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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2006

E 321L • American English

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35150 TTh
8:00 AM-9:30 AM

Course Description

We begin by examining the main differences in pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar between British English and American English, focusing on the varieties referred to as Received Pronunciation (RP) and General American (GA). We then move on to an examination of the non-standard variety of American English known as New York City English ('Brooklynese'), centering on the sociolinguistic work of the American linguist William Labov. Here, we will discuss social class, gender and ethnicity. We then examine the history, structure and social status of Black American English. We will also examine accent switching from one American accent to another, and the influence of American pronunciation on British pop singers. We will make use of both video and audio recordings on a regular basis.

Grading Policy

A 2,000 word essay on a topic chosen from a list 60%
Participation in class 20%
Class tests 20%


Excerpts from:
Collins, B. & Mees, I.M. (2003), Practical Phonetics and Phonology, London: Routledge. (Selected extracts from the book and the audio CD)
McCrum, R. (1992), The Story of English, London, Penguin, (Selected extract on Black American English, and video recording from the accompanying BBC television series)
Trudgill, P. (2000), Sociolinguistics, London, Penguin, (Sections on Labov's work in New York City)
Wells, J.C. (1982), Accents of English, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Sections on American English)


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