|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 MWF 11:00-11:50
Room George R. Brown Hall 212 West
Instructor contact Office, Herring Hall 209; Tel. 348-6225;
email, kemmer AT rice.edu
Instructor office hours MW 1:15-2:30 and by appt.
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.
|Midterm #2||25% (was 20%, now changed)|
|10 Vocab Quizzes||0% (was 5%, now optional, usable as exam preparation)|
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. Optional Quizzes (total 10) will cover the Word Elements lists, or as I call them, Morpheme Sets, contained at the end of many of the chapters of the textbook.
Students are responsible for getting an Owlspace account to take the exams online. Course records will be maintained on the Owlspace 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 at least a B- 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.
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.
OED Online: Comprehensive on-line dictionary
Rice has access to an online version of the famous Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition. You have to be using an on-campus computer to access it, or else have a VPN connection to Rice from off-campus. The OED, both the unabridged print dictionary and its online version, is the gold standard of dictionaries. The online edition has recently been updated to include new words and citations up to about 2000.
Basic on-line dictionary
Merriam-Webster Online . Quick search capability allow you to get definitions instantly. However, the etymology information is not detailed enough for our purposes.
Among online dictionaries, only the Oxford English Dictionary Online, gives sufficient information on etymologies to be used as the source for etymologies presented in class. If you don't want to digest all the detail of the etymological information in the OED, use a large print dictionary such as the American Heritage Dictionary or other large desk dictionary.
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.
We viewed the first 2 parts of the Video series "The Adventure of English: 500-2000 A.D." The host of the series is the British television personality Melvyn Bragg. These 2 DVDs are now available for checkout at the Circulation Desk at Fondren. They are on 2-hour reserve until about Sept. 20. During this period you can check them out overnight after 10 p.m. ; they will be due 10 a.m. the next day. In the week before the first midterm, they will be on 2-hour loan exclusively (no overnight), to accommodate more people wanting to review for the exam.
Only the two parts we viewed in class are required viewing, but the rest of the episodes are enjoyable to watch and may help reinforce the material on the history of English for the exams.
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
Participation points for the course are based students' questions posed or answered in class; my perception of your presence as the course goes on; and submission vs. non-submission of the first 5 words assignment.
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||Some Loanwords in English|
|Morphemes||Roots and Affixes||Some Affixes of English, Native and Borrowed||Parsing||Sound Terminology|
|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
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
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
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. If there is anyone who knows mysql/php and would like to work on this project, I can hire a student to work on it for money.
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.
|Word.A.Day||World Wide Words|
|Word Play||Word Detective|
© 2002-2007 Suzanne Kemmer
Last modified 11 Sept 07