EN 420: History of the English Language

MWF 1-1:50


Home -- Policy Statement -- Syllabus -- Research Links


Instructor: Dr. Amie A. Doughty

Office: 301 KJS Library

Office Hours: MWF 11:00-11:50, TR 10:00-11:00, and by appointment

Phone: 635-2378

E-mail: adoughty@lssu.edu

Web Address: http://www.lssu.edu/faculty/adoughty

Required Text:

Crystal, David. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. 2nd ed. 1995. New York: Cambridge UP, 2003.

Course Objectives: This course is meant to introduce students to the history of the English language. The focus will naturally be on language change. We will examine not just how English has changed phonologically, morphologically, syntactically, and lexically, but why the language changes may have occurred from a social perspective. By the end of the semester, you should have a solid understanding of the development of English from its Proto Indo-European roots to the present, including worldwide variations.

Course Policies:

Course Format: Due to the nature of the materials we will cover in class, I will frequently need to lecture about the specific topics we cover. I will, however, try to limit the lectures (for your sake and mine). We will also do some pronunciation work with literary texts from various periods in English, we will work on in-class exercises about the language changes, and we will watch several episodes from The Story of English series produced by PBS in 1986. When possible, we will have class discussions. Always feel free to ask questions during class, whether I’m lecturing or not.

Attendance: Each of the language periods we study in this class will build on the previous ones. As a result, if you miss class, you may have some difficulty following the new discussion. If you must miss class, get notes from a classmate. If you do not understand a concept you missed, make arrangements to see me during my office hours so that we can go over the material. It is your responsibility to make up any work that you miss.

Assignments: Your grade will be based on 6 different assignments. Please note that you must submit all assignments to pass the course, though submitting them all does not guarantee you a passing mark:

û Homework/Quizzes—Occasionally I will assign homework for you to complete. You will also be required to take several quizzes, both written and oral. For the oral quizzes, which will take place in my office, you will have to read short passages of texts from Old English, Middle English, and Early Modern English. We will go over the readings in class several times before you will have to read them for me. (10%)

û Article analyses—For the Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English, and Modern English (including World Englishes) sections of the course, you will be required to find a journal article about that period (not from the internet), read it, and submit a written summary (about 1/3 of the paper) and analysis of the article (2/3 of paper). Do not use book reviews. Your chosen article may be about literature or history from the time period, but the focus of should be language use. Each analysis should be approximately 3-4 pages long. Attach a copy of the article to the analysis when you submit it.(20%)

û Exam 1—Take-home, due14 Feb, by 5 in my office. (15%)

û Exam 2—Take-home, due 28 Mar, by 5 in my office. (15%)

û Exam 3—Take-home, due Wednesday, 27 April, by 5 in my office. (15%)

û Research Project—You will complete a major research project (10-15 pages long, due 22 April by 5 in my office) about any aspect of language and a short presentation (5-10 minutes) about that research (due the last week of classes). Your topic can be anything to do with language, from pre-Old English origins to present day languages. You may focus on literature in your paper, but if you do so, you must have a linguistic perspective on it. Start with a broad topic and narrow it as you conduct your research. Past topics have included an analysis of language in Shakespeare and in Chaucer; the history of swearing; the background of the names for days of the week and for months; the role of language in Pygmalion; a history of Black English; a history of Spanglish; an examination of gravestone typography (this was a field work project); an examination of Romany; language acquisition; translations of the Bible (and the King James Version only movement); and the role of Noah Webster in American English. Do not rely on internet sources. You will be required to give brief updates on your research in class on Jan 31, March 7, and Apr 4. (25%)

All assignments should be in MLA format. If you do not know what MLA format looks like, consult a handbook, go to the Writing Lab, or come see me.

Grammar and Mechanics: All of you are competent, experienced writers. As such, I expect your papers to have correct grammar and mechanics and to be proofread. Significant errors, especially proofreading errors, will lower your paper grade. For papers of 5 pages or fewer, for every 5 different grammar and mechanical errors (including MLA formatting errors), you will lose 1 letter grade. For papers longer than 5 pages, the number of different errors at which a paper grade is lowered by a letter equals the number of pages in the paper (thus a 12 page paper will lose a letter grade if it has 12 different errors). There is no limit to the number of letter grades you can lose (past students have lost as much as 30 points due to sloppy work), so take the time to edit and proofread your work.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the passing off of another's work (whether quoted, paraphrased or summarized) as your own without proper documentation, including on take-home exams. If you are caught plagiarizing, you are subject to a variety of punishments, including expulsion from the university. Do your own work.

Late Work: I will accept work no more than one week late. All late work will lose 10%. If you know that you won’t be able to get work in on time, see me before the due date, and we may be able to make arrangements for an extension.

Students Accommodations and Support Services: In compliance with Lake Superior State University policy and equal access laws, disability-related accommodations or services are available. Students who desire such services are to meet with the professor in a timely manner, preferably the first week of classes, to discuss their disability-related needs. Students will not receive services until they register with the Resource Center for Students with Disabilities (RCSD). Proper registration will enable the RCSD to verify the disability and determine reasonable academic accommodations. RCSD is located in the Library 101. The telephone number is (906) 635-2454.