ENGL 4301: 501

Tim Morris

History and Development of the English Language

Fall 1998 7-8:20 PM Mon/Wed 316 Ransom Hall

office hours: MTTh 11AM-1PM (206 Carlisle)
W 11AM-noon, 1-2 PM (206 Carlisle)


office phone: metro 817-272-2739

office mailbox 203 Carlisle Hall

mailing address Box 19035, UTA 76019

to the schedule of readings and assignments

Click here to explore linguistics resources on the Web

Click here for a print bibliography for this course

course prerequisites: ENGL 1301, 1302, and six hours of 2000-level English.

required textbooks: none

syllabus: this web-page and links constitute the syllabus for the course. The syllabus will be updated continuously, so that by the end of the semester it constitutes a record of what actually happened in the course and can be used as a resource for study for the final exam. You are welcome to print off the syllabus at any time and as often as you like.

course description: This course will provide background in basic concepts of linguistics, principles of language change and historical linguistic study, the development of the English language, and basic applied sociolinguistics. The course is not intended to substitute for study in any of those areas, but rather to introduce undergraduates, especially English majors, to concepts in those fields, so that they can do further academic work, study literature, and teach English with a basic general background in language study. Our method of study is inductive and computer-mediated. Rather than study a traditional textbook, we will set various problems that illustrate the history of the English language, and suggest ways of solving these problems with the help of computer and library resources.

course objectives: Students who successfully complete this course will be able to transcribe modern English speech phonetically; will know the principles of etymology and semantic change, and how to use a historical dictionary; will understand general principles of historical reconstruction in linguistics; will be able to identify and explain general features of Old and Middle English; will know something about the status of evidence for English historical linguistics; and will be able to discuss, from an informed perspective, the social contexts and mechanisms of language change.

attendance is mandatory; roll will be taken. You may miss two meetings without penalty, further missed classes can lower your grade; see below.

drop policy: drop before final drop date (13 November) guarantees W for the course; drop after that is against university rules. UTA instructors may not drop students for any reason.

assignments: Eight homework assignments, due on the Mondays indicated in the schedule below. Final exam (in-class, pen-and-paper, closed-book), Wed. 9 Dec 8:15-10:45 PM.

grading: Your grade in this course will be determined by a cumulative point system. 10 points means an A for the course, 9 means a B, 8 means a C, and 7 means a D; less than 7 points means failure.

You earn points by making 1 grades on papers. Each of the homework assignments will earn a grade of either 1 or 0. No homework will ever be accepted late; late papers will receive a grade of 0. Specific standards for each assignment accompany that particular assignment.

The final exam may count 0, 1 or 2 points: 0 if you don't take it or show unacceptably poor performance; 1 if your performance is good; 2 if your performance is outstanding.

You lose points by missing class. Your first two absences are free; each subsequent absence costs a grade point. Except for religious holidays or absences officially excused by the University, no absence will be excused. If something prevents you from coming to class and contributing, you've simply had the misfortune to have your semester affected negatively by bad things--or by good personal commitments that you've chosen to place ahead of coursework. The nature of our meetings means that the course "happens" not just in the assignments but also in active speaking and listening in class.

I consider this next point important enough to make here, on the syllabus: I think that a B is a good grade for an undergraduate course. It will be difficult to complete all the course components successfully; I think that the grade of A should indicate excellence rather than mere completion of the course.

academic dishonesty policy: It is the philosophy of The University of Texas at Arlington that academic dishonesty is a completely unacceptable mode of conduct and will not be tolerated in any form. All persons involved in academic dishonesty will be disciplined in accordance with University regulations and procedures. Discipline may include suspension or expulsion from the University. "Scholastic dishonesty includes but is not limited to cheating, plagiarism, collusion, the submission for credit of any work or materials that are attributable in whole or in part to another person, any act designed to give unfair advantage to a student or the attempt to commit such acts." [Regents' Rules and Regulations, Part One, Chapter Vi, Section 3, Subsection 3.2, Subdivision 3.22]

NOTE FOR PURPOSES OF THIS COURSE ONLY: You may collaborate on homework assignments with other students in the class. You are on your honor to work though the material and understand it thoroughly. You may not just copy material that someone else, in this class or out of it, has prepared. You may work jointly on assignments, and share information and techniques. I will reserve the right to assign a 0 grade on any submitted papers that you do not fully understand when questioned about the work. You may not collaborate on the final exam.

disability policy: The University of Texas at Arlington is on record as being committed to both the spirit and letter of federal equal opportunity legislation; reference Public Law 93112--The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended. With the passage of new federal legislation entitled Americans with Disabilities Act - (ADA), pursuant to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, there is renewed focus on providing this population with the same opportunities enjoyed by all citizens. As a faculty member, I am required by law to provide "reasonable accommodation" to students with disabilities, so as not to discriminate on the basis of that disability. Student responsibility primarily rests with informing faculty at the beginning of the semester and in providing authorized documentation through designated administrative channels.

schedule of assignments and readings

Mon 24 Aug: syllabus, procedures

Wed 26 Aug: overview of course material

Mon 31 Aug: computer skills workshop

Wed 2 Sept: Phonetic Transcription Workshop


Wed 9 Sept: Language, Dialect, Translation

Mon 14 Sept: Homework #1 due: paper-chase on selected important terms in historical linguistics. Lesson: Historical Variability in English.

Wed 16 Sept: review Homework #1

Mon 21 Sept: Homework #2 due: phonetic transcription . Lesson: Language Families.

Wed 23 Sept: review Homework #2

Mon 28 Sept: Homework #3 due: language families and reconstruction. Lesson: Dictionaries.

Wed 30 Sept: review homework #3

Mon 5 Oct: Homework #4 due: etymology. Lesson: Germanic Languages.

Wed 7 Oct: review Homework #4

Mon 12 Oct: Homework #5 due: semantics. Lesson: Anglo-Saxon history and culture (Kim Woods)

Wed 14 Oct: review Homework #5

Mon 19 Oct: in tonight's meeting, we'll visit Cathy Ball's Hwæt! site at Georgetown.

Wed 21 Oct: Lesson: Old English. More Hwæt!

Mon 26 Oct: Homework #6 due: Old English. Lesson: more Old English

Wed 28 Oct: review Homework #6

Mon 2 Nov: Lesson: Toward Middle English

Wed 4 Nov: Lesson: Later Middle English

Mon 9 Nov: Homework #7 due: Middle English. Lesson: Toward Modern English (The Great Vowel Shift)

Wed 11 Nov: review Homework #7, plus Lesson: American English

Fri 13 Nov: last date to drop

Mon 16 Nov: Homework #8 due: American English. Lesson: Modern English

Wed 18 Nov: review Homework #8

Mon 23 Nov: Lesson: Grammar vs. Usage


Mon 30 Nov: review for Final Exam

Wed 2 Dec: review for Final Exam; course evaluations

Wed 9 Dec: 8:15-10:45 PM Final Exam