ENGLISH 308 - History of the English Language
Section: 001
Term: WN 2013
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
Credits:
4
Requirements & Distribution:
HU
Repeatability:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course explores the dramatic ways in which the English language has changed over the 1200 years of its recorded history — dramatic enough that we as Modern English speakers need an Old English course to read Beowulf and may find even Chaucer’s Middle English a struggle. Together we will trace how English has developed from a West Germanic dialect spoken on an island off the coast of western Europe (i.e., England) into an international language spoken as a native tongue by almost 400 million people around the world. We will also consider a variety of more specific questions, such as: Why does the “f” turn into a “v” in wife/wives? How is the word “lord” etymologically related to a loaf of bread? Is txtng destroying English? When was double negation (e.g., “we don’t have none”) considered standard? How did English spelling become, to quote linguist Mario Pei, the “world’s most awesome mess”? Why and how do “living” languages change? As we move through the traditional stages in the “life” of English—Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English, and Modern English, we will focus on the general sound, word, and grammar changes within the language, as well as related literary, cultural, and historical events. We will also discuss relevant social and educational issues, including attitudes about American dialects, bilingual education, and the teaching of grammar.

No background in linguistics is required. The critical prerequisite for the course is genuine curiosity about the details of language and how language changes.

Course Requirements:

Course work will consist of frequent short assignments, two short papers, a midterm, and a final.

ENGLISH 308 - History of the English Language
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 
28733
Open
5
 
-
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
002 (DIS)
P
28741
Open
2
 
-
F 9:00AM - 10:00AM
003 (DIS)
P
28742
Open
3
 
-
F 11:00AM - 12:00PM
004 (DIS)
P
28743
Closed
0
 
-
F 10:00AM - 11:00AM
005 (DIS)
P
28744
Closed
0
 
-
F 10:00AM - 11:00AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.


ISBN: 9780195431575
The English language. A linguistic history. Rev. ed., Author: Laurel J. Brinton; Leslie Arnovick., Publisher: Oxford University Press US 2nd ed. 2010
Required
ISBN: 9781592404940
Our magnificent bastard tongue : the untold history of English, Author: John McWhorter., Publisher: Gotham Books 2009
Required
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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