Angel Matos 0

Divide the "Morphology and Syntax" course at UPRM!

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Language is universal. Everyone uses it on a daily basis, because it is crucial for effective communication and for undergoing the tasks of everyday life. A select amount of people have embarked on the complex and tedious mission of depicting how language functions within the mind of the native speaker, thus inducing the birth of the scientific study of language, commonly known as Linguistics. As many of us know, every science known to man can be divided into major sub-categories/fields which delve deeper into specific areas of study. For example, Biology can be subcategorized into Ecology, Biochemistry, Zoology, Genetics, Botany, etc., and the same occurs with Linguistic Sciences. Morphology and Syntax are perhaps two of the most important and major fields of Linguistics, which involve the study of the internal structure of words, and sentence structure/formation respectively. We absolutely do not find any logical, beneficial, or resourceful reason why both branches of this Science must be merged together and taught within one single course at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM). The following list provides only a few of the many reasons why the Morphology and Syntax course, currently offered by Dr. Nevin Leder, should be divided into two courses: 1. It is virtually impossible to fully discuss the complex nature of both Morphology and Syntax in one single semester. As in any science, both fields of study consist of a vast amount of specific terminology, rules, and concepts that are usually unknown before taking this course. Morphology for example, introduces concepts such as Derivation, Inflection, and Word Schema models, which may take days, even weeks, to fully be understood. Given the limited amount of time this course has to be offered, the concepts cannot be elaborated and discussed as much as they should be, which will create a series of complications later on, as the terminology, concepts, and analysis becomes increasingly difficult. 2. Though the fields of Morphology and Syntax are related and to some degree interdependent, they must first be discussed as two different fields before establishing the similarities between them. In order for the concepts to be properly grasped, a complete study of morphology is preferable and perhaps necessary before commencing the study of syntax. The problem seen here is that so much time must be invested in morphological study, that there is rarely sufficient time to complete syntactical studies. In order to illustrate this notion more clearly, take for example two other linguistic fields known as Phonetics (the study of the sounds of human speech) and Phonology (the mental function of speech sounds within a given language). Though these fields are clearly related, it is impossible to fully cover the implications and concepts of both fields in one single course. That is why the English Department of UPRM offers two separate courses in Phonetics and Phonology. Why can\'t the same thing be done with morphology and syntax 3. Many English majors who are currently in the Linguistics track desire to complete post-graduate studies in the area of linguistics. Keeping this in mind, it is logical that the Bachelors degree in English Linguistics, should be as complete as possible in order to assure that the student is fully prepared. Yet, by merging Morphology and Syntax into a single course, many students face the possibility of having deficiencies when it comes to completing post-graduate studies. Thus, those students who desire to pursue a Masters or Doctors Degree in the area of Linguistics will most likely have to take an undergraduate Morphology or Syntax course at another institution to make up for this deficiency. We therefore request the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez to divide the Morphology and Syntax course, either into two separate courses (a separate Morphology and Syntax course), or a two-part course ( Morphology and Syntax I offered during the Fall Semester, and Morphology and Syntax II offered during the Spring Semester). While we recognize that there may be Institutional, Departmental, and Financial difficulties, we are confident that the English Department, and the University in general - who have always kept the students wants and needs in mind - will have no trouble whatsoever with taking the appropriate measures and finding the requisite resources in order to establish these two courses as legitimate, permanent, and crucial fixtures of the English Department Linguistics Track. Keep in mind that by creating this petition, we are in no way implying that the current Morphology and Syntax course is indecent. The current course is as good as it can possibly be, but it does not count with sufficient time to cover so much material. This petition will be presented to the faculty, staff, and members of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez on May 1, 2007. If you support our efforts to divide the Morphology and Syntax course for the benefit of current and future English majors who belong to the Linguistics track, please add your signature below.


This petition is sponsored by students of the English Department (Undergraduate and Graduate) currently taking the Morphology and Syntax course offered during the Spring Semester 2007 at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. Angel Matos Caro, an English Major at UPRM, is responsible for the creation of this petition. The Morphology and Syntax course is offered by Dr. Nevin Leder.

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