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Elizabeth Cullingford, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2006


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35810 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
MEZ 1.204

Course Description

(This course is the third installment of the two-year language and linguistics historical sequence, components of which can be taken separately and in any order.) In this course we examine what lies between Middle English and our own. We will study changes in the sounds, spellings, inflectional systems, word order, punctuation, slang and register, syntax, and semantics as they affect the textuality of English between the rise of printing and the beginning of the eighteenth century. Topics include the change from thou to (singular) you, the spread and functions of auxiliary do (contrasted with contemporary German tun), the passive progressive and other expansions of the auxiliary system, including the shift from deontic to epistemic modal verbs, the systematization of adverbial meaning and adverbial position in the clause, the coexistence of -s, -th, and other present-tense inflections, the Great Vowel Shift, the spelling of function words in early texts and what cultural or graphic features might influence such regularization, and, generally, the (re)birth of prescriptive grammar in early Modern English. In the past ten years there has been an explosion of new work facilitated by the increasing availability and sophistication of databases for texts composed and read in this period. We will look at ordinary prose as well as dramatic and other sorts of literary texts. We may look at linguistic methods of determining criteria for authorship (Don Foster and his enemies, such as Brian Vickers). There will be exercises, a midterm, and a final exam. A substantive paper, developed over the course of the semester and negotiated with the instructor, may substitute for the final exam.


Historical Sociolinguistics: Terttu Nevalainen (2002)

Everyday English 1500-1700: A Reader (Edinburgh, 1998) ed. Bridget Cusack Available from the University of Michigan online at

Introduction to Early Modern English (Cambridge, 1991) Manfred Gørlach

A Shakespearian Grammar, Jonathan Hope (Arden, 2003)


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