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

Summer 2005

E f376L • The English Language and Its Social Context

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
83855 MTWThF
10:00 AM-11:30 AM
PAR 105

Course Description

The English Language and Its Social Context is a course designed for students (especially English majors and future teachers of English and rhetoric) who want to know more about the social and political issues involving the English language. Its general aim is to acquaint students with the language history, theory, and research most relevant to teachers of literature and rhetoric. Our goals will be to become informed about the linguistic history and diversity of the U.S.; to study pedagogical issues involving language acquisition and language variety; to discuss problems of language and public policy; and to explore the particular tensions involving English language teaching, especially the problem of how to reconcile a love of English-language literature with a respect for language variety. Topics include: basics about language and biology (language universals, language acquisition); prescriptive and descriptive approaches to language; linguistic diversity in the U.S. (language maintenance, language and social mobility); language variation (dialects, styles, bilingualism); the social parameters of variation (variation by age, class, and gender); linguistic attitudes (linguistic insecurity, linguistic perception); language variety and education; and language and public policy.

Grading Policy

Written assignments 25%
Three exams 25% each, 75%
The written assignments will be one 2-3 page paper and one 4-5 page paper.
Attendance, participation in discussion, and satisfactory work on ungraded exercises are essential.


Laurie Bauer and Peter Trudgill, eds., Language Myths, Penguin, 1998
Dicker, Susan., Language in America: A Pluralist View, Multilingual Matters Ltd., 1996 (Optional.)
Rosina Lippi-Green, English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States, Routledge, 1997
Steven Pinker, Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language, Perennial, 1999, (Optional)
Ronald Wardhaugh, Proper English: Myths and Misunderstandings about Language, Blackwell, 1999
Walt Wolfram and Natalie Schilling-Estes, American English, Blackwell, 1998
Course packet (available at Speedway Copy in Dobie Mall or on electronic reserve)


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