Time: 10-11:20 a.m. MR
Place: Bliss 145
Prof. G. Steinberg
Office: Bliss 216
Office Phone: 771-2106
E-mail: available through SOCS
Anne Curzan and Michael Adams, How English Works (Longman, 2006), ISBN 0321121880
COURSE DESCRIPTION. An introductory linguistics course intended for students who have had no previous exposure to systematic language study. Students will examine the grammatical structures of the English language (syntax), its system of sounds (phonology), and the ways that languages instill words with meaning (morphology, semantics). Course will also address issues of current interest in linguistics, including language variation (dialects and styles), current attitudes about English dialects, and recent debates concerning the biological components of language.
I can almost guarantee that this course will be one of the most difficult but also one of the best classes you will ever take. As a user of language, you already know a great deal about English intuitively. In this course, we are going to learn about the nuts and bolts of how languages work and change. We’ll take a lot of knowledge that you currently possess on an intuitive level and make you more conscious of it. When you finish the course, you will have a better understanding of why English is the way it is (usually because of historical accident or a universal linguistic rule or both), and you will have a store of conversation starters and fun facts to know and tell about your mother tongue. Most of the material we will cover in this class is inherently interesting. Who doesn’t want to know the answers to such questions as
But you will have to work hard to master a large amount of new material in order to be able to answer these questions adequately. In this course, you will be introduced to a lot of information that will be entirely new to you. You will need to memorize, digest, and assimilate a great deal as the term goes along. But I will help you in every way I can, and your classmates will be there with you the whole way.
GOALS. By the end of the course, I want you to
Your final grade will be based on the following scale: A = 93%-100%, A- = 90%-92%, B+ = 87%-89%, B = 83%-86%, B- = 80%-82%, C+ = 77%-79%, C = 73%-76%, C- = 70%-72%, D+ = 67%-69%, D = 60%-66%, and F = below 60%.
HOMEWORK PAPERS. In the course of the term, you are required to write 10 short, informal papers (about 2 pages each) on practical applications of topics discussed in class. You may choose for which days you want to write a homework paper, as long as you have completed ten homework papers by the end of the term and you submit each homework paper on the topic assigned for the day that you submit it.
Homework papers will be graded Pass/Fail. I ask you to type them (so that they are easier for me to read), but they need not be a perfect, polished product. Rather, think about the topic assigned for the day, do a little research on your own, and then write up your thoughts and conclusions. Don’t worry about typos or comma splices or organization. Be as specific as you can, getting down as much as you can, as quickly as you can. Treat homework papers more like a journal entry than like a formal paper. I don’t want a five-paragraph theme. Rather, I want an exploration – as detailed and specific as possible – of the research topic assigned for the day. Normally, as long as you submit a homework paper of suitable length, detail, research, and thoughtfulness (and as long as you submit it in hard copy in class on the assigned day), you will receive all the points that the homework paper is worth.
The purpose of the homework papers is
- to help you master the concepts and methodologies of linguistic study,
- to help me see where you’re struggling with the concepts in class,
- to help you develop your intellectual independence and your confidence as a researcher and analyst of language,
- to allow you to explore beyond the basics and to delve into practical, real-world applications and research, and
- to get ideas for PAPER 1 and PAPER 2.
You may submit more than 10 homework papers in the course of the semester (to make up for any homework papers that do not receive a grade of Pass), but no matter how many extra homework papers you turn in, you will not receive credit for more than 10 total. You may not submit more than one homework paper on a single day, nor may you submit a homework paper for a day that you are absent from class – absolutely no exceptions.
PAPER 1. Choose one of the homework papers that you have written thus far and expand it into 5-7 pages. Do additional research or provide more evidence and elaboration for the ideas that you expressed in the original homework paper. Your paper will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
PAPER 2. Choose one of the homework papers that you have done since PAPER 1 and expand it into 5-7 pages. Do additional research or provide more evidence and elaboration for the ideas that you expressed in the original homework paper. PAPER 2 will be evaluated using the same criteria as PAPER 1.
QUIZZES. In addition to your graded assignments, I will also periodically give ungraded quizzes. These quizzes are primarily a diagnostic tool. They help me to see what you, as a class, are having trouble with, and they help you to see what you still need to study before the exam. I intend them to be a low-stress experience and therefore do not grade them, but I do collect them and look them over in order to get a sense of what you have learned and what you may still need to learn in order to do well in the class.
ATTENDANCE. Attendance is a necessity for successful completion of this class. We will be discussing new material, with which you will probably be totally unfamiliar, almost every day. Class therefore constitutes essential preparation for your graded work. You really must be here to learn what you need to know in order to do well on the papers and exams. If you positively must miss a class meeting, I expect you to find out what you missed and to come fully prepared – without excuses – to the next class meeting.
OFFICE HOURS. My office is Bliss 216. My office hours this semester will be 10:00-11:20 a.m. on TF and 3:30-5:00 p.m. on T. If you cannot see me during my office hours, feel free as needed to call my office (771-2106) or talk to me before or after class to arrange an appointment at another time. You may also contact me by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), or you may leave a message for me in my box at the English department office in Bliss 124. E-mail is generally the fastest and easiest way to get in touch with me.
EMAIL. I may, on occasion, want to e-mail everyone in class. I generally only have access to your TCNJ e-mail addresses, however. As a result, if you regularly use an e-mail address other than your TCNJ address, I recommend that you have mail from your TCNJ address forwarded to the address you use more regularly. That way, if I e-mail your TCNJ address, my message will be forwarded to your other address automatically. To forward mail from your TCNJ address, go to http://managemail.tcnj.edu/ and click “Mail Forwarding Manager.” Follow the directions there to set up the mail forwarding.
If you would like to send an e-mail message to one or more of your classmates, you can do so through SOCS. To access SOCS, go to http://socs.tcnj.edu and, after you have logged in with your TCNJ e-mail username and password, choose this class from the list of your courses this semester. Then, when our course page comes up, click the “Email” button. From there, you can select individual e-mail addresses or the entire class and send a message to the address(es) you’ve selected.
Accommodations. The College of New Jersey prohibits discrimination against any student on the basis of physical or mental disability or perceived disability. The College will also provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations to enable students with disabilities to participate in the life of the campus community. Individuals with disabilities are responsible for reporting and supplying documentation verifying their disability, and requests for accommodations must be initiated through the Office of Differing Abilities Services (Eickhoff Hall 159). If you require special assistance, I will make every reasonable effort to accommodate your needs and to create an environment where your special abilities will be respected.
COURSE SCHEDULE. This schedule is subject to revision at the discretion of the professor. Changes made in the schedule after the beginning of the semester will be shown in red.
R Jan 19
|M Jan 23||Language||How English Works, pp. 1-19, 33-46|
|R Jan 26||Phonetics||
How English Works, pp. 64-79
Homework Paper: How English Works, Exercise 2.2, #2
|M Jan 30||Phonetics||online exercise 1; online exercise 2|
|R Feb 2||Phonology||How English Works, Exercise 3.1, #1; How English Works, pp. 79-89|
|M Feb 6||Phonology|| online
exercise; How English Works, Exercise 3.2
Homework Paper: English has a number of expressions such as chit-chat and flip-flop which never seem to occur in the reverse order (i.e., chat-chit, flop-flip). Other examples include criss-cross, hip-hop, riff-raff, dilly-dally, knick-knacks, see-saw, tick-tock, and ding-dong. Can you think of others? Can you think of a phonological description of the regular pattern in these expressions? What do all the vowels in the first element of the expressions have in common? What do all the vowels in the second element of the expressions have in common? What is the relationship between the vowels in the first element and the vowels in the second element? Can you make up a “rule” for forming these kinds of expressions? Make a new expression up as an illustration.
|R Feb 9||Phonology|| How English Works, Exercise
3.3, #1 and #2; online exercise
Homework Paper: How English Works, Exercise 3.5, #1
|M Feb 13||Phonology||online exercise 1
online exercise 2
/s/ before /j/ > /ò/, as in “Bless you” = /blεòju/,
/t/ > /tò/ before /r/, as in “trick” = /tòrιk/,
/m/ > /mp/ in a consonant cluster, as in “Samson” = /sæmpsən/, or
/n/ > /ŋ/ before /k/, as in “ink” = /ιŋk/.
Describe a similar change that you notice but that we have not discussed in class. Give lots of examples. Explain why the change seems to be occurring (i.e., because of assimilation, deletion, insertion, metathesis, palatalization, or some other unidentified phonological rule).
|R Feb 16||Morphology||online exercise 1;
online exercise 2; How English Works, pp. 101-124
Homework Paper: Choose one stanza from Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and transcribe it into the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Analyze the sounds in the stanza. Are there interesting patterns of consonant sounds within particular lines or phrases? Are there interesting patterns of vowel sounds? How do the sounds in the stanza reflect the meaning of the lines? How do they contribute to the stanza’s overall effect? Remember to talk about sounds – not spelling. Submit your phonetic transcription of the stanza with your paper. For the text of the poem, click here.
|M Feb 20||Lexical Categories||How English Works, Exercise 4.2, #2, and Exercise 4.1; How English Works,
Homework Paper: How English Works, Exercise 4.3, #5
|R Feb 23||Syntax||
online exercise; How English Works, pp.
|M Feb 27||Syntax||online exercise
Homework Paper: In deriving new words with the suffix -able, there seems to be some constraint on what is permitted. Looking at the following examples of acceptable and questionable instances, can you work out what the rule(s) might be for making new adjectives with the suffix -able?
breakable pencilable dieable
doable chairable downable
inflatable deskable oldable
movable hairable housable (house + -able)
understandable sleepable runable
wearable sitable carable (care + -able)
charitable restable graduatable (graduate + -able)
R Mar 2
|Syntax||How English Works, Exercise 6.1 and 6.2; How English Works,
Homework Paper: How English Works, Exercise 5.2, #3
|M Mar 6||Syntax|| How English Works, Exercise 6.4, #2, Exercise 6.3, and Exercise 6.5;
Homework Paper: How English Works, Exercise 6.7, #1
|R Mar 9||
|M Mar 13||NO CLASS||Spring Break|
|R Mar 16||NO CLASS||PAPER 1 DUE in SOCS|
|M Mar 20||Semantics||How English Works, pp. 207-239|
|R Mar 23||MID-TERM EXAM||Study, study, study|
Homework Paper: How English Works, Exercise 7.3, #3
|M Mar 27
||Conversation|| How English Works, Exercise 7.4, #2, and Exercise 7.2; How
English Works, pp. 242-274
Homework Paper: How English Works, Exercise 7.3, #3
Homework Paper: How English Works, Exercise 7.4, #1
|R Mar 30
Homework Paper: How English Works, Exercise 7.4, #1
|M Apr 3
Homework Paper: Go to the MICASE web site at http://micase.umdl.umich.edu/m/micase/. Choose a transcript of a conversation (a meeting, interview, advising session, office hours, or other). Choose a portion of the transcript that seems interesting (about 10-20 turns). Describe what is happening in that portion with respect to direct and indirect speech acts, the cooperative principle, “face,” discourse markers, and/or turn taking. Provide a copy of the relevant portion of the transcript with your paper.
|R Apr 6
How English Works, Exercise 9.6, #3 (you may choose any text of about 300
Homework Paper: How English Works, Exercise 9.1, #2
|M Apr 10
||Language Aquisition|| How English Works, pp. 320-353; Click the two
http://micase.umdl.umich.edu/cgi/m/micase/micase-idx?type=html&id=SGR999SU146&q1=&c1= and http://micase.umdl.umich.edu/cgi/m/micase/micase-idx?type=html&id=STP355SU010&q1=&c1=.
Each is a transcript of a conversation at the MICASE web site, but the two conversations occurred in two very different contexts. Pick 10-15 turns from each conversation that seem representative of that conversation and analyze what is happening in terms of direct and indirect speech acts, the cooperative principle, “face,” discourse markers, turn taking, and register. What characterizes the register of each conversation? What elements of conversation do the two share in common?
Be prepared to talk about How English Works, Exercise 9.6, #3 (assigned for last class).
Homework Paper: How English Works, Exercise 9.2, #1
|R Apr 13
|M Apr 17
Free Homework Paper: Go back and do any homework paper since the midterm that you have not already done.
|R Apr 20
||History of English||language
conversation exercise; How English Works, pp. 19-28, 435-469, 89-92
Homework Paper: Survey 10 people from at least three different regions using the survey available here. What dialectical differences do the speakers exhibit? What patterns do you see in terms of dialect and region?
|M Apr 24
||History of English II||Grimm’s Law exercises;
Homework Paper: Use the Oxford English Dictionary to research the history of a single English word. Where and when did the word originate? How did English originally acquire it? When did it come into English usage? How has it evolved over time in terms of meaning, spelling, pronunciation, morphology? Click here to go to the online Oxford English Dictionary.
|R Apr 27
||Review||Great Vowel Shift exercise;
dialect exercise; bring review questions to class
Homework Paper: How English Works, Exercise 2.3, #2
|FINALS WEEK||FINAL EXAM||PAPER 2 DUE in SOCS|
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