There are three types of assignments in this course, plus two take-home tests. These are described below. All assignments may be modified if you have a burning desire to do one type of project or another – just come talk to me about it.

In-class writing assignments

These assignments will be given at the beginning of class most days. They will be in response to a question addressed by the reading, and in preparation for the topic for the day. They are designed to help you think about the reading with respect to the world around you – and how language is or is not used. Doing these short writing assignments will be helpful in finding and developing a SQUIB topic as well.

Grading for these writing assignments is on completion only. Since there is no opportunity for revision, I will not consider punctuation, spelling, etc. These writing assignments will form the basis of the discussion for the day, and are therefore essential in helping you sort through all of the complicated ideas that will be presented in this class.


Homework is your opportunity to get feedback on your thinking about the ideas we will be covering and how they are used within linguistics and can apply to the world. Homework assignments can be done in groups, but if you work with a partner or group, all the group members’ names need to appear on the paper (regardless if you turn it in separately or together). If you work in a group and everyone turns in the same assignment, you will get feedback via email or another electronic format. I prefer homework to be typed, but if that isn’t possible (or is unreasonable as it will be for a couple assignments), please write legibly. Since you are taking the time to write it, I want to be able to read it. Grading is on completion only, and is your best chance to get good feedback.  You may turn homework in via email to johnson.michelle.anne@gmail.com or in class.


A Squib is a very short paper that thoroughly presents a topic, problem or issue for further study, and may or may not present a solution. They were originally popularized by the journal, Linguistic Inquiry. The journal Snippets describes them as “the ideal footnote: a side remark that taken on its own is not worth lengthy development but that needs to be said” (Bhatt, Donati, & Percus, 2000). It is not a research paper, per se, but rather the presentation of a problem that may or may not be solvable. The goal is for you to think creatively about semantics, and introduce a topic you genuinely enjoy.

The Squib is your capstone assignment for this course. There will be much more discussion throughout the semester of what this entails specifically.

  • The Squib also involves a presentation to the class during the last week of the semester. The purpose of this presentation is to get feedback in a more formal setting. Half of the presentation grade is your own presentation, the other half is actively participating in everyone else’s presentations by asking questions and providing constructive feedback.
  • There are two tests, both of which are take-home. The purpose of these is to make sure you are developing Semantic Reasoning Skills in preparation for the SQUIB. Therefore, unlike the homework everyone will have to work individually and cite all of your sources using APA, MLA or your favorite citation method. This does not mean that you cannot talk about the answers with each other – only that all of the work must be your own, and any sources or classmates whose ideas you use have to be cited.


There will be two tests – both will be take home. These will involve significant amounts of writing and should be your own effort – since they are take home, they are clearly open book, open notes, even open friend and internet, but the thinking, ideas and responses must be your own. Where you are using someone else’s ideas, it must be cited as such.

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