Words in English public website
Ling/Engl 215 course information
Rice University
Prof. S. Kemmer

Provisional Course Schedule

Fall 2009

With Assigned Readings from the
Textbook and Course Content Links

Topics may be slightly updated as course progresses. If there are any changes in deadlines they will be announced well in advance. Midterm dates are set.

In addition to the assigned readings specified in the schedule, students are responsible for reading the Course Content Links, from the bordered grid of links on the Course Information page as these links become activated on the web. (I will also gradually enter these links on this page.)

Exams will cover readings, the three DVD episodes (a third was added when the instructor had to go out of town), class lectures and discussions, the web materials in the Course Content Links and this page, and any materials distributed in class. The short vocabulary quizzes are based on the sets of "Word Elements" in the textbook (which I sometimes refer to as "Morpheme Sets", and listed at the end of most of the chapters). The quizzes taken all together will be worth 5% credit.

Any illness or other disaster that keeps a student from taking an exam or quiz during the assigned time must be reported to me (kemmer AT rice.edu) before the exam is due (if you can't notify me, then ask your parent or college master to do so). There are no make-up exams for non-emergency situations.

There will not be a final examination, but instead a third and non-comprehensive midterm.

I'll repeat this from above: Topics may be slightly updated as course progresses. If there are any changes in deadlines they will be announced well in advance. Midterm dates are set.

DayDate TOPIC Text and web readings; Assignments
TAug 25 Introduction. What do we know about English? (Or think we know?) How many words are there in English? What kind of a language is English? What language(s) are most closely related to English? Basic concepts: What's a word? What are "related languages"; ancestor/descendent languages? No reading. Can preview Questions about Words in English
ThAug 27 Breadth and diversity of English. English around the world. Basic concepts: native vs. borrowed words; cognates; synonyms; doublets (and triplets) and their historical rationale. Chapter 1; Questions about Words in English
TSept 1 The beginnings of English. Celts and Romans. The Germanic migration. The Anglo-Saxons. Chapter 2 p. 19-p.28 (middle of page). Lord's Prayer through time
ThSept 3 Anglo-Saxon culture, literature, religious institutions; the rise of the Kingdom of Wessex. Alfred's battle with the Vikings; the partition of England. (Library lost DVD; postponed) Chronology of the English Language
TSept 8 DVD: The Adventure of English, Part I, narrated by Melvyn Bragg, was viewed in class via YouTube. You can review it yourself by viewing it the same way on your computer. (It is in 5 parts.) Chapter 2, p.28 (middle)-37. English as a World Language, Varieties and Dialects, Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
ThSept 10 Middle English and Early Modern English. DVD: The Adventure of English Part II. Layers of Borrowings; Overview of the English Vocabulary. Chapter 2, focus on p.31(middle)-37. Maps: Visual aids on History of England and English (from course content links). Chronology of the English Language, Loanwords: Major periods of borrowing.
TSept 15 Quiz Word Elements 1. Early modern and modern period. Samuel Johnson, Jonathan Swift, Noah Webster. British vs. American English: 2 standard varieties. Basic concepts: standardization; standard variety; dictionaries; prescriptivism; language purists. William Shakespeare, The King James Bible. Also: Chronology, scroll down to last two centuries.
ThSept 17 Final remarks on history of English with remaining topics from above. Transition to Word structure: Morphology Chapter 3 beginning.
TSept 22 Quiz Word Elements 2. Announcement of opportunity for extra credit: create a short video on some topic relating to course topics. (Lisa Spiro presented short description of Digital Media Center.) Word structure and word analysis. Basic concepts: Morphemes (text refers to "morphs"); roots and affixes; derivation; inflection. Parsing. The nature of meaning: the flexibility of form-meaning relations. Chapter 3 cont. Morphemes, Roots and affixes Parsing Practice
ThSept 24 Morphemes: roots and affixes, cont. Parsing cont. Ch. 3 cont. Links above, cont. Some definitions. More Parsing Practice. Midterm #1 Review page
TSept 29 Quiz Word Elements 3. Word formation processes. Some review. Ch. 3 end. Word formation types
ThOct 1 Midterm #1 In class
TOct 6 Discussion of Midterm #1. Introduction to allomorphs: the variant forms of morphemes. The English plural morpheme and its allomorphs; allomorphy in Latinate words. Basic concepts: voicing of consonants; assimilation. Sound contexts affect the sounds speakers produce. Ch 4
ThOct 8 Quiz Word Elements 4. DVD: The Adventure of English Episode 8. English in the 20th Century. Ch. 4 cont; Definitions.
TOct 13 Midterm Break, No Class
ThOct 15 Quiz Word Elements 5. Phonetics: the system behind our sounds. Ch. 4 end; Ch. 5; Sound terminology
TOct 20 Consonants and vowels. Ch. 5 cont. Sound terminology
ThOct 22 Quiz Word Elements 6. Diphthongs. Kinds of assimilation. More types of phonological processes (deletion etc.) Morphologically-determined processes. Ch. 6.
TOct 27 Polysemy and semantic change. Metaphor and metonymy, broadening and narrowing, amelioration, pejoration, eponymy. Ch. 7 Types of Meaning change.
ThOct 29 Quiz Word Elements 7. Semantic change cont. Taboo and euphemism. Regularity and lack of regularity. More on metaphor and metonymy as cognitive processes that can lead to change. Word stories: historical trajectory of words through time. Ch. 7 cont. Word Stories
TNov 3 False etymologies and folk etymology. Reading and creating dictionary etymologies. The OED. Lexicography. Midterm #2 Review page End Ch. 7
ThNov 5 Midterm #2 rescheduled to this day. In class.
TNov 10 Classical forms in English Words. Nouns, number gender and case; adjectives, What happened to the classical inflectional affixes when they got to English. Nativization of inflectional morphology and other processes; variation. Ch. 9; Classical morphology: nouns and verbs
ThNov 12 Quiz Word Elements 8 (Ch 9). Discussion of Midterm #2 (rescheduled from Nov 10). More on Latin and Greek inflectional and derivational morphology: the systems. Participles and other elements. Spelling and pronunciation; Other changes Ch 9 cont., Ch. 11; Classical morphology: nouns and verbs. Amusement: The Latin Language.
TNov 17 Quiz Word Elements 9 (Ch. 10). The Linguistic Relatives of English. The Indo-European language family. Ch. 10; Calvert Watkins article. Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans. Article now under copyright so for our course, replaced by Wikipedia article, see next date. Also read: Genetic relations of languages
ThNov 19 Words New to You due: Upload to Owlspace Dropbox in the form of a Word file. The Indo-Europeans: Who were they? What did they do? Ch. 10 cont.; Wikipedia article on the Proto-Indo-Europeans (Sections 1-2.1). Also: Indo-European family tree
TNov 24 Quiz Word Elements 10. Usage and variation. Basic concepts: Linguistic varieties (types and styles of language defined by groups and contexts: geography, socioeconomic class, age group, interest group, style (formal vs. informal, etc.), genre (written vs. spoken, newspaper writing, academic discourse, and other context types). Lexical varieties; shibboleths. Read Ch. 8; the Story of the Shibboleth.
ThNov 26 Thanksgiving, no class.
TDec 1 Quiz 11, optional; or take and drop worst quiz score. Slang and jargon. Characteristics of slang. (Did not cover: Special lexical varieties -- Cockney rhyming slang, leet, others.) Lexical change in slang. Taboo and euphemism. Sources of new words. Creativity and Conventionalization. Extra Credit videos! (short multimedia presentations on any aspects of English words) Ch. 8 cont. Midterm #3 Review page
ThDec 3 Midterm #3 in class. (But see Dec. 7 entry) Completed Neologisms part of Word Journal due officially on Friday Dec. 4. Due to technical problems with database, there is a grace period until Wed. Dec. 9. Neologisms and the information you collected on them must be entered into database, when we have access. Will advise via Owlspace.
Sa-TuDec 5-8 Study days, formerly known as Dead Week.
MoDec 7 Make-up Day for Midterm #3 for those who are not able to take it in class Dec. 3. Time: 12:30 p.m., Place: our classroom, Herzstein 210.
We-WeDec 9-16 Final Exam Week No final exam in the class.
FrDec 25 Christmas Day Final date for instructors to submit final grades for all students for all Fall 2009 courses.

© 2009 Suzanne Kemmer
Last modified 6 Dec 09