The History and Development of the English Language
Spring 1997 1-2:20 PM Mon/Wed
objective of the course: to study some of the basic principles of language and to study the basic outlines of the historical development of the English language.
required texts: R.L. Trask, Language: The Basics (Routledge); Charles Barber, The English Language: A Historical Introduction (Cambridge); Jean Aitchison, Language Change: Progress or Decay? (Second edition, Cambridge). All are paperback. You will also need to consult a good dictionary of the English language, one that gives historical and etymological information about words. Such dictionaries are available in most libraries; the Oxford English Dictionary is the definitive source; among American standard dictionaries, the Merriam-Webster and the American Heritage are useful.
attendance is mandatory; roll will be taken. If you miss more than two meetings you will fail the course.
assignments: Eleven homework assignments in the form of written answers to problems (these need not be typed and are due according to the schedule below). One final research project, due on the final exam date (Monday 12 May).
grading: Your grade in this class will be determined by a cumulative account of your progress. Success on each assignment will be noted simply by a Y on your paper, failure by an N. Homework will not be accepted late; late homework papers will receive an N.
Assuming good attendance, if you do successfully complete all of the homework assignments, you will make at least a B for the course no matter what else you do. If you complete ten of eleven, you will make at least a C; nine of eleven guarantees at least a D. Eight of eleven does not guarantee a passing grade but makes you eligible for a D if you pass the final research project.
The final research project is an opportunity for you to raise the course grade you have made on the homework assignments by one letter.
I consider this next point important enough to make on the syllabus: I think that a B is a good grade for a course. It will be difficult to complete all twelve course components successfully; I think that the grade of A should indicate excellence rather than mere completion of the course.
drop policy: drop before final drop date (18 April) guarantees W for the course; drop after that is against university rules. UTA instructors may not drop students for any reason.
plagiarism policy: See the 1995-97 Catalogue, page 36. For the purposes of this course only, I cannot monitor or forbid collaboration on homework assignments. You are basically on your honor to work through the material, by yourself or with others, and to make sure that your submitted assignments accurately reflect your understanding of the material. The final research project will make use of a collaboratively developed research instrument, and you may certainly consult with other students about how youğre doing it; but the final research submission must be your own; again, you are on your honor to make sure that that work is your own.
disability policy: see pp. 39-40 of the 1995-97 Catalogue and call the Office of Students with Disabilities for more information (272-3364).
22 January: introductions. Course design.
27 January: Lecture: What is language? Core principles. Reading: Trask, Chapter One; Aitchison, Chapter One; Barber, Chapter One.
29 January: English sounds; phonetic transcription. Concentrate on Barber, pp. 2-18.
3 February: Homework #1 due: phonetic transcription of a poem. Lecture: etymology and word origin.
5 February: Review Homework #1.
10 February: Homework #2 due: etymologies. Lecture: semantics and semantic change. Reading: Trask, Chapter Three.
12 February: Review Homework #2.
17 February: Homework #3 due: word history and meaning. Lecture: Language families. Reading: Trask, Chapter Five; Barber, Chapters Two and Three.
19 February: Review Homework #3.
24 February: Homework #4 due: word genealogies and affiliations. Lecture: Old English. Reading: Barber, Chapters Four, Five, and Six.
26 February: Review Homework #4.
3 March: Homework #5 due: translation from Old English, with analysis. Since this assignment contains several OE letters and phonetic symbols, it cannot be reproduced on-line. Lecture: Middle English. Reading: Barber, Chapter Seven.
5 March: Review Homework #5.
10 March: Homework #6 due: translation from Middle English, with attention to sound changes.Lecture: Modern English, and present developments. Reading: Barber, Chapters Eight and Ten.
12 March: Review Homework #6, with recitation.
17 March: SPRING BREAK
19 March: SPRING BREAK
24 March: Homework #7 due: Comparison of parallel passages in different phases of English. Lecture: Change and Variation. Reading: Trask, Chapter Four; Barber, Chapter Eleven; Aitchison, Chapters Two and Three. Note: The outline of this assignment is on-line, but the passages to be discussed are on handout only.
26 March: Review Homework #7.
31 March: Homework #8 due: future speculations. Lecture: Change and social context. Reading: Trask, Chapter Eight; Aitchison, Chapters Four, Five, Six, Seven, and Eight.
2 April: Review Homework #8.
7 April: Homework #9 due. Lecture: Psychological Aspects of Language Change. Reading: Aitchison, Chapters Nine, Twelve; Trask, Chapter Seven.
9 April: Review Homework #9.
14 April: Homework #10 due. Lecture/Workshop: Doing One's Own Research on Language Change.
16 April: Review Homework #10.
21 April: Homework #11 due. A self-administration of the instrument for the final research project. In order to learn well how it works, you must administer the research survey to yourself, to learn the possible problems and to gain practice and familiarity with the instrument.
23 April: Review Homework #11; last preparations for research project.
28 April: no class meeting; released for research
30 April: no class meeting; released for research
5 May: no class meeting; released for research
7 May: last class meeting, course evaluations.
12 May by 1:30 PM: research project due.