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

Provisional Course Schedule

Fall 2013

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 26 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 28 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 30 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.
MSept 2 Labor Day Holiday. No class. Continue exploring links above.
WSept 4 Anglo-Saxon culture, literature, religious institutions. Alfred's kingdom of Wessex and its legacy. DVD: The Adventure of English Part 1, cont. The Viking conquest of the north and the partition of England. Chapter 2, cont. to Middle English. Chronology of the English Language to 1066. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Maps: Visual aids on History of England and English (from course content links).
FSept 6 The second big invasion of Anglo-Saxon England: The Norman Conquest. Consequences of the conquest. Adventure of English Part II (at least some of it in class. Can review/view rest by checking it out of Reserves at Fondren.) Chapter 2, cont. to Middle English. Lord's Prayer through time. Quiz Word Elements 1 (Ch. 1 only), activated after class . Reminder: All quizzes, tests, midterms are online, closed book/notes/electronic devices, pledged, timed but generous amount allowed. Do not discuss exams or quizzes with others until all are submitted and graded. You might get into an Honor Code violation if the conversation unexpectedly alludes to test materials others have not seen yet.
MSept 9 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. Chapter 2, look through for examples of borrowings of different periods. A Brief History of the English Language (introductory paragraphs); Chronology of English; Loanwords: Major periods of borrowing. Quiz Word Elements 1 due (quizzes all due before class--check due times.)
WSept 11 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. Chapter 2 to end, Modern English and Summary. 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. Quiz Word Elements 2, activated after class
FSept 13 Word formation (morphology). Basic concepts: Word elements or morphs: minimal units of word formation. (Later, more finely defined: morphemes.) Kinds of morphs. Roots and affixes: differences. Affixes: Prefixes and suffixes. Word analysis - taking words apart into morphemes (= Word parsing). Differences between Latin/Greek vs. English/other Germanic word structure. Compounding in the two types of languages. Latin and Greek as inflectional languages. Chapter 3 Morphemes. Roots and affixes. Quiz Word Elements 2 due.
MSept 16 Word formation in English: Word structure and word analysis. Inflectional vs. derivational morphology. Complexity of Greek/Latin (Classical) words and their parsing. Borrowed morphology in English: Latinate suffixes (= suffixes from Latin and French). The many suffixes of English and their functions. Adjective suffixes and verb suffixes. Chapter 3 cont. Morphemes and Roots and affixes, cont. Some affixes of English. 2 most frequent word formation types: Compounding and affixation. Definitions. Review Terms 1
WSept 18 Compounding and affixation cont. The nature and functions of prefixes vs. suffixes in English. Affixes of English cont. Noun-forming, verb-forming, and adjective-forming suffixes. The nature of meaning: the flexibility of form-meaning relations. Chapter 3 to p. 56 first paragraph (before "Conversion"). Types of Word Formation up to start of "blending". Study Test 1, activated after class.
FSept 20 Special word formation types. Conversion (zero-derivation), clipping (forms clippings), blending (forms blends) and others. Ch. 3 to end. Types of Word Formation to end. Study Test 1 due (all quizzes and tests due in morning before class).
MSept 23 More on morphs. Parsing practice; etymologies. Ch. 3 study; exercises.
WSept 25 Allomorphy: The variants of a morpheme. The English plural morpheme and its allomorphs. NB: 5% extra credit for this class for making a short creative video (3-5 mins) about some interesting aspect of English words.

Ch. 4. Quiz Word Elements 3, activated after class.
FSept 27 Allomorphy. Distinguishing allomorphs of the same morpheme. Phonologically-based allomorphy. Ch. 4. Quiz Word Elements 3 due.
MSept 30 Allomorphy in Latinate words. Basic concepts: voicing of consonants; assimilation. Sound contexts affect the sounds speakers produce. Ch. 4; Definitions; Sound terminology preview.
WOct 2 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.
FOct 4 The sounds of English. Sounds vs. spelling. Mismatches. Phonetics is about sounds, not spelling. Ch. 5 cont; Sound terminology Quiz Word Elements 4 due.
MOct 7 Consonants and vowels. Ch. 5 end; Ch. 6.
WOct 9 More on consonants and vowels. Diphthongs. Kinds of assimilation. Ch. 6. Quiz Word Elements 5, activated after class.
FOct 11 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. Latin vs. Greek loanwords. Ch. 6 cont. Quiz Word Elements 5 due.
MOct 14 Midterm Break, No Class No assigned reading; review
WOct 16 Review Midterm #1, activated Wed late afternoon or evening.
FOct 18 Semantic change. Paths of change involving social attitudes. Pejoration and amelioration. Some motivations for change in meaning. 1) Technological change and semantic change; 2) speaker expressiveness ('creative variation'); 3) economy ('abbreviation'). Paths of meaning change and 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.) Spatial metaphor. Ch. 7. Midterm #1 due SATURDAY 5pm. Does not include Friday's material.
MOct 21 Polysemy and its relation to semantic change. Polysemy in suffixes and prefixes. Finite words, infinite concepts. 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. 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. Ch. 7 cont.
WOct 23 Metaphor cont. 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 6, activated after class.
FOct 25 Introduction to the Rice Neologisms Database. Etymology Online. 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. Quiz Word Elements 6 due.
MOct 28 Introduction to the Oxford English Dictionary. Look at some sample entries on OED online.
WOct 30 Emergence of dictionaries in Europe; kinds of dictionaries. Lexicography. History of dictionaries and the OED. About the Oxford English Dictionary. Guide to OED Entries. Quiz Word Elements 7 (Ch. 8), activated after class.
FNov 1 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. Quiz Word Elements 7 (Ch. 8) due.
MNov 4 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 6 Participles and other weird forms. Spellings and pronunciations. Ch. 9 to end
FNov 8 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
MNov 11 More on changes from Latin (and French) to English Ch. 11. Study Test #2 activated in evening. Due Wed. morning; but if you really need an extension please email me.
WNov 13 The Linguistic Relatives of English. The Indo-European language family. Comparison of cognates. Recurrent sound correspondences. Reconstruction of vocabulary of a proto-language. Grimm's law (first part). Ch. 10 pp. 189-196 Sir William Jones quotation; Genetic relations of languages. Indo-European family tree; Indo-European cognates: family words Study Test #2 due 9:30 am.
FNov 15 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. pp. 189-196 cont.
MNov 18 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 20 Indo-Europeans and their culture, end. Language families of the world. Quiz Word Elements 8 (Ch. 9) activated after class.
FNov 22 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. Quiz Word Elements 8 (Ch. 9) due.
MNov 25 More on varieties. Geographical and social dialects Ch. 8 cont. Introduction to Shibboleths: Language as a group-defining tool. Language and power. The Story of the Shibboleth. For Word Journal: Be sure to read/review the part of Chapter 3 on word formation processes (derivation, compounding, clipping, blending, acronyms, etc. so you can check the classifications of the words you submit. Also review Word formation processes and types. Completed Word Journal due. Neologisms and the information you collected on them must be entered into database. A MicroSoft Word file uploaded to your Dropbox on Owlspace as well will be so helpful to me! Many people collect their Word Journal in a Word file throughout the semester and cut and paste the entries into the database. (Note: The Dropbox is there now, as of 11/25 a.m.). Word Journal before entering your words, so that you get the right information in the right fields.
WNov 27 No class. Review materials incl. above websites.
FNov 29 Thanksgiving holiday, no class. No reading.
MDec 2 Language variation cont. 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 knowledgeable) people. Video clip (in Owlspace Resources in folder English Dialects): Kid of 24 accents in English, native and foreign. Ch. 8 cont. Quiz Word Elements 9 Ch. 10 activated.
WDec 4 Ch. 8 cont. Language peeves. Prescriptivism as a weapon. Voice Recognition Elevator; Getting rid of dialects; the Dialect Coach. Extra Credit video (short multimedia presentation). 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. Two more word formation types: malapropisms and 'eggcorns' (will put up optional links). Ch. 8 to end. Slang page. Quiz Word Elements 9, Ch. 10 due. Activated after class: Quiz Word Elements 10, Ch. 11.
FDec 6 More extra credit videos/presentations. Wrap-up of language variation topics. Organizational stuff and review. Slang page. Student videos can also be reviewed; they are uploaded to our Resources site. Recap on Course Expectations will be useful to see whether you can accomplished the course objectives (which this assessment tests, like the other exams). Midterm topics and terminology see Review page for Midterm 2. Midterm #2 activated. Total time allowed is 3 hours. The exam is designed to be done in about an hour and a half. A good deal of extra time is given in case it helps relieve test anxiety or in case you need food or nap or other breaks. Midterm #2 officially due 11:55p.m.. Extension if needed, until TUESDAY 12/10 11:55pm.
S-T Dec 7-10 Saturday to Tuesday Study days, formerly known as Dead Week. Zombies.
W-W Dec 11-18 Wed-Wed. Final Exam Week. No final exam in the class. Take care of yourself! Don't overdo the all-nighters, caffeine consumption, or sugar consumption.

© 2013 Suzanne Kemmer
Last modified 6 Dec 2013