FSEM 198, Fall 2003
Writing Assignment 1
AS YOU KNOW, there are three writing assignments in this course, in addition to the group project. The first of the three assignments is to write a paper related to Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct or to Alan Turing's ``Computing Machinery and Intelligence.''
This paper is due at the beginning of class on Thursday, October 2. The paper should be in double-spaced format and should be about 3 or 4 pages long. You'll have an opportunity to rewrite the paper if you are not satisfied with your grade on the first version.
This paper should involve some research in addition to the assigned readings for the course. Sources on the Internet are acceptable. You might even do some language research by observing or interviewing your friends. Your paper must include a bibliography. And of course, you must avoid plagiarism by including a reference for any words or any idea that you take from any source. References can be in the form of footnotes, or, if you prefer, they can be given as inline references such as [Pinker, p. 163]. In some cases, such as when you are quoting general ideas, you can embed the reference in the general flow of the prose of your paper, as in: As Pinker discusses in Chapter 5 of The Language Instinct, ...
There is no specific topic for this paper, but here are a few ideas. The simplest approach is to pick a topic covered in Pinker and do some research to find out more about it -- and perhaps to find some opinions that differ from Pinker's. You are welcome to use one of these ideas or to come up with an idea of your own.
- The Loebner Prize, and what has been happening with it recently.
- Creole languages and their grammars.
- Languages of the deaf.
- Stages of language development in children.
- Origins of the English language.
- Language extinctions, and efforts to stop them.
- How brain damage can affect language ability.
- The current status of computer speech recognition.
Once you have an idea of what you want to do your paper on, you are encouraged to discuss it with your professor before actually starting to write.