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

Provisional Course Schedule

Fall 2011

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.

DayDate Topic Text and web readings; Assignments
MAug 22 Introduction. What do we know about English? (Or think we know?) What kind of a language is English? What language(s) are most closely related to English? Some basic concepts. What are "related languages"; "sister languages"; ancestor/descendent languages; Germanic languages; Anglo-Saxon/Old English? No reading. Preview Questions about Words in English; Lord's Prayer through time
WAug 24 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, Celtic, Slavic languages and others. Chapter 1; Questions about Words in English
FAug 26 DVD: The Adventure of English, Part 1, narrated by Melvyn Bragg, viewed in class. The beginnings of English. Celts and Romans. The Germanic migration: Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians sail to Britain and settle as farmers. Fusion of tribes into an Anglo-Saxon culture and nation. The Viking invasions. Chapter 2 p. 19-28 (to middle of page). View links for history of English on our course home page: the maps, chronology, etc. Chronology of the English Language to 10th century.
MAug 29 Anglo-Saxon culture, literature, religious institutions. Alfred's kingdom of Wessex and its legacy. DVD: The Adventure of English Part I. cont. The Viking conquest of the north and the partition of England. The Adventure of English Part II. The second big invasion of Anglo-Saxon England: The Norman Conquest. Consequences of the conquest. Chronology of the English Language to 1500. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Chapter 2, cont.
WAug 31 Adventure of English Part II, to end. Chapter 2, p.28 (middle)-37. Lord's Prayer through time. Maps: Visual aids on History of England and English (from course content links). Quiz Word Elements 1.
FSept 2 Layers of borrowings in the English vocabulary. Characteristics of different layers of loanwords. Nativization: Loanwords over time can become more like native English words. Changes in technology lead to changes in meaning and 'lexical fossils' of old technology. Finish Chapter 2; focus on p. 31(middle)-37. A Brief History of the English Language (introductory paragraphs); Chronology of English; Loanwords: Major periods of borrowing.
MSept 5 Labor Day, no class. Continue exploring links above.
WSept 7 The emergence of Early Modern English: the language of Jonson, Marlowe and Shakespeare in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. The King James Bible. Modern English, 18th century: Samuel Johnson, Jonathan Swift, Joseph Addison; the American 'founding fathers'. 19th century: Noah Webster. British vs. American English: 2 standard varieties. Basic concepts: standardization; standard variety; dictionaries; prescriptivism; language purists. Announcement of opportunity for extra credit: create a short video on some topic relating to course topics. The King James Bible. William Shakespeare. The Chronology of English, scroll down to last two centuries. Explore the Luminarium to see texts in various periods. Also see Words and Technological change to see some of the lexical changes that have come about through technology. Also, English as a World Language, Varieties and Dialects.
FSept 9 Word formation (morphology). Basic concepts: Word elements or morphs: minimal units of word formation. Kinds of morphs. Roots and affixes: differences. Affixes: Prefixes and suffixes. Native vs. borrowed words; characteristics. Differences between Latin/Greek vs. English word structure. Chapter 3 cont. Morphemes. Roots and affixes. Quiz Word Elements 2, activated after class (6pm).
MSept 12 Word formation in English: Word structure and word analysis. Complexity of Greek/Latin (Classical) words. The many suffixes of English. Many adjective suffixes. Borrowed morphology in English: Latinate suffixes. Parsing. Chapter 3 cont. Morphemes and Roots and affixes, cont. Some affixes of English. Definitions.
WSept 14 The functions of prefixes vs. suffixes. Word formation types. The nature of meaning: the flexibility of form-meaning relations. Word formation processes; word formation types Quiz Word Elements 3, activated after class on Wednesday. Due Thursday 11:55 pm.
FSept 16 Video in class (Part IV, The Adventure of English) Ch. 3 to end.
MSept 19 More on morphs. Parsing practice; etymologies (in game format). Chapter 3 to end. Parsing Practice
WSept 21 Short introduction to Digital Media Center for info about how students can get equipment/facilities to make videos; announcement of Rice video contest. Announcement of 5% extra credit for this class for making a short video (3-5 mins) about some aspect of English words.

FSept 23 Review. Study Guide for Midterm #1. Midterm #1, activated in evening (as soon as we can). End of window of accessibility: Sunday 11:55 p.m.
MSept 26 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; Definitions; Sound terminology preview.
WSept 28 Allomorphy in Latinate words cont. More on assimilation processes. Phonetics: the system behind our sounds. Ch. 4 end; Ch. 5; Sound terminology preview. Quiz Word Elements 4, activated after class.
FSept 30 The sounds of English. Sounds vs. spelling. Mismatches. Phonetics is about sounds, not spelling. Ch. 5 cont; Sound terminology
MOct 3 Consonants and vowels. Ch. 5 end; Ch. 6.
WOct 5 More on consonants and vowels. Diphthongs. Kinds of assimilation. Ch. 6. Quiz Word Elements 5, activated after class.
FOct 7 More types of phonological processes (deletion etc.) Morphologically-determined processes. Greek and Latin numerals. Borrowing pattern-- Especially in compounds: where whole words were borrowed, Latin almost always goes with Latin, Greek with Greek. Telling Latin from Greek loanwords. Ch. 6 cont.
MOct 10 Midterm Break, No Class No assiged reading; Can start on Ch. 7 to get a jump on next topic.
WOct 12 Polysemy and semantic change; their relation. Polysemy in suffixes and prefixes. Finite words, infinite concepts. (cont. on Friday). Some motivations for change in meaning. 1) Technological change and semantic change; 2) speaker expressiveness ('creative variation'); 3) economy ('abbreviation'). Ch. 7. Technology and semantics; Types of meaning change. Quiz Word Elements 6, activated after class but due Friday night 11:55 p.m.
FOct 14 Polysemy cont. Paths of meaning change; radial categories. Two frequent types of change: Metaphor (semantic extension by perceived similarity or parallel) and metonymy (semantic extension by contiguity, i.e. cooccurrence in time and space.) Metaphor and metonymy as cognitive processes in speakers/hearers that can lead to change; as well as types of changes (viewed after a change has become conventionalized). Spatial metaphor in Classical prefixes (e.g. hyper-, hypo-, super-, sub- and others) Ch. 7 cont.
MOct 17 Spatial metaphor cont. More kinds of semantic change (book: 'results' of change): broadening and narrowing, amelioration, pejoration, eponymy. Start looking at Word Stories. What types of change can you identify in these examples? Discussion of Word Journal entries: Kinds of words that can be collected, content of entries, level of detail. Introduction to the Rice Neologisms Database. Etymology Online. Ch. 7 cont.
WOct 19 More metaphors. More kinds of change cont. from above; Taboo and euphemism; the cycle of euphemism. Etymology. Word stories: the historical trajectory of words through time. Word Stories; More examples of semantic change Quiz Word Elements 7 (Ch. 8), activated after class. Review 2.
FOct 21 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. Read General Info about the OED. Preview Overview of the OED Online. Also: review Parsing, section on Parsing vs. Etymology. Study Guide for Midterm #2
MOct 24 Emergence of dictionaries in Europe; kinds of dictionaries. The Oxford English Dictionary. Lexicography. History of dictionaries and the OED; About the Oxford English Dictionary. Guide to OED Entries. Look at some sample entries on OED online.
WOct 26 Review. Midterm #2, activated after class
FOct 28 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.
MOct 31 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 2 Participles and other weird forms. Spellings and pronunciations. Ch. 9 to end; start Ch. 11. Quiz Word Elements 8 (Ch 9).
FNov 4 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 7 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 9 Recurrent sound correspondences. Reconstruction of vocabulary of a proto-language. Grimm's law (first part). Ch. pp. 189-196 cont. Quiz Word Elements 9 (Ch 10).
FNov 11 Class cancelled due to instructor fall. Start reading Wikipedia article linked below.
MNov 14 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. The Indo-Europeans: Who were they? What did they do? Ch. 10 pp. 196-200. 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 16 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 18 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 21 More on varieties. Geographical and social dialects Ch. 8 cont.
WNov 23 Class cancelled due to instructor illness. Last Quiz 11 on last part of word elements in Ch. 11, activated after class. Due Monday after T'giving.
FNov 25 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 28 Language variation cont. Shibboleths: Language as a group-defining tool. Language and power. 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. 3 video clips (in Owlspace Resources in folder English Dialects): (1) Kid of 24 accents in English, native and foreign; (2) Voice Recognition Elevator; (3) Getting rid of dialects; the Dialect Coach. The Story of the Shibboleth.
WNov 30 Language peeves. Prescriptivism as a weapon. Extra Credit videos (short multimedia presentations on any aspects of English words). End Ch. 8. Study Guide for Midterm #3. Also review Word formation processes and types. The Rice Neologisms Database is up and ready to receive your entries. Be sure to review the instructions at Word Journal before entering your words, so that you get the right information in the right fields. Review session TBA.
FDec 2 As time permits: Slang and jargon. Characteristics of slang. Special lexical varieties: Cockney rhyming slang, others. (Wikipedia page on Cockney Rhyming Slang is useful.) Lexical innovations. Slang as an important source of neologisms. (NOT COVERED OR TESTED:) Two more word formation types: malapropisms and 'eggcorns' (will put up optional links). Wrap-up/review. Slang page. Completed Word Journal due Friday 12/2, 11:55 p.m. Neologisms and the information you collected on them must be entered into database. Small grace period: till Sunday 11:55 p.m. (Trying to make your Hell Week a little less hellish!). A MicroSoft Word file uploaded to your Dropbox on Owlspace will be so helpful! Midterm #3 activated Friday as soon as possible. Due Friday 11:55 p.m. Grace period until Monday 11:55 p.m.
S-T Dec 3-6 Study days, formerly known as Dead Week. Rice populated by zombies.
W-W Dec 7-14 Final Exam Week. No final exam in the class. Take a nap instead. Then go do your other work. GOOD LUCK ON FINALS AND PAPERS!

© 2011 Suzanne Kemmer
Last modified 29 Nov 2011