10-11 Tues, 9-11 Wed. 10-11 Thur. & by appt.
12:30-1:45 PM TTH
This syllabus is located online at:
It will be updated as warranted.
Ever wonder why many of our names for governmental and judicial activities are based on French borrowings (e.g., “impeach,” “judge,” “treason,” “court,” “state")? Or why the French use words like “le weekend,” “le parking,” or “nonstop"? Why we contract “We are not” but not “I am not"? Why we don’t say “thou” but do say “y’all”? Do you know the origins of the word “maverick,” or the genetic relationship between this coinage and “gobbledegook”;? The answers to these and other questions lie in the history of the English language and its users, from the language’s Germanic roots, through its origins in England, its spread throughout the Empire, and, finally, to its present-day status as a de facto “World Language."
Texts & Materials
Small Group Work (seven, 5 points each, minus two lowest)
Quizzes (seven, 5 points each, minus two lowest)
Midterm (15 points)
pagers, and all other class-disruptive devices and technologies must be silenced
before class begins. If you need adaptations or accommodations because of
a disability (learning disability, attention deficit disorder, psychological,
physical, etc.), if you have emergency medical information to share with me,
or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated,
please make an appointment with me as soon as possible.
Students are responsible for observing the tenets of the Honor Code. If you have questions about the interpretation of the stated violations and how to avoid them, please ask.
The Department of English endorses Virginia Tech’s Principles of Community and these principles are observed in this class.
Late work is generally not allowed without penalty unless negotiated in advance.
Assigned readings are expected to be completed before class on the day for which they appear in the Schedule below.
Schedule: subject to change with notification
[Please bring your textbook to each class meeting.]
Tuesday, January 21
Introduction to Course; “A History of English in 10 Minutes” (youtube)
Thursday, January 23
"The Human Language,” Pt. 1 (DVD 4255 Oversize); Crystal, “Grammatical Mythology,” pp. 190-197
Tuesday, January 28
"Brief Overview"; “case & inflections"; Crystal, pp. 198-205
Thursday, January 30
Small Group Ex. 1; Crystal, “The Sound System,” pp. 236-241 (Vowels); “The Sound System,” pp. 242 -247 (Consonants, Connected Speech); sounds handout
Tuesday, February 4
Thursday, February 6
Small Group Ex. 2
Tuesday, February 11
Take Quiz 1 by midnight; Crystal, pp. 6-23; “The Beginnings of English in England”
Thursday, February 13
“Outside Influences”; Crystal, pp. 24-29; DVD no. 233, “Birth of a Language”
Tuesday, February 18
Old English, cont.
Thursday, February 20
OE cont.; Small Group Ex. 3
Tuesday, February 25
Thursday, February 27
Tuesday, March 4
ME, cont.; Small Group Ex. 4
Thursday, March 6
DVD 3350: “This earth, this realm, this England”; Crystal, pp, 56-69; "Early Modern English"; Take Quiz 3 by midnight
March 8-16 Spring Break
Tuesday, March 18
Early Modern English cont.; Review for Midterm
Thursday, March 20
Tuesday, March 25
Thursday, March 27
Grammar & Dictionaries, cont.; Take Quiz 4 by midnight
Tuesday, April 1
Grammar & Dictionaries, cont.; DVD no. 217, “Speaking Proper”
Thursday, April 3
Tuesday, April 8
Crystal, pp. 80-85; 92-97; 306-311; Small Group Ex. 5; also due by midnight: e-mail me () a proposal for your project
Thursday, April 10
Crystal, pp. 298-305; Crystal, pp. 312-339; DVD 4555: “American Tongues”; Interview with William Labov, “American Accent Undergoing Great Vowel Shift”
Tuesday, April 15
Small Group Ex. 6
Thursday, April 17
Take Quiz 7 by midnight; the “English Only Movement”; Crystal, pp. 115; video & audio recordings; NPR April 1, 2002: “Origins of ‘OK’”
Tuesday, April 22
Crystal, pp. 340-363; Small Group Ex. 7
Thursday, April 24
Tuesday, April 29
Projects Due; DVD 3559: “The Language of Empire"
Thursday, May 1
Tuesday, May 6
Last day of class
Saturday, May 10, 1:05-3:05 PM
The quizzes for this class will be made available online at the Scholar site. You will be able to take a quiz as many as two times, with the highest grade being the one recorded. Be advised that it is unlikely you will be presented with the same quiz twice as the quiz tool draws randomly from pools of questions to construct your quiz. Any quizzes taken after the due date will receive no higher than half credit. [back]