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LINGUIST 2DD3 Stats For Language Research

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Victor Kuperman


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 510

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 20384


Office Hours: Fri 2:30-3:30

Course Objectives:


This is an introductory course to statistical methods custom-tailored to the needs of language researchers. No prior background in statistics or mathematics (beyond basic algebra) is required, but the course may move quickly through a number of analytical techniques.

By the end of the course, students should be able to identify analytical methods appropriate for a given numeric problem and perform basic statistical analyses of the data. They will develop basic programming and data processing skills in a statistical software environment. They should value data-driven scientific approaches to questions that are at the core of humanities as a discipline. They will develop research and analytical skills directly transferrable to, and in high demand in, a variety of a academic and professional settings.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

              - There are two textbooks for this course. Butler, Christopher S. (1985). Statistics in Linguistics. Oxford, Basil Blackwell.  While this is an old book, it is an excellent introduction to basic concepts. You can download it free from the course webpage on Avenue.

              - A second book will be used to introduce R. Verzani, John. (2014). Using R for introductory statistics. Boca Raton: Chapman & Hall. Edition 2. Available as an e-book from McMaster library and as a hard copy at the bookstore.

              - Other readings will be made available through links on Avenue. Note that some of those links will only work from campus computers. E-journals can sometimes be accessed from off-campus locations using your McMaster ID and password.

              - The assigned readings must be read before class.

Method of Assessment:


This is a hands-on course administered in a computer lab that consists of a combination of lectures and tutorials. Students learn by attending, and participating in lectures and lab sessions, and by completing the assigned readings and assignments.


              In-class work                                  10%

              Short HW assignments                 20%

              Long HW assignments                  15%

              Midterm test                                  25%

              Final exam                                      30%

n-Class Work

              - We will usually have in-class assignments, which you will upload to Avenue at the end of the class.

              - Save your work in R as a text file. On Avenue, go to In-Class Assignments and upload your file to the link of today’s date.

              - These assignments will be graded on a pass/fail basis.

              - This work cannot be made up at a later time: the link will disappear an hour after the class is over.


Short Homework Assignments

              - There will be a weekly assignment (under “Homework Assignments”) for most weeks.

              - The short assignment will be available on Avenue on Mondays after class.

              - You will submit your weekly short homework assignment on Avenue by the beginning of the Monday class the week after. This work cannot be made up at a later time.


Long Homework Assignments

              - There will be 2 to 3 long homework assignments that build on the knowledge gained over several classes.

              - Due dates are to be announced.


Midterm Test

              - The midterm will take place during class (date TBA).

              - If you miss a test, you must contact the instructor by email within 24 hours. You will either write a makeup test or have the weight of the test transferred to the other test, depending on the circumstances.


Final Exam

              - There will be a cumulative final exam during the exam period. It will be administered in the computer lab. The date is TBA.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Due Date Policies

Assignments submitted within 48 hours of the due date are subject to a 25% penalty. Assignments submitted 2 to 7 days after the due date are subject to a 50% penalty. Assignments are not accepted more than 7 days after the due date.


Exceptions to due dates and exam dates can be made only with medical documentation.  Submit your medical documentation to the office of the Dean of your Faculty using the appropriate forms. Please note that the instructor will NOT adjudicate whether the absence was justified or not. Note that the University's policy on medical notes is subject to change at any time in the event of a health emergency on campus.


Other Course PoliciesThe midterm and the final exam are open-book exams: the use of all class materials is permitted. Either oral or electronic communication with other individuals is strictly prohibited and will be penalized.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:





Read before class




B1 (read for Wed class)


Univariate data

Central tendency, dispersion


B2, B3

V1, V2.1, V2.2


Sampling distributions, sample statistics and population parameters (confidence intervals, standard errors)


B4, B5

V5, V7


Hypothesis Testing


B6, V8



Bivariate and multivariate statistics & correlation


V3, V4


Goodness of fit, Chi square

HW1 assigned

B9, V9


Reading week

HW1 due







Parametric tests I

HW2 assigned



Parametric tests II

HW2 due



Non parametric tests

HW3 assigned




HW3 due

B10, V11




B11, V10