G302 1998 KARSTADT
Structure of Modern English

11:15a-12:05p MWF (65) 3 cr.


The beginning of this course surveys key linguistic concepts necessary for the description of spoken and written English (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics). Our main interest in this course, however, is describing and analyzing language variation and change. While our chief focus will be on variation in contemporary American English, our readings and discussion will make reference to historical change in English as well as to variation in English as it is spoken worldwide. Some relevant topics include language contact (pidgins, creoles, immigrant varieties of English), African-American Vernacular English, language change across the lifespan, language and gender—and other issues relating to language and identity. Many of these topics have implications for educational policies, which we will discuss.

Members of this class will work on frequent exercises, take various quizzes, and will complete exams (probably a mid-term and a final). Other class requirements—in addition to the scheduled readings—include a project, two class presentations, and active class participation.

We will work from three textbooks in this class: (1) Finegan, Language: Its Structure and Use (3rd edition), which presents an overview of linguistic description for English (you already have this book if you took G205 in Fall 1999); (2) a packet of articles surveying current research in the field of sociolinguistics; and (3) an additional book—to be determined—which focuses on language and society.