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


This page has been updated to include some general exam information given in the Review Session on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2005.

Midterm #2 will cover chapters 4, 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; parsing; semantic change, etymology, classical morphology in English, and classical expressions in English.

The exam is designed to be done in an hour and a half or less. But 2 and a half hours is allowed, because it is not meant to be a race against the clock. Do the exam in one sitting, with only short breaks (if necessary). Please, while your exam is activated, no naps, chattings with friends, etc. The exam is designed to be done in one sitting in a quiet place. Having conversations with others, or even conversations going on around you, could lead to accidental violations of the Honor Code.

Speaking of which, we just realized we forgot to put the Honor Code as a question on this exam. The exam IS covered by the Honor Code, so please pledge it in your hearts.

SK comment--I take the Honor Code very seriously and so should you, in part because it makes our lives SO much better here at Rice! No exam police like at other universities!! Flexible exam schedules!! Please don't abuse the freedom we all benefit from.

There are a total of 75 questions and 75 points. (Some questions of the same type are grouped under one number so don't worry if the numbered list of questions only goes up to 66 or so.)

Most questions are multiple choice. Pay attention to what they ask; some ask you to pick out the one statement that is TRUE; others ask you to pick out the one statement that is NOT TRUE.

There are two sets of matching questions (totalling about 11 points). You will be able to preview unordered lists of the items to be matched. There are a few simple true/false questions. And, there are a few "fill-in-the-blank" questions in which you have to come up with very short answers (generally one or two words).

In short, there are no essays or paragraph-answers on this exam.

Information from the page wordstories.html in the links grid on the Course Information page will not be included on the exam.

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 (not the focus of this exam, though)
  • 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/rules of allomorphy like assimilation, deletion, etc.
  • Ability to understand the system of relations of sounds, as shown by understanding of 'phonetic analogies' such as "p is to t as b is to d".
  • Ability to recognize and produce examples of various types of semantic change
  • Knowledge of some specific word histories discussed in class or in the book (the web link wordstories.html on the links grid will not be used this year).
  • 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 (There is only a very small amount of this on this exam; Quiz 8 will have 4 or 5 expressions on it though).


    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
    homonymy                          amelioration
    widening (generalization)         pejoration (degeneration)
    narrowing (specialization)        
    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, theme vowel) (said of the distinguishing vowel in
      conjugation classes)
    participle                        present participle
    past passive participle

    © 2005 Suzanne Kemmer

    Last modified 7 Nov 05