Michael Adams

12:20p-1:00p MWF (30 students) 3 cr.

This course serves as an introduction to the English language in all of its formal aspects: phonetics and phonology (sounds and sound system), morphology and lexicology (the structure of words and vocabularies), syntax (the structure of phrases, clauses, and sentences), semantics (meaning), discourse (the structure of conversation and other extended speech), and style (the linguistic aspects of literature and other writing, as well as stylized speech). We will also consider variation in English, how the language has developed over time, and the politics of usage.

Language is so natural to us that we use it and judge it without thinking about it much. Obviously, educated folks should be thoughtful about language, which, after all, is central to our social, professional, and intellectual lives. This course will help you to think more precisely about language as a natural and social phenomenon; it will introduce you to the forms and functions of English in particular; it will inform your use of the language, but also your judgments about others’ use; it will prepare some of you to teach about English, some of you to write about it, and all of you to participate in public debate about the role of English (and language generally) in American culture.

The text is Anne Curzan and Michael Adams, How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction (AB Longman, 2006). Coursework includes frequent quizzes, three examinations (including the final), and two brief essays (5-8 pages).