ENG G301 / D600 :
The History of the English Language
Professor Damian Fleming
Welcome to HEL !
Class meetings: T R 1:30 – 2:45 pm cm144
Office hours: T W R (or by appointment)
Office: CM 149 (in English Department)
Contact information: Office phone: (260) 918-0192
Course Website: http://users.ipfw.edu/flemingd/hel2010.html
COURSE WIKI: http://hel2010.pbworks.com/
This course will serve as an introduction to the study of language in general, and specifically to the historical study of the English language. The course will give students grounding in the tools of linguistic study: phonology, morphology, graphics, semantics, syntax and lexicon. In particular we will trace the historical development of the English language, beginning with the classification of all languages, to the Indo-European language family to the successive stages in the development of English, from Old English to American English the many World englishes of the present day. Particular attention will be paid to sociolinguistic aspects language change as well as the value of linguistic inquiry in the study of literature and in composition.
Required Texts (you’ll need them both right away):
English Language: A Linguistic History, Laurel J. Brinton and Leslie K. Arnovick (
Word on the Street: Debunking the Myth of a “Pure” Standard English, John McWhorter (Basic Books, 1998), ISBN-10: 0738204463 “McWhorter”
Always bring both texts to class; they are necessary for informed discussion; failure to bring your text to class is equivalent to an absence (and you better check out the attendance policy).
1. Regular attendance, intelligent participation, alert questioning, and careful preparation of reading and exercises as assigned
2. Regular quizzes on the material in B&A
3. Regular online critiques of McWhorter and additional materials
4. 2 semester research projects, to be posted online
5. Midterm and Final Exams
Grading: The term grade is calculated based on the following:
Exams (midterm and final) 50%
A 95–100 Highest passing grade 4.0
A- 90–94 3.7
B+ 87–89 3.3
B 84–86 Above-average passing grade 3.0
B- 80–83 2.7
C+* 77–79 2.3
C* 74–76 Average passing grade 2.0
C-* 70–73 1.7
D+* 65–69 1.3
D* 60–64 Lowest passing grade 1.0
F * below 60 Failure or unauthorized discontinuance of class
attendance; no credit.
* Not acceptable for graduate credit
This course is based in active participation; as a result, attendance in class is essential. More than two unexcused absences will drastically affect your grade:
· On your second absence: total participation grade becomes 0%
· On your third absence: You are no longer part of this class: final grade: F
· There are NO excused absences.
· Excessive lateness will count as an absence.
· Leaving class early will count as an absence.
· Sleeping in class will count as an absence.
Regardless of cause, you are responsible for all work missed during absences, including changes to the class schedule announced in class.
Engrave the following on your brain:
· I do not accept any late work
· Grade for late work: 0%, returned without comment
· Computer mishaps are not an acceptable excuse.
o This is the 21st century. Save frequently.
Give yourself plenty of time and leeway to get your work done and to deal with bumps in the road should they occur. Pretend, at least for this class, that you are operating in the real world.
Failure to submit any written assignment will result in a failing grade for the course
This class is unlike most any other English class you may have taken. In a lot of ways, it’s more like a science class (the science being historical linguistics) and also has a lot in common with a foreign language class. This class will demand a lot of memorization and using parts of your brains which do not otherwise get used very often. For your benefit, I will give quizzes at the beginning of many classes to make sure that you keeping up with the material. If you read what you’re assigned carefully and do all the exercises, these quizzes will be no-brainers. Everything is necessarily cumulative.
For the B&A Book:
This book is dense, and there’s a lot of stuff in it that may be completely new to you. It’s not for skimming. You are going to have to honker-down and read slowly, carefully, and repeatedly. Not all of it will make sense without instructor guidance, but you are responsible for consuming as much of it as possible before class meets. The book is also full of exercises which helpfully reinforce the material that you’ve read (this is in place of other textbooks, which also cost near $100, and make you buy a separate workbook for another $50 or so). The exercises are excellent for reinforcing the material; although we likely not have time to go over exercises in class, feel free to ask me about any of them.
After the first one, our quizzes on this material will cover two chapters: one you’ve just read, and one we’ve covered in class. For the former, I will quiz you based on my humane understanding of what a reasonably intelligent student working hard could get out of an initial reading of the text. For the latter, you’ll be responsible for anything we’ve covered in class.
I will try to give “quiz previews” for the material we have not covered yet. Also, focus on the terms: the key words in italics. Most of these can also be found in the very handy glossary at the end of the book.
every week (see Schedule) you will be responsible to read and respond to
chapters in the McWhorter book or additional materials (usually on available on
the internet). Before the day it is assigned, you must post an
informal response/critique to the assigned article on our class wiki. These need not be formal, but must be
at least 500 words long. Most of these articles deal with the
many very current social issues involving English and language in the
I do not accept any late work, under any circumstance.
Students with disabilities:
accordance with University policy, if you have a documented disability, you may
be eligible to request accommodations from the office of Services for Students
with Disabilities (
Keep in mind that accommodations are not retroactive so it is best to register as soon as possible so that timely arrangements can be made.
No retroactive accommodations can be made. If you feel that you have an issue which may affect your ability to succeed in this class, you must come see me before you’ve defaulted on the class. Hopefully, any issue can be resolved, but no issue can be resolved after the fact.
USING ANOTHER PERSON’S WORDS OR IDEAS WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION IS PLAGIARISM.
will earn you an F for the course,
and possible expulsion from the University.
If you borrow an idea or quote from another author, you must cite where
you found the material. If you have any questions about citing sources, please **ASK**
before your turn in an assignment. I am
happy to help, or visit the
**note: This schedule is subject to change; missing class is NOT an excuse for not knowing about changes to the schedule (see above: Attendance).
WK 1 T 12 Welcome to HEL! What the HEL is this class about?
Why the HEL should I take it? Are these HEL jokes ever funny?
Overview of what we’re up against: What do you know about English History?
Grammatical Terminology Helps:
R 14 Request access/ setup account at our wiki: http://hel2010.pbworks.com/
Post 5 grammatical/spelling/pronunciation Pet Peeves of yours
Introduction to Dictionaries!
“Appendix 1: An
Introduction to Dictionaries” from English
Words: History and Structure, Robert Stockwell
and Donka Minkova (
Discussion of Etymology Project
WK 2 T 19 B&A:
R 21 Read and Critique McWhorter ch 1, and ch 2
Etymology Project: word-selection DUE online before class
WK 3 T 26 B&A:
R 28 Read and Critique, McWhorter ch 3, ch 5 and Anne Curzan, “Says Who? Teaching and Questioning the Rules of Grammar,” PMLA 124.3 (2009): 870–879.
WK 4 T 2 B&A:
R 4 Read and Critique, Campus Talk and The Power of Slang, and Born in the USA: The Global Spread of American Slang and Like, Quote Me: Like Quotative — a Part of English Grammar Now?
WK 5 T 9 B&A:
WK 6 T 16 B&A:
Etymology Project DUE posted online before class
WK 7 T 23 B&A:
R 25 Read and Critique, F&R Ch. 16 and 21 (Ebonics; Hip Hop Nation)
Project Peer Evaluations DUE online before class
WK 8 T 2 Catch-up
MARCH R 4 MIDTERM Exam
WK 9 T 16 B&A:
R 18 Read and Critique, Sociolinguistics Basics and Social Identity and Crossing Over: Language Crossing — Borrowing Identity
Dialect Project Topic Selection Due online before class
WK 10 T 23 B&A:
WK 11 T 30 B&A:
R 1 Read and Critique, McWhorter ch. 4, and Vowel Shifting: The Sounds, They Are A Shiftin’
WK 12 T 6 B&A:
WK 13 T 13 B&A: Ch.12: Modern English
R 15 Read and Critique, Walt Wolfram and McWhorter, ch 6
T 20 Read and Critique, McWhorter ch 7 and ch 8
Dialect project Due online before class
WK 15 T 27
R 29 Dialect project peer evaluations due online before class
Final Exam: Thursday, May 6, 1–3pm