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Anthony C. Woodbury, Chair CLA 4.304, Mailcode B5100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-1701

Fall 2003

LIN 360K • Introduction to English Grammar

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
38000 MWF
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
PAR 105

Course Description

The title of this course can create confusion since grammar has at least six commonly-understood meanings in contemporary American English. This section of E/LIN 360K assumes that grammar means the characteristic system of inflections and syntax of the language as dictated by a system of constitutive rules. Constitutive rules are radically different from regulative rules. Constitutive rules of grammar define the inherent nature of the language; regulative rules, on the other hand, are imposed upon the language to dictate what is to be preferred and avoided in the manipulation of that language. This orientation of this section of 360K is descriptive, not prescriptive. The purpose of this section of 360K is to teach students to analyze the structure of sentences and to become more sophisticated in their understanding of language variation. It does not presume to teach them skills in the use of English. This section also assumes a fundamental distinction between the grammar of English and the mechanics of the writing system of English. The course does not include any attention to "mechanics" (spelling, punctuation, and capitalization). If one assumes that E/LIN 360K is a "refresher" course in the kind of grammar typically taught in American primary and secondary schools, then one egregiously misunderstands the nature and function of this class. The course begins with a brief, but critical, review of the traditional, Latinate description of English grammar to establish its numerous inadequacies. The course progresses with the development of a phrase structure analysis of English syntax. Students learn tests for constituents and for relationships between constituents that are objectively verifiable, and they learn principles of categorization for lexical and phrasal constituents. They use these tests and principles to analyze sentences and justify their analyses. The course assumes a familiarity with traditional, Latinate grammar of English, which is commonly taught in primary and secondary schools in this country. Students who have forgotten what they were taught about grammar may want to review on their own. Those students who claim that they were never taught grammar or those who insist that they do not remember any grammar that they were taught will not be disadvantaged. However, they may not appreciate the significance of the approach of this course as much as those who were taught "traditional grammar" and remember their experience.

Grading Policy

Approximately twelve syntax exercises 20% A syntax analysis project 50% Three syntax tests 25% Class performance 05%


One course packet available from Speedway Printing in Dobie Mall. Norman Stageberg and Dallin Oakes, 5th ed.


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