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

Provisional Course Schedule

Fall 2010

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.

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 two DVD episodes, 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 posted and announced well in advance.

I am still fitting the material to the MWF schedule (different from last time I taught the class.) The breaks and transitions may therefore be a little different than shown.

DayDate TOPIC Text and web readings; Assignments
MAug 23 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. Preview Questions about Words in English
WAug 25 Breadth and diversity of English. English around the world. Basic concepts: native vs. borrowed words; cognates; basic historical relations ("genetic relationships") of English to other languages: Germanic languages, Romance languages, Slavic languages and others. Chapter 1; Questions about Words in English
FAug 27 DVD: The Adventure of English, Part 1, narrated by Melvyn Bragg, viewed in class. (Also available on reserve in Fondren for checkout.) The beginnings of English. Celts and Romans. The Germanic migration. The Anglo-Saxons. The Viking invasions. The partition of England. Chapter 2 p. 19-28 (to middle of page). Start looking at web links for history of English on course home page.
MAug 30 Anglo-Saxon culture, literature, religious institutions. Alfred's kingdom of Wessex and its legacy. Chronology of the English Language. Lord's Prayer through time
WSept 1 Linguistic characteristics of Old English. Middle English and Early Modern English periods. Samuel Johnson, Jonathan Swift, Noah Webster. British vs. American English: 2 standard varieties. Basic concepts: standardization; standard variety; dictionaries; prescriptivism; language purists. Chapter 2, p.28 (middle)-37. English as a World Language, Varieties and Dialects, Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.Quiz Word Elements 1, start of class (on paper).
FSept 3 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.
MSept 6 Labor Day, no class. Continue exploring links above.
WSept 8 Announcement of opportunity for extra credit: create a short video on some topic relating to course topics. Early modern English; History of English to present. The King James Bible; Shakespeare's English. The King James Bible. William Shakespeare. The Chronology, scroll down to last two centuries.
FSept 10 More on standardization; differences among dialects; the link between dialect differences and language change. Sound change gives rise to dialects; dialects can turn into separate languages. Transition to new topic: Word formation (morphology). Basic concepts: Morphs: minimal units of word formation. Chapter 3 cont. Morphemes Quiz Word Elements 2, activated after class.
MSept 13 Word structure and word analysis. Kinds of morphs. Roots and affixes: differences. Native vs. borrowed words; word complexity. Prefixes and Suffixes and what they do in English. Function words in English. Differences between Latin/Greek vs. English word structure. Chapter 3 cont. Morphemes cont.; Roots and affixes. Study Guide for Midterm #1 posted.
WSept 15 Word formation types. Parsing. The nature of meaning: the flexibility of form-meaning relations. Links above, cont. Some definitions. Word formation processes; word formation types Quiz Word Elements 3, activated after class on Wednesday. Due in 24 hours.
FSept 17 Video in class (Part II, The Adventure of English: English Goes Underground) No extra reading; do any catch-up reading.
MSept 20 More on morphs. More parsing practice. Chapter 3 to end. Parsing Practice
WSept 22 Review. Midterm #1, activated after class.
FSept 24 Lisa Spiro gives short introduction to Digital Media Center re: making videos; video contest. 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, first part.
MSept 27 Allomorphy in Latinate words cont. More on assimilation processes. Ch. 4 cont; Definitions; Sound terminology preview.
WSept 29 Phonetics: the system behind our sounds. The sounds of English. Sounds vs. spelling. Mismatches. Phonetics is about sounds, not spelling. Ch. 4 end; Ch. 5; Sound terminology preview. Quiz Word Elements 4, activated after class.
FOct 1 Consonants and vowels. Ch. 5 cont; Sound terminology
MOct 4 More on consonants and vowels. Ch. 5 end; Ch. 6.
WOct 6 Diphthongs. Kinds of assimilation. Ch. 6. Quiz Word Elements 5, activated after class.
FOct 8 More types of phonological processes (deletion etc.) Morphologically-determined processes. Ch. 6 cont.
MOct 11 Midterm Break, No Class No reading.
WOct 13 Polysemy and semantic change. Metaphor (semantic extension by perceived similarity) and metonymy (semantic extension by contiguity, i.e. cooccurrence in time and space.) Spatial metaphor in Classical prefixes. Ch. 7, Quiz Word Elements 6, activated after class.
FOct 15 Relation of polysemy and meaning change. More types of semantic change: broadening and narrowing, amelioration, pejoration, eponymy. (we did not discuss these types much in class. Follow book discussion and discussion on Types of meaning change. Ch. 7 cont.
MOct 18 Introduction to the Rice Neologisms Database. Discussion of Word Journal entries: Kinds of words that can be collected, content of entries, level of detail. (Mode of entry into database still in process.) Links to etymonline site for etymologies. Ch. 7 cont.
WOct 20 Technological change and semantic change. Metaphor and metonymy: cognitive processes that can lead to change. Taboo and euphemism; the cycle of euphemism. Etymology. Word stories: the historical trajectory of words through time. Word Stories Quiz Word Elements 7 (Ch. 8), activated after class.
FOct 22 Etymologies cont. False etymologies and folk etymology. Reading and creating dictionary etymologies. Authoritative etymologies. Parsing vs. etymology. Look at some sample etymologies and citations (quotations) in the Oxford English Dictionary Online. Preview Overview of the OED Online. Also: review Parsing, section on Parsing vs. Etymology. Study Guide for Midterm #2.
MOct 25 Emergence of dictionaries in Europe; kinds of dictionaries. The Oxford English Dictionary. Lexicography. About the Oxford English Dictionary. Guide to OED Entries. Look at some sample entries on OED online.
WOct 27 Review. Midterm #2, activated after class
FOct 29 Classical morphology in English words. Nouns, number gender and case; adjectives; (if time), verbs. What happens when the words become English. Ch. 9; Classical morphology: nouns and verbs.
MNov 1 The verb system in Latin. "Stem vowels" as linkers. What happens to Latin verbs when they become English verbs; and what happens in derivational processes. Ch. 9 and Classical morphology: nouns and verbs cont. Amusing but true history: The Latin Language.
WNov 3 Participles and other weird forms. Spellings and pronunciations. Ch. 9 to end; start Ch. 11. Quiz Word Elements 8 (Ch 9).
FNov 5 Other changes. Changes in older loanwords from French (ca 1100-1450); derivational relations with Latin loanwords. (A few of these changes were discussed preliminarily in Ch. 6 and in class on Oct. 8 in the section on Other Sound Changes and Morphologically Determined Sound Changes.) Ch. 11 cont.
MNov 8 The Linguistic Relatives of English. The Indo-European language family. Comparison of cognates. Ch. 10 pp. 189-196. Sir William Jones quotation; Genetic relations of languages. Indo-European family tree; Indo-European cognates: family words
WNov 10 Recurrent sound correspondences. Reconstruction of vocabulary of a proto-language. Grimm's law. Ch. pp. 189-196 cont. Quiz Word Elements 9 (Ch 10).
FNov 12 Features of Proto-Indo-European; changes leading to Latin and Greek. Associating Latin and Greek morphemes with each other; and to English and other Germanic cognates. Ch. 10 pp. 198-200.
MNov 15 The Indo-Europeans: Who were they? What did they do? Ch. 10 pp. 196-97. Wikipedia article on the Proto-Indo-Europeans (Sections 1-2.1). Optional famous article: Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans by Calvert Watkins. The section on Language and Culture (and its subsections) and the Conclusion are especially recommended.
WNov 17 Indo-Europeans and their culture, end. Language families of the world. Quiz Word Elements 10 (First part of elements in Ch. 11). Websites in class.
FNov 19 Usage and variation. Review/re-introduction of a basic concept: Linguistic varieties. Types and styles of language defined by groups and contexts, including geography, socioeconomic class, age group, interest group, style (formal vs. informal, etc.), genre (written vs. spoken, newspaper writing, academic discourse, and other context types. Begin reading Ch. 8.
MNov 22 More on varieties. Geographical and social dialects (Kid of 24 English accents video; Voice recognition elevator video). Dialect coaches (dialect coach video). (Bon QuiQui video) Ch. 8 cont.
WNov 24 Slang and jargon. Characteristics of slang. Special lexical varieties -- Cockney rhyming slang, leet, others. Lexical change in slang. Lexical innovations. Slang as an important source of neologisms. Shibboleths. Last Quiz 11 on last part of word elements in Ch. 11, activated after class. Due Monday after T'giving, noon.
FNov 26 Thanksgiving holiday, no class. No reading. Be sure to read/review the part of Chapter 3 on word formation processes (derivation, compounding, clipping, blending, acronyms, etc. before your Word Journal is due).
MNov 29 Shibboleths cont. Language and power. The language of persuasion. The Story of the Shibboleth. (Last quiz due noon, Mon. Nov 29).
WDec 1 Prescriptivism as a weapon. Spelling and grammar shibboleths as a minefield for those with less access to education, and, basically, everyone under the power of prescriptive (and sometimes not knowledgable) people. Where words come from: two more processes: malapropisms, eggcorns. (eggcorns related to folk etymologies and reanalysis.) Extra Credit videos, part I. (short multimedia presentations on any aspects of English words). End Ch. 8. Study Guide for Midterm #3.
FDec 3 Wrap-up. Extra Credit videos part II. Completed Neologisms part of Word Journal due Friday Dec. 3 Neologisms and the information you collected on them must be entered into database, when we have access. Will advise via Owlspace. Review session outside class time, currently set for Friday evening 7:00 p.m., in our classroom unless otherwise announced. Midterm #3 activated Friday evening. Officially due midnight Friday but there is an extension of the time available to take it until Monday late late night.
S-T Dec 4-7 Study days, formerly known as Dead Week. Rice populated by zombies.
W-W Dec 8-15 Final Exam Week. No final exam in the class. Go do your other work.

© 2010 Suzanne Kemmer
Last modified 1 Dec 10