In this programme, you are offered a high level of theoretical, clinical and experimental linguistics, all of which prepare you for a variety of professions in the field of linguistics. You will acquire in-depth theoretical knowledge of current linguistic theories in the areas of syntax, semantics, morphology, phonology and phonetics and will in addition be equipped with hands-on experience on how to handle empirical linguistic data. You will, for instance, learn how to compare linguistic data using advanced theoretical means, or how to apply formal methods in the modelling and researching of phenomena in language and speech.
The focus of this programme will be on experimental work, including hands-on experience, on (bilingual) language processing, e.g. laboratory phonology, language acquisition as well as psycho- and neurolinguistic theories and research methods. This will also include clinical topics such as aphasia and hearing disorders (cochlear implants).
The programme comprises four successive courses and the completion of an MA thesis.
You are required to take courses in your first semester that will help you in advancing particular areas of expertise in linguistic theory. You can choose courses from other MA programmes in Leiden, as well as from the programme of the Research Master’s in Linguistics.
In the second semester, you follow a graduate seminar of your choice, as well as writing your MA thesis.
Bobby Ruijgrok, ‘The prosody of wh-in-situ in Mandarin Chinese’.
I am intrigued by the relation between linguistic form and meaning. In my MA thesis I combine phonetics and syntax – the aspects that comprise linguistic form. It is an investigation in the prosody of Mandarin Chinese sentences which contain the wh-words ‘what’, ‘who’, and ‘which’.
Typically, these words may occur at sites where we would expect their declarative counterparts as we can see in (1): the objects (between brackets) have equal positions in a statement and a question. This fascinating phenomenon is known as wh-in-situ.
(1) a. Hufei mai-le [yi-ben shu].
Hufei buy-ASP one-CL book
‘Hufei bought a book.’
b. Hufei mai-le [shenme]?
Hufei buy-ASP what
‘What did Hufei buy?’
My research focusses on the production of Mandarin Chinese sentences such as (1a) and (1b). Do speakers make use of sentence prosody to communicate sentence type differences? Ultimately, we are eager to know at what point a Mandarin Chinese listener can decide that he/she is processing a statement or question.
With respect to Hufei maile in (1) – to date – it is unclear whether there is a phonetic difference between a statement and a question. Challenging aspect of my research is that Mandarin Chinese is a tone language. At word level pitch, the phonetic parameter that is also employed in intonation, is used to distinguish between four lexical tones. Therefore, I designed, recorded, and analysed stimuli that are minimal pairs.
While wh-in-situ has been fleshed out primarily in theoretical terms, my study may set the stage for further experimental research into mechanisms that humans apply in deriving and interpreting of sentences.
Bobby Ruijgrok, MA Linguistics