Linguistics Department

Robert King

Professor EmeritusPh.D., University of Wisconsin

Audre and Bernard Rapoport Regents Chair Emeritus of Jewish Studies and Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus
Robert King



Historical linguistics; DNA and the origins of spoken language; language and politics;language and people issues.


Current research and publication interests are: language, nationalism, and ethnic identity..


LIN 306 • Intro To The Study Of Language

40655 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm GSB 2.126

This course will introduce you to linguistics, the scientific study of language. In what ways do languages differ? In what ways are languages the same? How do languages change over time? Why do languages change? What are the differences between verbal and non-verbal communicating? Do dolphins speak? How do children learn language, and how do adults learn language? Does language control our view of reality? How does language interact with social class? What kind of language should be taught in schools? What language problems do other countries have? What are the different language families of the world? The course will deal with sociolinguistics (language in society), historical linguistics (language change and language relationships), and formal linguistics. Basic material covered under formal linguistics includes phonetics (the properties of speech sounds), phonology (the systematic sound patterns of language), morphology (the grammatical structure of words), syntax (the structure of sentences), and semantics/pragmatics (the meaning and use of words and sentences).


Fromkin & Rodman, An Introduction to Language. 9th edition

LIN 350 • Language And People

41155 • Spring 2010
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm CBA 4.328

For detailed Course Schedule, download attachment.

LIN 306 • Intro To The Study Of Language

41410 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm GSB 2.126

BOTTOM-LINE RULES: Attendance is mandatory; homework is due almost every Thursday and cannot be turned in late, tests will be taken when scheduled; turn OFF cell phones; you can’t walk out of class, read a newspaper, sleep or eat in class! Do NOT use laptops for anything not class-related. Cheating will result in an F.


 Fromkin, Rodman, Hyams, An Introduction to Language (8th edition). Plus get used to logging on Blackboard (BB)—I put some things there.


Your grade is based approximately 70% on the two tests, 30% on the homework. Attendance decides borderline cases.


Class attendance is mandatory. You are allowed two (2) unexcused absences. Beyond that your grade suffers: 3 unexcused absences you get at most a B; 4 a C; 5 a D; 6 an F. Perfect attendance will be used to decide borderline cases in assigning the course grade. If you have a genuine, reasonable excuse to be absent, contact your TA (not me) ahead of time

Do not wander into class late or leave class early. Do not come to class to drop off your homework and then leave. Both are treated as unexcused absences. (Plus you have to “sign out” if you leave early without an ahead-of-time arrangement.) No cheating!


This is a homework-intensive course. Homework is assigned almost every week, and it must beturned in at the beginning of the class session when it is due. It is assigned in the syllabus and is due on Thursdays. No homework will be accepted late. You can work with other students doing the homework. You cannot just copy what another student has done. That is deemed plagiarism and will result in an  F for the class.


Make-up exams will be given only for good cause such as documented illness or a conflict with a religious holiday. No homework will be accepted late. Don’t ask for “extra work.”

Religious holidays:       

If you have a religious reason to be absent or miss a test or whatever, no problem—that is an excused absence—but let your TA know in advance so that arrangements can be made if needed. 

For detailed Course Schedule, download attachment.

UGS 302 • Spies, Espionage, & Treason-W

64785 • Fall 2009
Meets T 330pm-630pm MAI 220E



            0) Turn off your cellphone in class—and remind me to turn mine off. 

            1)  Mandatory Attendance. If you have a very good excuse to be absent (you’re more than ordinarily sick, family stuff), contact me by E-mail in advance. If you have two or more unexcused absences, the highest grade you can make is B. You are allowed one unexcused absence. 

            2) There will be pop tests and some “team projects” later in the course. No plagiarism! If you don’t know what plagiarism is, look it up.

            3) University Lectures. You will have to attend a certain number of “University Lectures.” I’ll say more about these in class.

            4) Papers. I will require three papers. Absolutely no late papers! I don’t require a formal bibliography. I do want you to put at the end of the paper what books and websites you used.

1st paper due Tuesday, September 15. 5 pages double spaced. 

2nd paper due Tuesday, October 13. 6 pages d-s.

3rd paper due Tuesday, December 1. 6-8 pages d-s.

There is no Final Exam in this course. Your grade is based on the papers, class participation, and attendance.


Robert Harris, Enigma

Martin Gardner, Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing

H. Keith Melton, Ultimate Spy

Website: Log on to the Blackboard website for this course well before every class session!!! I give some assignments and pop quizzes this way, on the website. Go to UT Direct and follow instructions to get to Blackboard, the course website. 

Grading: The three papers will count 2/3 of your grade. Attendance, attitude, interest in class, attendance at University Lectures, pop quizzes, your film “reviews,” familiarity with the assigned reading, and class discussion will count the other 1/3.

For detailed Course Schedule, download attachment.


“Language and Culture in South Asia,” Linguistics in South Asia, Braj and Yamuna Kachru (editors). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Two chapters in Blackwell’s The Handbook of World Englishes: Ch. 1 “The Beginnings” and Ch. 2 “First Steps: Wales and Ireland.” Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.

“Lessons from Yiddish for Nostratic,” Proceedings of Nostgratic Conference, Pecz, Hungary, 2005.

“A Different Side of Isaac Bashevis,” Jewish Affairs LIX (2004), 36-9.

“Linguists and Public Linguistics in the 21st Century,” Linguistics on the Way into the Third Millennium, Proceedings of the 34th Linguistics Colloquium (2002), pp. 175-192.

“The Poisonous Potency of Script: Hindi and Urdu,” International Journal of the Sociology of Language, CL (2001), 43-60.

”The Paradox of Creativity in Diaspora: the Yiddish Language and Jewish Identity,” Studies in the Linguistic Sciences, XXXI (2001), 213-29.

“Lessons of Public Linguistics,” Southwest Journal of Linguistics, XVIII (1999), 1-14.

“The Czernowitz Conference in Retrospect,” in The Politics of Yiddish, Dov-Ber Kerler (editor). Walnut Creek, CA: Alta Mira Press, 1998, 41-49

“On the Uses of Yiddish Language Geography,” Shofar, XXVII (1998), 81-89.

“The Politics of Language Hate,” SALSA, VI (1998), 197-206.

“Raja Rao, Teacher,” in Word as Mantra: The Art of Raja Rao, Robert L. Hardgrave, Jr., (editor). Delhi: Katha, 1998, 38-50.

“Yiddish Evidence for Early Uvular R in German,”Studies in Germanic Philology, X (1998), 279-90. (with Stephanie Beach).

“Teacher in Texas,” Discovery, vol. 14, 1997, 38-40.

Nehru and the Language Politics of India.  Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1997.  256 pages.

“Should English Be The Law?,” The Atlantic Monthly, April, 1997.

“Should English Be the Law?,” in Our Times, Robert Atwan (editor). Boston: Bedford Books, 1999, 206-215. (Reprint of 1997 article in The Atlantic Monthly.)

“A Mantra for the 1990’s:  No More Guilt,” Texas Observer, April 7, 1995, 18-19.

Obituary for Archibald A. Hill, Language, CXX (1994).

“Early Yiddish Vowel Systems and the Question of Origins,” in The Field of Yiddish V, David Goldberg (editor).  New York:  Northwestern University Press and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 1993, 87-98.

"Incident at Ayodhya," National Review, March 15, 1993, 24-26.

"Migration and Linguistics as Illustrated by Yiddish," in Reconstructing Languages and Cultures, Edgar C. Polomé and Werner Winter (editors) (=Trends in Linguistics, Studies and Monographs, 58).  Berlin/New York:  Mouton-de Gruyter, 1992, 419‑439.

"German Literary Criticism under the Nazis," in Word and Deed:  German Studies in Honor of Wolfgang F. Michael, Thomas E. Ryan and Denes Monostory (editors).  New York:  Peter Lang, 1992, 207‑228.

"Broad Multicultural Goals are Worthy of Pursuit," op-ed piece, Austin American-Statesman, April 18, 1992.

"Community and Factionalism," Texas Observer, November 29, 1991, 14.

“Matisyohu Mieses,” in History of Yiddish Studies, Vol. 3 of Winter Studies in Yiddish, Dov-Ber Kerler (editor).  Chur,Switzerland:  Harwood Academic Publishers, 1991, 25-38.

"A konspiratsie un a frage-tseykhn," Oksforder Yidish, I (1990), 247-251.

A Walk on the Wild Side," Alcalde, LXXVIII (1990), 10-12.

"West from India: The Odyssey of Sir William Jones," The Library Chronicle, XX (1990), 49-63.

"Theoretical Models of Change:  The Transformational-Generative Model," in Research Guide on Language Change, Edgar C. Polomé (editor).  Berlin:  Mouton de Gruyter, 1990, 249-256.

"On the Origins of the s-Plural in Yiddish," in Studies in Yiddish, Paul Wechsler (editor). Tübingen:  Max Niemeyer, 1990, 47-53.

"Treason and Traitors:  The British Spies," Society/Transaction, XXVI (1989), 39-48.

“Treason and Traitors,” Society, vol. 35, 1998, pp. 329-38. (Reprint of 1989 article. This issue of Society was the 35th anniversary issue in which the editors reprinted what they voted the best article of each year).

"Competing Generalizations and Linguistic Change," in Languages and Cultures, M. A. Jazayery and W. Winter (editors).  Mouton de Gruyter, Amsterdam, 1988, 335-345.

"A Problem of Vowel Length in Early New High German," Monatshefte, LXXX (1988), 22-31.

"Two of Weinreich's Four Riddles Revisited," in Dialects of the Yiddish Language, Vol. 2 of Winter Studies in Yiddish, Dovid Katz (editor).  Oxford:  Pergamon Press, 1988, 85-98.

"Proto-Yiddish Morphology," in Origins of the Yiddish Language, Vol. 1 of Winter Studies in Yiddish, Dovid Katz (editor).  Oxford:  Pergamon Press, 1987, 73-81.

"The Weinreich Legacy," Fifth Annual Avrom-Nokhem Stencl Lecture in Yiddish Studies, Oxford University; Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, 1987.

"More about Uriel Weinreich's Four Riddles," Shofar, VI (1987), 33-37.

"The Language Issue Revisited," in India 2000:  The Next Fifteen Years, James R. Roach (editor).  The Riverdale Company, Riverdale, Maryland, 1986, 135-143.

"The Worst Thing that Has Ever Happened," Texas Observer, October 11, 1985.


"Humanistic Byways:  Yiddish for Beginners," The Texas Humanist, VII (1985), 35-36.

"Language:  Some People Revel in It," Texas Journal, VIII (1985-1986), 40-41.

"Yiddish and the Settlement History of Ashkenazic Jewry," The Mankind Quarterly, XXIV(1984), 393-425 (with Alice Faber).

"The Ubiquitousness of Language," Discovery, VII (1983), 18-21.

"The History of Final Devoicing in Yiddish," in The Field of Yiddish IV, Marvin I. Herzog, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, and Dan Miron (editors).  Institute for the Study of Human Issues (ISHI), Philadelphia, 1980, 371-430.

"Linguistics and a University Education in the 80's," in Linguistics and the University Education, Grover Hudson (editor).  Department of Linguistics and Oriental and African Languages, Michigan State University, East Lansing, 1980, 5-16.

"In Defense of Extrinsic Ordering," in The Application and Ordering of Grammatical  Rules,  Andreas Koutsoudas (editor).  Mouton, The Hague, 1976, 76-96.

"Rule Replication," in Linguistic and Literary Studies in Honor of Archibald A. Hill, Mohammad Ali Jazayery, Edgar C. Polome, and Werner Winter (editors).  De Ridder, The Hague, 1976, 175-182.

"An Ordering Problem in Early Middle English," Glossa, IX (1975), 3-12 (with Marianne Cooley).

"Integrating Linguistic Change," in The Nordic Languages and Modern Linguistics,  Karl-Hampus Dahlstedt (editor).   Almqvist and Wiksell, Stockholm, 1975, 47-69.

"Rule Insertion," Language, XLIX (1973), 551-578.

"Historical Change and Global Rules," Glossa, VII (1973), 179-188 (with Daniel A. Dinnsen).

Linguistica storica e grammatica generativa.  Bologna, il Mulino, 1973.  316 pages.  (Italian edition.)

"'Triuwe' in Gottfried's Tristan," Canadian Journal of Linguistics, XVII (1972), 159-166.

"A Note on Opacity and Paradigm Regularity," Linguistic Inquiry, III (1972), 535-538.

"Intermediate Stages in Nordic u-Umlaut," in Saga og Språk:  Studies in Language and Literature in Honor of Lee M. Hollander, John M. Weinstock (editor).  Jenkins Publishing Company, Austin, Texas, 1972, 187-200.

"Syncope and Old Icelandic i-Umlaut," Arkiv för nordisk filologi, LXXXVI (1971), 1-18.

Historische Linguistik und Generative Grammatik.  Frankfurt, Athenäum, 1971.  287 pages.  (German edition.)

"Umlaut in Modern German," Glossa, IV (1970), 3-21 (with Emmon Bach).

Historical Linguistics and Generative Grammar.  New York, Prentice-Hall, 1969, 225 pages.

"Push Chains and Drag Chains," Glossa, III (1969), 3-21.

"Root versus Suffix Accent in the Germanic Present Indicative," Journal of Linguistics, IV (1968), 247-265.

"In Defense of Klopstock as Spelling Reformer:  A Linguistic Appraisal," Journal of English and Germanic Philology, LXVI (1967), 369-382

"Functional Load and Sound Change," Language, XLIII (1967), 831-852.

"A Measure for Functional Load," Studia Linguistica, XXI (1967), 1-14.

"On Preferred Phonemicizations for Statistical Studies," Phonetica, XV (1966), 22-31.

"Weakly Stressed Vowels in Old Saxon," Word, XXI (1965), 19-39.

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