English 370, Spring 2007

I've been looking over what you need and want to know, and I've concluded that the topics fall into four general areas:
  1. Structure, of English and other languages
  2. History, of English and other Indo-European languages
  3. Usage issues, including "correctness", and how to teach and learn languages
  4. Literature, and Poetry, and how language works in them.

We'll start with History and Structure right away. There will continue to be problems to solve on History and Structure. But I think we'll hold off on Problems 1-4 for a while.

The problem for Monday: Grimm's Law. To hand in.
Print out the problem and fill in the blanks. Use the back to answer the questions. Please be concise.
And to help you with those last questions ("Is there any regular pattern? Could you describe it in a chart?"),
here's The English Phonemic Alphabet. Learn the symbols and what they represent by the end of next week, please.

  • Ongoing Term Assignments:
    1. Term Project: Every student must complete a term project in one of the areas above. Projects can include oral reports, web pages, or papers. Projects may be done by groups (but standards are higher for group projects). Projects must be completed by the last day of class.

    2. Encyclopedia: Everybody should pick some topic in one of the Encyclopedias and become an expert on it. This can be done by groups. When you achieve experthood, you will be called upon for opinions and judgements. Be ready.

    3. Literature: Pick a piece of literature that you really love, and extract a segment of the finest writing it contains (about a page or so will do, probably, preferably self-contained). Then analyze this writing sample exhaustively to see what kinds of grammatical structures are used, and how they are employed to bring off the effects that the author achieves.

    4. Education (optional, for future teachers): Develop a course plan to teach some interesting and useful topic about language or English in elementary or secondary school. Include references to the Encyclopedia(s) and describe what the outcome is supposed to be, and where this lesson lies in a larger curriculum. You may wish to read Language Science, a paper by a former student on this topic, before starting.

    5. Class notes (optional, but counts for participation grade): If you take good class notes, think about posting them on Blackboard, so that others can add theirs and develop a good studying resource.

    6. Other optional assignments like that, tba.
  • Grimm's Law software (from a Macintosh program I wrote some time ago)
  • Two accounts of the details of Grimm's Law.
  • The details of the P-I-E sound system, with lots of roots, along with short description of P-I-E.

  • Where Words Come From, since you asked.
  • The Pear Stories. Play the video, then compare your story about what happened to other stories from around the world.
    (Hint: they're very different).
  • And finally, a hilarious routine on language by Stephen Fry (famous from many films) and Hugh Laurie
    (who started his career by playing upper-class twits, but is more famous in America as the actor who plays Dr. Gregory House).
    Three readings, all on the Web:
    1. Chapter XI, Language and Literature", from Edward Sapir's famous book Language (1921)
      (Notice two things: what he says and how he says it)
    2. Chapter VIII, "Language as a Historical Product: Phonetic Law", ibidem.
      (more details about topics we've touched on; notice the writing and the main themes and bleep over the details, unless you're fascinated with them)
    3. The Deliverator, from Neal Stephenson's famous book Snow Crash, (1992).
      (never mind the blurb at the top; read the "Excerpt". It's my first example of a spectacular piece of writing. What does he do and how does he use language to do it?)
    Read these three and write a one-page reaction paper to one of them. Due Monday the 30th.
  • The next ten paragraphs of The Deliverator, to see some of the threads come together.
  • Another transcription exercise.
  • Another example of some neat struckchers in litracher. Made using Word and Acrobat.
  • The Plan for May describing the grading system that we discussed Monday.
  • Four PIE roots:
  • Something about the Malay language
    (also called Indonesian, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Melayu, or just Bahasa.)

  • Henry V (Tuesday 5/8 7:30pm HU 304).
    Two background pages, with links:
    1. History background for Shakespeare's History plays
    2. Linguistic notes on Henry V.

  • Something about Structure, and some linguistic structures.
  • An exercise in English syntax, which we are starting soon.
    ==> Become familiar soon with the "Syntax Topics" pages in the coursepack.
  • The scene with Fluellen, Gower, Jamy, and MacMorris from Act 3, Scene II of Henry V, referred to in the Linguistic notes above.
  • Another phonemic transcription, this one a little more complex.
  • English Phrasal Verbs, with trees.
  • Henry V discussion: those who attended may share their impressions with the class, for extempore presentation credit.
  • Solutions for the Hungarian, Nahuatl, and Zapotec morphology problems, with terminology
  • WWU Prof. Ed Vajda's Web page on Morphology
  • A classic syntax paper, "English Sentences without Overt Grammatical Subject", from this Festschrift,
    honoring this famous linguist, who also wrote the article, under the pseudonym Quang Phúc Ðông
  • While we're at it, here's a classic Anthropology paper, by a former colleague of mine at Michigan,
    illustrating just weird the magical beliefs of foreign cultures can be.
  • The Language Log post on eggcorns,
    and while we're at it, a few more, on snowclones , Negation by Association, and Photo Evidence of the Coming Death of Whom.

  • Some German poetry (including the unofficial anthem of the European Union).
  • Today's morphology quiz, on Yup'ik Eskimo.
  • Another sample syntax quiz for practice...
    ... and yet another for those who still aren't satisfied.

  • How to figure out a sentence. Print this out or bookmark it. It's a permanent resource. Remember,
  • Verbs have more fun
  • Verbs of a feather flock together
  • A couple of syntax exercises
  • A couple more links on Suprasegmentals
  • The handout (with links) to an ATEG paper of mine. Another resource for grammar stuff.
  • A handout (with links) on Semantics and Pragmatics, the parts of linguistics that are most obviously useful to writers and critics.

    Memorial Day Holiday

  • Wedding
    The Presentation Schedule, as of Friday, May 25:
        * Monday, June 4 (two slots open)
              o Kaitlin
              o Alex Pearson
              o Chris (?)
              o Cam (?)
        * Wednesday, June 6 (full)
              o Anna            
              o Lisa & Stephanie
              o Kayleigh        
              o Alex Wigley  
        * Friday, June 8 (last class; full) 
              o Christian 
    As people develop something to advertise their talks, I'll link them here.