E 364M • History of English Language
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
In this course we will survey the history of what could be argued to be now the most popular language in the world, and certainly the most widely known. Beginning with its prehistory on the Continent over two thousand years ago, we will trace the fortunes of English from Anglo-Saxon times to its present manifestations across national boundaries. We will learn the distinctions of sounds, inflectional endings, and sentence patterns that mark each major stage of the language. Though the course will focus on the different forms of the language as they survive in various texts, we will pay some attention to the interaction between the internal history of English and the social and political contexts that define its external history. The goal is a better understanding of change in English and the signs of this change that can be seen everywhere from spelling to legal procedure. No previous study of linguistics is required; a willingness to learn phonetic transcription early in the semester, however, is crucial.
Two in-class blue-book exams, 35%; Quizzes, workbook exercises, 40%; Comprehensive final exam, 25%. There will be no make-up quizzes for any reason, and no make-up final without a proven medical emergency.
Celia Millward, A Biography of the English Language, 2nd edition (1996); Millward, Workbook to Accompany A Biography of the English Language (1990); Harcourt, One Hundred Words Almost Everyone Mispronounces (2008).