Words in English
Linguistics/English 215
Rice University
Prof S. Kemmer


Midterm #2 will cover chapters 5, 6, 7, 9, and 11. By now you should know the broad outlines of the history of the language; but the MAIN focus of this exam will be Phonetics (including some sound terminology; for quick review see the Sound Terminology page) and some associated allomorphy; semantic change, etymology, classical morphology in English, and classical expressions in English.

Some abilities you should have by now:

  • Ability to recognize morphemes in words despite their occurrence in somewhat different forms (allomorphs)
  • Increased parsing ability
  • Increased understanding of word formation processes, particularly for new words
  • Increased ability to judge the likeliest source language for a given word, based on knowledge of characteristics of loanwords from different languages
  • Ability to judge relative position in the mouth of particular sounds
  • Ability to recognize and give examples of sounds of different classes (with more focus on ones we studied in class)
  • Ability to recognize and produce examples of words illustrating various sound processes like assimilation, deletion, etc.
  • ability to recognize and produce examples of various types of semantic change
  • knowledge of some specific word histories discussed in class
  • knowledge of some of the basic categories of Latin and Greek morphology
  • recognition of particular morphemes and parts of morphemes in English words that reflect categories of Latin and Greek morphology
  • knowledge of some classical expressions and abbreviations in English


    consonants                        fricative
    voicing                           affricate
    larynx (voice box), vocal chords  nasal
    place of articulation             liquid
    lips, bilabial                    approximant
    labiodental                       lateral
    interdental                       voicing assimilation
    alveolar, alveolar ridge          place assimilation
    palatal-alveolar                  manner assimilation
      ( = alveo-palatal)              partial, total assimilation
    hard palate, palatal              vowels
    soft palate (velum), velar        vowel frontness: front/central/back
    glottis, glottal                  vowel height: high/mid/low
    manner of articulation            diphthong
    stop (plosive)                    
    Semantic change
    etymology                         euphemism
    polysemy                          taboo
    widening (generalization)         amelioration
    narrowing (specialization)        degeneration, pejoration
    metaphor                          synechdoche
    metonymy                          eponymy
    Latin and Greek morphology
    inflection, inflectional          case
      categories                      nominative (subject case)
    grammatical gender                accusative (direct object case)
    masculine, feminine, neuter       genitive (possessive case)
    noun declension                   dative (indirect object case)
    grammatical number                singular, plural, [dual]
    stem                              verb conjugation classes
    stem vowel (= thematic vowel) (said of the distinguishing vowel in
      conjugation classes)
    participle                        present participle
    past passive participle

    © 2004 Suzanne Kemmer

    Last modified 31 Oct 04