LING 406 - Modern English Grammar
Section: 001
Term: WN 2009
Subject: Linguistics (LING)
Department: LSA Linguistics
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Welcome to “grammar boot camp”! Much like the popular fitness boot camps that make the hard work of getting in shape an inspiring group activity, this course offers a rigorous yet fun exploration of how English grammar works. Many students, not to mention English speakers more generally, have a conflicted relationship with “grammar”: they want to understand the details of English grammar and sense that it will be useful; but they also may think of grammar as boring or scary (red pen marks come to mind) or “something they are not good at.” This course offers a different perspective on grammar: all speakers of English “know grammar” intuitively—it is what allows us to construct meaningful utterances every day. What we will be doing in this course is unpacking that grammatical knowledge, so that you can explain what you know using more precise terminology. What is the function of up in the verb call up? Why can we say I’m not tall, and she is, but not *I’m not tall, and she’s? Why do most one-syllable adjectives take –er in the comparative (slower, cuter), but funner is seen as incorrect? In conjunction with questions like the last one, we’ll critically examine prescriptions about what is “right” and “wrong” in written and spoken usage (e.g., don’t end a sentence with a preposition; don’t split infinitives). Where do these rules come from? Do they ever change? The course will involve almost daily homework assignments (like any boot camp, the key to success is consistent work every week), which often will ask you to explore electronic databases of spoken and written English to discover how English grammar is used by real people (including you!) in real contexts. There will also be two papers and a final exam. No background in linguistics is required, but a genuine interest in the details of language is strongly recommended.

LING 406 - Modern English Grammar
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
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