Review Comment

[ANTH V3906] Functional Linguistics

June 14, 2011

Kockelman, Paul Silver_nugget
[ANTH V3906] Functional Linguistics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I can't disagree with the previous review more. What a complete disaster.

The class was a small, 15-20 person seminar. Kockelman probably only knew half of the names of students in the class - classes consisted of Kockelman's rambling lectures that were rarely interrupted by student participation. Kockelman only knew the names of the kids who went to office hours - office hours that were extremely inflexible, occurring for 2 hours once a week after class (often still canceled) and no other time possible. I'm sorry, but my idea of a seminar is a class where a professor makes some kind of effort to get to know his/her students. None of my emails asking for different office hours or asking simple homework questions were responded to.

And sure, his mannerisms are definitely amusing, and he does indeed know and understand Q'eq'chi and however many other languages and that certainly makes him a capable linguist. But for the dense material covered, Kockelman was an incapable professor - it was nearly impossible to follow along and comprehend everything in a 2 hour span in a small classroom while I listened to Kockelman's head spin.

And I have to STRONGLY disagree with the part where the previous reviewer says you should take this an elective. You should NOT take this as an elective. The readings, although on the surface seemed straight forward and short, were excrutiatingly dense and difficult to understand. Whenever a problem set was assigned, it generally was a marathon of redundant exercises that still ate up many hours. This ate into the grades for my other classes. (don't think this is a requirement for linguistics concentrators, either)

So, after coming to these sad conclusions 2/3rd through the semester, I P/F'd the class, cut most of the rest, and stopped giving in homework. And guess what. I got an A-. Yes, an A- in a seminar where I missed at least 5 classes, gave in maybe half of the problem sets, and guarantee that the professor needed Columbia's Facebook to put a face to my name (and I don't even know if that helped).

I can't imagine that he even checked the homeworks, although rumor was that he left them outside his office. Apparently the entire class was based on a final exam that I spent ~2 hours studying for. The tragedy to all of this was that the subject matter was really, really interesting.

Workload:

long weekly readings, approx biweekly problem sets

May 14, 2011

Kockelman, Paul Silver_nugget
[ANTH V3906] Functional Linguistics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I can't speak enough to what a wonderful professor Paul Kockelman was. At the very beginning of the semester, I admit that I found it difficult to take him seriously. He has a very playful picture on the departmental website, and dressed down for the class. He jokes a lot, and has a few peculiar mannerisms, like his laugh [which is adorable]. As he proved to us as the weeks went on, though, he really knows his linguistics and his methods extremely well, and knows how to dissect a reading for a class.

The class covers a functional (not theoretical) approach to language from the very beginning, in terms of scale and of chronology. You begin with Bloomfield's form-classes, the founding work of this branch, and examining parts of language from micro to macro. Morpheme>word>clause, etc. An excellent aspect of Kockelman's teaching style is that he constantly recaps what has already been discussed in class, as well as how it fits into the general schema for what you should be learning from the class. It's very cohesive and well-designed, and shows in the style of seminar.

Kockelman's knowledge of Q'eqchi' is also astounding- he really has a mastery of many Native American languages as well as traditional European ones. It gives a definite sense of reality to the course, something regrettably lacking in other linguistics courses.

In short, TAKE Kockelman. Doesn't matter if it's for your linguistics major, an elective, or for nothing at all. It will change how you think about your words and language in general.

Workload:

Problem sets weekly (in the reading).

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
ANTB / ANTH ANTB ANTH V3906: Functional Linguistics Paul Kockelman 2011 Spring M / 11:00-12:50 PM 1
ANTB / ANTH ANTB ANTH V3906: Functional Linguistics Paul Kockelman 2010 Spring T / 11:00-12:50 PM 1
ANTB / ANTH ANTB ANTH V3906: Functional Linguistics Paul Kockelman 2009 Spring W / 11:00-12:50 PM 1