ENGL 4301

Tim Morris

History and Development of the English Language

Winter 2000-2001 8AM-noon Mon/Tues/Wed/Thurs (plus one Friday) 310 Preston Hall

office hours: by appointment only (203 Carlisle)


office phone: metro 817 272 2692

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.

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 English speech phonemically; will know some principles of etymology and semantic change, and how to use a historical dictionary; 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 completely optional, but I will not do any out-of-class tutoring for students who miss class. You will be pretty much lost if you do not attend class. If something prevents you from coming to class and keeping up, you've simply had your semester affected negatively by bad things--or by good personal commitments that you've chosen to place ahead of coursework.

drop policy: drop before final drop date (19 December) guarantees W for the course; drop after that is against university rules. Remember that you may drop a Winter Session course only by going to the Registrar's Office in Davis Hall. UTA instructors may not drop students for any reason, and the English Department staff cannot drop you from this course.

assignments: Ten (10) short assignments, due as indicated in the schedule below. Final exam (in-class, pen-and-paper, closed-book), Thurs. 11 Jan. 9:30AM-noon.

grading: Your grade in this course will be determined by a cumulative point system. 12 points means an A for the course, 11 means a B, 10 means a C, and 9 means a D; less than 9 points means failure.

You earn points by making 1 grades on papers. Each of the short assignments will earn a grade of either 1 or 0. No short assignment 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.

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, and that a C grade is quite acceptable. 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 18 Dec: Introductions. The Syllabus. Overview, with some axioms for the study of language.

Tues 19 Dec: Short assignment #1: Byte Chase (in class). Phonetic Transcription Workshop.

Wed 20 Dec: Short assignment #2 due: Inventory. Review of Inventory. Syntax workshop.

Thurs 21 Dec: Short assignment #3 due: Phonetic Transcription. Language Families. Indo-European languages. Germanic languages.


Tues 2 Jan: Short assignment #4 due: Indo-European cognates. Hwæt! visit. Old English passage I.

Wed 3 Jan: Short assignment #5 due: etymology. News note. Hwæt! visit. Old English passage II.

Thurs 4 Jan: Short assignment #6 due: semantic shifts. Middle English passage I. Old English history lecture.

Fri 5 Jan: Short assignment #7 due: Old English. Middle English passage II. Middle English history lecture.


Mon 8 Jan: Short assignment #8 due: Middle English. American English. Modern English history lecture.

Tues 9 Jan: Short assignment #9 due: Early Modern English. Dictionaries. Latin and Greek.

Wed 10 Jan: Short assignment #10 due: American dialects. Review for Final Exam; course evaluations

Thurs 11 Jan: 9:30 AM-noon: Final Exam


Top of the schedule

Top of the Syllabus