Not Helpful
Helpfulness of professor 2.4


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Quarter Taken: N/A Submitted July 4, 2010 Grade Received: N/A

Course taken: HC56, Language as a Window to the Mind

If you've taken any previous linguistics classes and you manage to enroll, she'll make you drop the first day. Doesn't want anybody to have an advantage over anyone else, pfft.

You won't even get to the "to the mind" part of the class's title until well after the midterm; the first half to two-thirds of the class is about the nitty-gritty of IPA, phonetics, morphological structure, syntax, and the development of the class language. If I'd known that, I would have never taken it, as I took the class thinking it would be based more on psychology and whatnot. If you're not too into learning about deep sentence structures or what an assimilated stop is, I wouldn't take it if I were you, as your grades will probably tank and remain below an A until you get to the slightly more interesting stuff about phantom limbs (which somehow have something to do with language cognition) and cognition, at which point all the good marks you get on homework won't be enough to save you.

There is no final (aside from the final presentation, which I don't think is graded?), but there is a final paper, which can be based on a lot of things, but nothing too particularly interesting, and you CANNOT use any books or journals. It has to come "out of your mind." You choose the topic; a lot of people in my class ended up analyzing poems "linguistically," I ended up analyzing the grammar of a language. Other people wanted to look into language acquisition in babies; I'm pretty sure their paper topics got rejected because they necessitated outside research. The really BS part of this paper is that you can write it on the class language -- invent its history, the people group who speaks it, make posters of advertisements in the class language, rewrite or invent a fairytale in the language itself... I hated dealing with the class language, so I avoided it, but a lot of people wrote up whatever and passed it off as a paper. That's the idiotic thing about this final presentation -- as the restriction on it prevents you from looking into journals and books, you're forced to go by what you learned in the class; you can put in a ton of effort to write a paper about the grammar, syntax, and morphology of Russian or Spanish, while your classmate can write theirs up on a Saturday about the peoples on an undiscovered island in the Indian Ocean who supposedly speak the class language.

Grading is harsh. Homework was frequently worth over 200-300 points (when homework got to be 5-6 pages, it easily topped 500pts), and small things on tests like T/F questions could easily dock you 10 points. She swears that she won't ever make you memorize anything, like IPA or how sounds change in the class language, and she does stick to that. But you have to memorize everything else. The Pinker text could be really linguistically intense at times, but the less grammar-intensive chapters could be enjoyable.

Overall: don't take this course unless you're sure that you'll enjoy the ins and outs of grammar. If you're looking for an easy HC, this is not it.

Quarter Taken: N/A Submitted Feb. 20, 2010 Grade Received: N/A

Hands down the WORST professor I've had at UCLA. She made my quarter the most miserable time I have ever had. You may think I am exaggerating, but I am not. She does not care about her students. She knows what she wants, but she won't tell you what that is so if you don't get it right, you're screwed. I took Honors 56 with her. Never take that class. Please, I am trying to do you all a favor. Do not enroll in that class. The weekly homework assignments were killer, the midterm was basically impossible, and she gives no guidelines for the paper but punishes you if you don't do what she wants. If you go to her during office hours, she offers no help and is very cold.

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