2014-2015 University Catalog 
    Mar 28, 2020  
2014-2015 University Catalog archived

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ENGL 311 - History of the English Language

Credits: 4
Planned Offering: Spring 2015 and alternate years.

Prerequisites: ENGL 299 or instructor consent. In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer's Friar can "make his Englissh sweete upon his tonge."  This course examines not only the alleged "sweetness" of English but also the evolution of the language from its origins to the present.  We study basic terms and concepts of linguistics and trace the changes in structure, pronunciation, and vocabulary from Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English to Modern English.  We consider how historical and cultural forces—invasion, revolution, migration, colonization, and assimilation—shape the language.  Moreover, we examine language myths, the construction of standard English, issues of correctness, orality, pidgins and creoles, and the variety of Englishes in their diverse configurations.  Finally, we ask how new media and technological praxes—hypertext, email, texting, and tweeting—have changed the English language, and if English may or may not be the lingua franca of our increasingly globalized world.  Requirements:  attendance, participation, quizzes, final exam, an oral presentation on a language myth, a short comparative paper, and a small-group digital humanities etymology project.   


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