UGC NET Syllabus for Linguistics

UGC NET Syllabus for Linguistics, Code No: 31


Linguistics: Linguistics is the scientific study of language. There are broadly three aspects to the study, which include language form, language meaning, and language in context. The earliest known activities in the description of language have been attributed to Pāṇini around 500 BCE, with his analysis of Sanskrit in Ashtadhyayi. Language can be understood as an interplay of sound and meaning. The discipline that studies linguistic sound is termed as phonetics, which is concerned with the actual properties of speech sounds and non-speech sounds, and how they are produced and perceived. The study of language meaning, on the other hand, is concerned with how languages employ logic and real-world references to convey, process, and assign meaning, as well as to manage and resolve ambiguity. This in turn includes the study of semantics (how meaning is inferred from words and concepts) and pragmatics (how meaning is inferred from context).

Question Pattern: There will be two question papers - UGC NET Examination in Linguistics, Paper II and Paper III. Paper II will have 100 marks in total whereas Paper III will have 150 marks in total. Paper II will cover fifty (50) objective type questions, whereas the Paper III will have seventy five (75) objective type questions, each question carrying two (2) marks. All questions are compulsory in both the papers. The objective type questions will include multiple choices, matching type, true / false and assertion-reasoning type.

Paper II Syllabus

1. Language and Linguistics

Notions of Language : Language as written text—Philological and literary notions i.e., norm, purity and their preservation, language as a cultural heritage—Codification and transmission of cultural knowledge and behaviour, language as a marker of social identity—Language boundary, Dialect and language—Codes of special groups—Use of language(s) to express multiple identities; Language as an object i.e., notion of autonomy, structure and its units and components; Language in spoken and written modes and relation between them; Writing system—-Units of writing—Sound (alphabetic), or Syllable (syllabic) and Morpheme/Word (logographic).

Approaches to the Study of Language : Semiotic approach—Interpretation of sign; language as a system of social behaviour—Use of language in family, community and country; Language as a system of communication— Communicative functions—Emotive, Conative, Referential, Poetic, Metalinguistic and Phatic; Sign language; Animal communication system and formal language; Design features of language—Arbitrariness, Double articulation, Displacement, interchangeability and specialisation; Language as a congnitive system—Knowledge representation; Relation with culture and thought, i.e., concept formation; existence of language faculty; linguistic competence, ideal speaker-hearer.

Structure of Language: Levels and their hierarchy—Phonological. Morphological, Syntactic and semantic, their interrelations; Universal and specific properties of language—Formal and substantive universals. Synchronic and diachronic view of language; Language relation—Genetic, areal and typological; Concepts of langue and parole, idiolect and language.

Grammatical Analysis: Linguistic units and their distribution at different levels; Notions of contrast and complementation; -etic and -emic categorisation; Paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations; Notions of word classes ( parts of speech ) and grammatical categories; Grammatical relations and case relations; notion of rule at different levels; description vs explanation of grammatical facts.

Linguistics and Others Fields: Relevance of linguistics to other fields of enquiry—Philosophy, Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, Psychology, Education, Computer Science and Literature.

2. Phonetics, Phonology and Morphology

Phonetics: Definition; Mechanisms of speech production—Airstream mechanism, oro-nasal process, Phonation process and articulation ( place and manner ); cardinal vowels ( primary and secondary ); vowels and consonants ( liquids, glides ); secondary articulation; coarticulation; syllable; phonetic transcription ( IPA ); suprasegmentals—Length, stress, tone, intonation and juncture.

Phonology: Phonetics vs phonology; concept of phoneme, phone and allophone; Principles of phonemic analysis—Phonetic similarity, contrast, complementary distribution, free variation, economy, pattern congruity; alternation and neutralization; distinctive features; syllable in phonology.

Morphology: Scope and nature: concept of morpheme, morph, allomorph, portmanteau morph, lexeme and word; identification of morphemes; morphological alternation; morphophonemic process; internal and external sandhi; derivation vs inflection; root and stem; grammatical categories—tense, aspect, mood, person, gender, number, case; case marker and case relation; pre- and post-positions; affixes vs clitics; stem vs word-based morphology; paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations.

3. Syntax and Semantics

Traditional and Structuralist Syntax: Parts of speech; Indian classification of grammatical categories (naama, aakhyaata, upasarga, nipaata); structural syntactic categories (word, phrase, clause etc.); functional syntactic categories (subject, object, etc.); construction types (exocentric, indocentric, etc.), Immediate Constituent Analysis.

Generative Syntax: Universal grammar. Innateness Hypothesis, meaning of the term ‘generative’, Transformational generative grammar, criteria for determining constituents, Aspects model, Problems with the Aspects model, Ross’s constraints; Principles and Parameters.

Meaning: Types of meaning; descriptive, emotive and phatic; sense and reference, connotation and denotation, sense relations (homonymy, synonymy, etc.); types of opposition (taxonomic, polar, etc.); ambiguity, sentence meaning and truth conditions, presupposition, entailment and implicature. speech acts, deixis, definiteness, mood and modality, componential analysis.

4. Historical Linguistics and South Asian Language Families

Introduction: Synchronic and diachronic approaches to language; interrelationship between diachronic and synchronic data; use of written records for historical studies; language classification; notion of language family, criteria for identifying family relationships among languages; definition of the word ‘cognate’; language isolates; criteria for typological classification—agglutinative, inflectional, analytic, synthetic and polysynthetic; basic word order typology—SVO, SOV, etc.

Linguistic Change and Reconstruction: Sound change; Neogrammarian theory of gradualness and regularity of sound change; genesis and spread of sound change; phonetic and phonemic change; split and merger; conditioned vs unconditioned change; types of change—assimilation and dissimilation, coalescence, metathesis^ deletion, epenthesis; Transformational-generative approach to sound change—rule addition, rule deletion, rule generalisation, rule ordering; social motivation for change; lexical diffusion of sound change; analogy and its relationship to sound change; reconstructing the proto-stages of languages, internal reconstruction and comparative method—their scopes and limitations; innovation and retention; sub grouping within a family; family tree and wave models; relative chronology of different changes.

Language Contact and Dialect Geography: Linguistic borrowing—lexical and structural; motivations—Prestige and need-filling ( including culture-based ); Classification of loan words—Loan translation, loan blend, calque, assimilated and unassimilated loans (tadbhava and tatsama); Bilingualism as the source for borrowing; dialect, idiolect; isogloss; methods of preparing dialect atlas, focal area, transition area and relic area.

Language Families of South Asia: Indo-Aryan, Dravidian-, Austro-Asiatic, Tibeto-Burman; language isolates—Bumshaski, Nahali—-their. geographical distribution, enumeration; characteristics.

Areal Features of South Asia: South Asia as a linguistic area—phonological—length contrast in vowels and consonants, retroflexion, open syllable structure; morphemic structure rules; morphological and syntactical—agglutination, ergativity, agreement; productive use of conjunctive participles; passives; causatives; echowords; phenomenon of reduplication; copulative compounds; compound verbs, relative clause construction; dative /genitive subject construction.

5. Socio-linguistics and Applied Linguistics

Language and Society: Speech community; verbal repertoire; linguistic and communicative competence; linguistic variability and ethnography of speaking; socio-linguistic variables; patterns of variation; regional, social and stylistic; restricted and elaborated codes; diglossia.

Languages in Contact: Types of bilingualism and bilinguals; borrowing; convergence; pidgins and creoles; language maintenance and shift.

Sociology of Language: Language planning; language standardization and modernization; language and power; literacy—autonomous us ideological.

Scope of Applied Linguistics: Language teaching; translation studies; lexicography; stylistics; speech pathology; mass media and communication; language and computers.

Language Learning and Language Teaching: First and second language learning; language acquisition in multilingual settings; behaviouristic and cognitive theories of language learning; social and psychological aspects of second language acquisition; methods, materials and teaching-aids in language teaching; Computer Assisted Language Teaching ( CALT ); types of tests and their

Paper III (Part A) Syllabus

[Core Group]


Phonetics: Phonetics as a study of speech sounds; articulatory and acoustic phonetics; mechanisms of speech production—air stream, phonation, oronasal process and articulation; classification of sounds; complex articulation—secondary articulation and coarticulation.

Acoustic Phonetics: Sound waves—frequency, amplitude; periodic complex harmonics; fundamental , frequency, resonance, filtering, spectrum, spectrogram, pitch, loudness, length; formants, transition, burst; voice onset time; aspiration; noise spectra; cues for place and manner.

Phonemics: Phoneme, Phone and allophone; contrast and complementary < distribution; preliminary and analytical procedures of phonemic analysis.

Generative Phonology: Two levels of phonological representation; phonological rules; distinctive features (Major class, Manner. Place, etc.), Abstractness controversy; Rule ordering types.

Lexical Phonology: Distinction between lexical and post-lexical rules; principles of lexical phonology-—structure preservation; strict cyclicity.


Types of Morphemes: Root, stem, base, suffix, infix, prefix, portmanteau morpheme; affixes vs clitics.

Morphological Processes: Derivational vs inflectional processes (conjugation and declension); primary us secondary derivation.

Level-ordered Morphology: Hierarchical organization of words; lexical us non-lexical categories; morphology—phonology interface.

Types of Compounding: Endocentric (karmadhaaraya, tatpurusha), exocentric (bahuvriihi) copulative compound (dvandva) and headedness of compounds; reduplication—morphological, lexical and semantic; non- concatenative morphology.

Morphology-Syntax Interface: Nominalization and the Lexicalist hypothesis; auxiliation (explicator compound verb); incorporation and the morphology—syntax interface.


General Notions: Structure and structure-dependence, diagnostics for structure; reference, co reference and anaphoric reference; deixis— Demonstratives, tense, pronominals; context; topic, focus, focusing devices; mood; thematic roles ( agent, patient, etc. ); grammatical relations ( subject, object, etc. ); case (nominative, accusative, etc.)—their interrelationships.

Phrase Structure: X-bar theory; head, complement, specifier; binary branching: S as IP, S-bar as CP; DP analysis of noun phrases; head-complement parameter.

Some Syntactic Operations and Constructions: Movement and trace: passive, raising, WH- movement (questions, relativization), topicalization, scrambling; adjunction and substitution; head-to-head movement, movement to SPL deletion (gapping and VP-deletion); ECM (exceptional case-marking), constructions, small clauses; clefts and psuedo clefts.

Some Principles of Grammar : Constraints on movement—Ross’s constraints explained in terms of Subjacency; Government and Proper Government; Case theory, case as motivation for movement; Anaphors and Pronouns; Binding Theory ( Principles A, B and C ); strong and weak cross-over; theta theory, theta marking; PRO as subject of infinitives; quantifiers ( universal and existential ); quantifier raising, scope ambiguity.


Meaning (descriptive, emotive, phatic); sense and reference, connotation and denotation; homonymy, hyponymy, antonymy, synonymy; propositions, ambiguity, specific vs generic; definite and indefinite; compositionality and its limitations; abihidha, laksana, vyanjana.

Pragmatics: Presupposition, entailment and implicature; speech acts, indexicals.

Formal Foundations: Membership, union, intersection, cardinality, powersets: mapping and functions; propositions, truth values, sentential connectives; arguments, predicates, quantifiers, variables.

Model-theoretic Semantics: Different models and interpretation; possible words; mood and modality; tense and aspect, counterfactuals.


Phonological Reconstruction: Comparative method, collection of cognates, establishing phonological correspondences; reconstruction of the phonemes of the proto-language based on contrast and complementation; internal reconstruction as opposed to comparative reconstruction; morphophonemic alternations as the source for reconstruction; recovering historical contrasts by comparing, alternating and non-alternating paradigms; accounting for exceptions to sound change—analogy, borrowing, onomatopoeia, the interplay of analogy and sound change; regularisation by analogy; paradigmatic analogy and pattern analogy; role of transparency in analogy; status of reconstructed forms, dialect variation in proto-language.

Borrowing: Lexical and structural; different types of borrowing-—cultural, intimate and dialect; classification of loanwords; impact of borrowing on language; pidgins and creoles.

Dialect Geography: Preparation of questionnaire; selection of informants and localities; elicitation of data; preparation of isogloss maps; deciding dialect and -sub-dialect areas: correlating political and cultural history with regional and social dialects.

Extensions of the Neogrammarian Theory: Social motivation of social change: study of sound change in progress; socio-linguistic studies of Martha’s. Vineyard. and New York City; lexical diffusion—concept and application,

Morphosyntactic Reconstruction, and Semantic Change; Phonological reconstruction applied to morphological reconstruction; phonological change leading to changes in morphology and syntax; syncretism, grammaticalisation and lexicalisation; principles of recovering grammatical categories and contrasts; semantic change—extension, narrowing, figurative speech, subreption, postulation of past-cultural systems—kinship and social system, environment, etc.


Speech as Social Interaction: Speech community and language boundaries; communicative competence; speech event and its components; rules of speaking; social significance of Gricean Maxims and conversational implicature; pragmatics of politeness; semantics of power and solidarity; social processes and linguistic structures; cross-cultural perspectives on speech events.

Linguistic Variability: Variation in linguistic behaviour; language and identity; restricted and elaborated codes; linguistic variables and their linguistic, social and psychological dimensions; language and social inequality; linguistic and social attitudes and stereotypes.

Language Contact: Bilingualism; bilingual proficiency; code-mixing and code-switching; effects of bilingualism on the individual and the society; languages of wider communication; lingua franca; language loyalty, language maintenance and shift; language convergence; pidginization and creolization.

Language Development: Language planning; corpus and status planning; codification and elaboration; language movements—State and societal interventions, e.g., writers and NGOs; script development and modifications; problems of linguistic minorities; literacy—socio-linguistic and political aspects.

Sociolinguistic Methodology : Sampling and tools; identification of socio-linguistic variables and their variants; data processing and interpretation; quantitative analysis; variable rules; ethnomethodology; participant observation; qualitative analysis of data.


Linguistics and Psycholinguistics : Language and other signalling systems: biological bases of human language—experimental studies of teaching language to primates, language in evolutionary context, brain-language relationship and its models, cerebral dominance and lateralization, bilingual brain, the critical period hypothesis; the different theoretical orientations— empiricist-behaviourist, biological nativist, and congnitive—interactionalist; language and cognition—-Linguistic relativity and perceptual categories.

Developmental Psycho-linguistics : First language acquisition and second language learning; bilingual acquisition, issues and processes in language acquisition; three periods in the history of child language studies—diary, large sample and longitudinal; stages of language acquisition; acquisition of formal aspects of language—speech sounds, lexical items, grammatical and syntactic categories; language and environmental factors—Motherese; second language learning—implications of first language acquisitions; social and psychological factors in second language learning; learning of reading and writing skills.

Language Processing : The processes of perception—comprehension and production; perceptual units and perceptual strategies; parsing and parsing strategies; steps in comprehension; sentence comprehension and discourse comprehension; mental representation of language and lexicon; relationship between comprehension and production; sentence and discourse strategies in comprehension and production; speech errors as evidence of language production.

Applied Psycho-linguistics : Aphasia and its clinical and linguistic classifications; anomia, and dyslexia; stuttering; language in mental retardation; language in schizophrenia; language loss in aging; language in the hearing-impaired; data from normative and pathological language and their use for assessment of speech and language impairment; therapeutic intervention.


Processes of Learning: Language as a formal system and as a major factor in communication; learning a language and learning through language; behaviourist and cognitive theories of language learning including—Skinner, Piaget and Chomsky, etc., learning and communicative strategies, focus on the learner.

Language Teaching Analysis: Goals of language teaching and needs of analysis —First and Second language acquisition, Linguistic theory and language teaching syllabus—methods and materials; the role of the teacher and teacher training; role of self-access packages; socio-linguistic and psychological aspects of language teaching.

Learner Output: Conceptualising language proficiency in multi-lingual settings; interaction between the learner’s languages and the target languages— Contrastive Analysis ( CA ), Error analysis and Interlanguage; Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills ( BICS ) and Cognitive Advanced Language Proficiency ( CALP ); types of tests and their validity and reliability.

Literacy: Conceptualising literacy; role of language in literacy; oralcy and literacy; literacy development and empowerment; State initiatives, campaign- based programmes and other non-governmental initiatives; literacy drives emergence and role of social movements.

Mass Communication: Role of language in mass communication; impact of mass media on language, types of language used in mass media e.g., news, advertising, editorials, etc.; language of mass media and social change.


Language Typology, Universals and Linguistic Relatedness: Language typology and language universals; Morphological types of languages—agglutinative, analytical (isolating), synthetic fusional (inflecting), infixing and polysynthetic (incorporating) languages. Formal and substantive universals, Absolute and statistical universals; Implicational and Non-implicational universals; Linguistic relatedness—Genetic, typological and areal classification of languages.

Inductive vs Deductive Approaches: Parametric variation and language universals; Word Order typology; Greenberg’s characteristics for verb final and verb medial languages and related features in the context of South Asian Languages.

Salient Features of South Asian Language Families: Phonetic, phonological, morphological, and syntactic features of Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic, and Tibeto-Burman language families of South Asia; Language contact and convergence with special reference to the concept of ‘India as a Linguistic Area’; Contact induced typological change; convergence and syntactic change.

Phonology, Morphology and Syntax of South Asian Languages: An in-depth study of retroflexion, vowel harmony, reduplication, echo formation, expressives ( onomatopoeia ), morphological, lexical and periphrastic causatives, explicator compound verbs, participles ( conjunctive, perfect, imperfect ), relative-correlative clauses, experiencer constructions ( dative/genitive subject ), anaphora, complementation, verb be, the quotative and agreement.


Making of a Dictionary; Dictionary entries—arrangement and information, meaning descriptions—synonymy, polysemy, homonymy, antonymy and hyponymy; treatment of technical terms vs general words.

Types of Dictionaries: Comprehensive and concise, monolingual and bilingual, general and learner’s, historical and etymological, dictionary of idioms and phrases, encyclopaedic dictionary, electronic dictionary, reverse dictionary, thesaurus and other distinguishing purposes and features of various types; difference between glossing, dictionary and lexicon.

Nature of Translation: Paraphrase, translation and transcreation; translation of literary text and technical text; theories of translation; use of linguistics in translation; linguistic affinity and translatability. ’

Methods of Translation: Unit of translation; equivalence of meaning and style; translation loss; problems of cultural terms; scientific terms; idioms, metaphors and proverbs; evaluation of translation; fidelity and readability; types of translation—simultaneous interpretation, machine aided translation, media translation ( dubbing, copy-editing, advertisement, slogans, jingles, etc. )

Nature and Methods of Stylistic Analysis: Style—stylistic individual, style, period, style as choice, style as deviation, style as riiti, style as alankaara; style as vyanjana ( vakrokti ) foregrounding; parallelism levels of stylistic analysis—phonological, lexical, syntactic and semantic.


Paper III (Part B) Syllabus

[Elective / Optional]


Introduction: Computational linguistics and its relation to allied disciplines in cognitive science—philosophy, psychology and artificial intelligence; a brief history of the area of inquiry—Babbage to von Neuman, computing machines from the abacus to the IBM PC; hardware—the basic components and peripherals of a digital computer; software—machine langauge, compilers; interpreters—information processing, structuring and manipulating data.

Phonology, Morphology and Lexicography : Finite state implementation of phonological rules, item- and arrangement-morphology and its implementation, item- and process-morphology; a brief introduction to KIMMO; morphological recognizers, analyzers and generators for Indian languages.

Computational Lexicography: The craft of dictionary making; the digital computer as a lexicographic tool; lexical databases and on-line dictionary— corpus-based dictionaries; lexical acquisition from Machine Readable Dictionaries (MRDs); major lexicographical projects—the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (LDOCE) and the Collins Cobuild Project.

Parsing, Syntax and Semantics : Parsing and generation, top-down and bottom up parsing; types of parsers; unification and unification-based grammars— Definite Clause Grammar (DCG), Generalised Phrase Structure Grammar (GPSG); Lexical Functional Grammar (LFG), Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG) and Tree Adjoining Grammar (TAG).

Reference and compositionality, Functions and arguments, Meanings of referring expressions and predicates; Meanings of determiners, quantifiers, adverbs, adjectives and prepositions; Putting

Corpus Linguistics: Corpus-building and corpus-processing, SGML and Text Encoding Initiative, Corpus tagging and Tree banks, Corpus projects—the Brown Corpus and Lancaster-Oslo Bergen ( LOB ) Corpus, the Survey of English Usage ( SEU ), Corpus and London-Lund Corpus of Spoken English ( LLC ), The Kolhapur Corpus of Indian English; the TDIL Corpus Project of the Deptt. of Electronics.

Language Technology: Natural language interface to databases, Cooperative response systems, Speech .technology—text-to-speech and speech-to-text systems, Machine ( aided ) translation; computer aided language teaching; text processing; Major European and American Projects; the Japanese Fifth Generation Initiative, Natural langauge processing in India.


Basic Issues in the Principles and Parameters Theory: Interaction of principles within certain parameters, language specific examples and the question of basic word order; problems with the theory.

From Principles and Parameters Theory to the Minimalist Program: Reasons for discarding D-structure and S-structure. How does the computational system work in the Minimalist Program? Functional categories and the significance of DP analysis; AGRsP, AGRoP, and Tense- Phrase; scope for innovation to account for language specific phrasal categories.

Some Key Concepts in the Minimalist Program: Spell-out, greed, procrastination, last resort, AGR-based case theory, multiple-spec hypothesis, strong and weak features; interpretable and non-interpretable features.

Transformational Components: The copy theory of Movement, its properties., motivation for move Alpha, LF and PF movement, checking devices and features of convergence.


Prosodic Phonology; The syllable, the Foot, the word, the phonological phrase, the International phrase, Generalizations based on prosodic units.

Auto segmental Phonology: Tone. Nasal spread, vowel harmony; C-V tier; Prosodic Morphology; feature hierarchy.

Non-derivational Phonology: Optimality theory—main theoretical assumptions: Constraint rankings.


Socio-Linguistics: Socio-linguistic perspective to the process of language change; social motivation and mechanisms of sound change. Language, ideology and social change, the power-politics of language standardization; Implications for literacy and school education; language and gender.

Communication Networks: Networks and speech and verbal repertoire, ‘Types of network, Redefining ‘speech community’ in terms of networks, Speech and multiple identities.

Ethnography of Communication and Ethnomethodology; ‘Talk’, ‘Discourse’ and ‘turntaking’; Redefining communicative competence; Communication and social structure.


Brain-language Relationship: Issues in neurolinguistics and linguistics aphasiology, cerebral dominance, lateralization and handedness; models of brain-language relationship—Classical connectionist, hierarchical, global and process models.

Brain Pathology and Language Breakdown: Aphasia and its classification; classical categories, linguistic account, overview of linguistic aphasiology, anomia and agrammatism; dyslexia and its classification.

Linguistics and Language Pathology: Use of linguistics in diagnosis and prognosis of language disorders; language pathology and normal language,

Language Pathology and Language Disorders; Stuttering; nature and analysis of language in psychopathological conditions; schizophrenic language: language in mental retardation.

Language Disorders and Intervention: Variation in language disorders; need and scope of intervention: therapeutic use of language.