|The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary. --James D. Nicoll|
Meetings Tues/Thurs 1:00-2:15
Room Herring Hall 100
Instructor contact Office, Herring Hall 209; Tel. 348-6225;
email, kemmer AT rice DOT edu
Instructor office hours Tuesdays 10:45-11:50 a.m.; Wednesdays, 1:30-2:30p.m.
TA contact Malcolm Eckel, meckel AT rice DOT edu
TA office hours Monday evenings 7:30-8:30 p.m., Wiess College 123
As far as possible, students will be encouraged to make their own investigations and discuss their findings and questions about words in class. Students will work to increase their mastery of English vocabulary from the technical, literary, scientific and other domains by acquiring recurrent morphemes and words incorporating them; and by generally increasing their awareness of the structure, history, and use of English words.
|10 Vocab Quizzes||5%|
In addition to assigned readings specified on the syllabus, students are responsible for reading class materials on the web (below) as they become activated. Exams will cover readings, class discussions, and these class web materials. Quizzes (total 10) will cover the Morpheme Sets contained in an Appendix of the Denning and Leben textbook.
Students are responsible for getting a WebCT account to take the exams and quizzes online. Course records will be maintained on the WebCT site and will be made accessible to each student as far as is possible.
The quantity and nature of the material is set with the expectation that if a Rice student (i.e. a student preselected for academic ability) does everything required in the course, spends a few hours a week studying the material, and takes the Word Journal assignment seriously, it should be possible to get a B- or above grade in the course.
To pass the class, a student needs 50% or more of the total points. This is expected to be well below average performance, but it is acceptable for passing given the amount and nature of the material.
The top 10% of the course scores are guaranteed A's. The total A range (A+ if any; A; and A-) is expected to embrace about the top 20% of the student score range, with the exact cutoff depending on performance groups. In some years it has reached 25% when the scores of a fair number of students clumped together to make a meaningful divide between them impossible.
Desk reference dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary or other good college-level desk dictionary (not pocket dictionary). I recommend you have such a dictionary in your room, for this course and all other reference purposes.
Comprehensive on-line dictionary
Rice has access to an online version of the famous Oxford English Dictionary. You have to be using an on-campus computer to access it, or else have a VPN connection to Rice from off-campus.
OED Online. Accessible to the Rice community. This dictionary is the gold standard of dictionaries. It has recently been updated to include new words and citations up through the 1990s.
Basic on-line dictionary
WWWebster's Online Dictionary. Guide to using this dictionary is at Using the Dictionary. Includes things like how to do wild-card searches, using search results, etc.
Note: On-line dictionaries, with the exception of the Oxford English Dictionary, do not give sufficient information on etymologies to be used as the source for etymologies presented in class. Use the American Heritage or other large desk dictionary for this purpose.
Additional resources for this course
See Online and Other References.
The Word Journal is covered under the Honor Code as well: you have to to 'catch' the words in use yourself -- that means you must hear or read them in a real context, and not take them from anyone else's written or online discussion of them as words; and your definitions for the words must be in your own words. See the three links below under Honor Code issues for further explication.
The Word Journal will end up kind of long, if you do it right. That is why it is advisable to use the whole semester to collect and write about the words. There is nothing worse than trying to find a whole bunch of words and think of things to write about them in a short period of time. The project will go smoothly if you do a little at a time and keep up with the class so you can use concepts from the course in your observations about the words.
To help ensure that you are at least collecting words during the semester, and hopefully thinking abut them too, we will have a an assignment due before midterm in which you will submit 5 words, with definitions, that you have collected (no full write-ups necessary); and another due later, in which you will submit another five words, this time with draft writeups.
The 9 Morpheme Sets on which the Vocab Quizzes are based are in the textbook as well as on the WebCT pages. You can test yourself on the morpheme sets online by using the Morpheme Flashcards. These were scripted by Jenn Drummond, a former student who took this class some years ago. To use them, you just choose a Morpheme Set, and various morphemes from it will come up on the screen in a randomized fashion. As a morpheme appears, think to yourself what the meaning is. Click on the answer to check yourself, or if you don't know the answer. When you're ready to move on to another, click on Next.
We viewed two parts, Disks 1 and 3, of the video series "The Adventure of English: 500-2000 A.D." on DVD in class. (Disk 2 seemed scratched in class but they tell me there is nothing wrong with it and it can be viewed.) The host is the British television personality Melvyn Bragg. I have placed all 8 parts on reserve in the Fondren Library Reserve room under Ling 215. You can take them out overnight until next week; in the week before the first midterm, they will be on 2-hour reserve to give more people a chance to view them. Only parts 1 & 3 are required viewing, but the rest are enjoyable to watch.
These lists of relevant terminology will be linked in the week before each exam is activated.
Midterm #1 Review
Midterm #2 Review
Final Exam Review Part I
Final Exam Review Part II
Students are welcome, in fact encouraged, to talk about their Word Journals with classmates, as long as they don't use for their Journals words collected from other Ling 215 students (current or former). Some people will come up with some of the same words independently, but that's OK if you caught the word 'in the wild' yourself. Your own journal entry for the word (all of the writing you submit for these assignments) should be original to you of course.
To avoid unclarity about academic standards relating to use of the World Wide Web, these standards are posted on the following links:
Students should consult these before using the web to produce coursework (in this or any course!!)
| Questions about
words in English
|English as a World Language||Some Dialects of English||Chronology of the English Language||The Lord's Prayer in English Through Time|
|Beowulf||Excerpt: Anglo-Saxon Chronicle||Viking Invasions in Europe||The Bayeux Tapestry||Harold, King of the English|
|The Canterbury Tales||Caxton, First Printed Book in English||The King James Bible||William Shakespeare||Some Loanwords in English|
|Morphemes||Roots and Affixes||Some Affixes of English, Native and Borrowed||
|Word Stories||Semantic Change||Classical morphology||The Latin Language||The Story of the Shibboleth|
|Sir William Jones Quote||Genetic Relationships of Languages||Proto-Indo-European||PIE cognates||Indo-European Family Tree|
maps of Britain from various centuries (The most relevant ones are
linked in the proper order below, with others from elsewhere.)
Map: Germanic tribes arrive in England from the Continent, starting 410 a.d.
Map: Tribal control ca. 550 a.d.
England prior to Viking attacks and before rise of Wessex (700s)
Viking Invasions in Europe (800s and later)
England after rise of Wessex and after partition between Anglo-Saxons and Danes (800s)
The Danes take the whole thing: England under Canute, Scandinavian king (1014-1035)
Dominions of William I, Post-Conquest
A Dictionary of Old English
Electronic Middle English Dictionary
The Lord's Prayer in English Through Time
Excerpt: Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
About the Bayeux Tapestry
View the Whole Bayeux Tapestry
Harold, King of the English
Canterbury Tales, First Page of Prologue
The Canterbury Tales, Digital Facsimile
Caxton, First Printed Book in English
The King James Bible: Source of common phrases in Modern English
William Shakespeare: His Dramatic and Linguistic Legacy
Recent translations of Beowulf and a high budget movie that was >released in November 2007 can make this epic come to life for those interested in ancient Germanic stories (ultimately, the same source from which J.R.R. Tolkien created The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy). The movie homepage and other links are on our Resources Page under the heading for Beowulf. The links are optional, but recommended, and in the case of the movie, very cool.
This database can be accessed at: The Rice University Neologisms Database.
It is still a work in progress and will be fixed up to include full searchability on all fields, similar to an online dictionary like the Oxford English Dictionary Online. Eventually it will be moved to a production server.
Earlier incarnations of class neologism collections:
Neologisms, Fall 2003.
New Word Journal Interactive, 1998-2002 Web interface. Designed by Jenn Drummond. Click on the link under Output near the bottom, "View a list of existing entries", to see the collection of words.
New Words in English, 1996-97 A collection of new words (neologisms) begun in Fall 1996 from Word Journal entries by students in this class.
For a fuller list, see the Online and Other References link. But the following are some of my favorites:
|Word.A.Day||British-American Dictionary||World Wide Words||Word Spy|
|Word Play||Word Detective||Online Etymology Dictionary||Language Log|
© 2002-2005 Suzanne Kemmer
Last modified 12 May 2011