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EH 408/508: History of the English Language























This course aims to illustrate, as much as it can in a compressed format, the development of the English language from the Anglo-Saxon period to the present. We will be concerned with the whole history of the language, its phonological and morphological development, as well as its cultural, political, and economic impact. We will look significantly at literary and other social textual examples of English across time in order to see both how the language changes and how aware authors are of that change. We will discuss English as a cultural, economic, political, and religious force. We will see English as a language of the British Isles, as an American language, and as a global language.

Syllabus

Assignments

Course Links

Calendar

Jan. 9- syllabus, course materials

 

Jan. 11- American Tongues (documentary)

HW: Read Crystal “Introduction”; Cable Ch. 2 “The Indo-European Family of Languages”

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Jan. 16- no class


Jan. 18- Finish watching American Tongues; The OED; The Indo-European Family of Languages; listen to world languages and then speakers of “Global English”

HW: Read Crystal Ch. 1 “The origins of Old English”; “Interlude 1: The Celtic Language Puzzle”

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Jan. 23- Old English

HW: Read Crystal Ch. 2 “The Old English Dialects” and “Interlude 2: The rise and fall of West Saxon”

 

Jan. 25- Old English dialect; “Caedmon’s Hymn” (the first poem in English) in Northumbrian Old English and in West Saxon Old English,

HW: Read Crystal Ch. 3 “Early lexical diversity” and “Interlude 3: Understanding the Danes” “Norman Conquest and the Subjection of English”

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Jan. 30- Influence of the Church, Latin, “The Dream of the Rood”

HW: Read Crystal Ch. 4 “Stylistic variation in Old English” and “Interlude 4: Grammatical transition”

 

Feb. 1- Style in Old English poetry

HW: Read Crystal Ch. 5 “The Transition to Middle English” and “Interlude 5: Two Peterborough Chronicles”

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Feb. 6- Middle English introduction; Peterborough Chronicle excerpts

HW: Read Crystal Ch. 6 “A trilingual nation” and “Interlude 6: Lay Subsidy dialects”; Ch. 7 “Lexical Invasions” 


Feb. 8 No class

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Feb. 13- French Invasion: Anglo-Norman examples, Lawman’s Brut (excerpt)

HW: Read “Interlude 7: The first dialect story”; read Chaucer’ s The Reeve’s Tale; excerpts of The Owl and the Nightingale, The Second Shepherd's Play from the Towneley Cycle

 

Feb. 15- Dialect and The Reeve’s Tale 

HW: Read Crystal Chapter 8 “Evolving Variation” and “Interlude 8: Well well” , read sample texts (ANGEL) and pick out dialect

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Feb. 20- The flourishing of English; the Auchinleck MS; Chaucer

HW: Read Crystal Ch. 9 “A dialect age” and “Interlude 9: Where did the –s ending come from?; ”read excerpts from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Northwest West Midlands)

 

Feb. 22- The flowering of English; Alliterative Revival

HW: HW: Read Crystal Ch. 10 “The Emerging Standard” and Fisher, “A Lancastrian Language Policy” (ANGEL)

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Feb. 27- Standardization?

HW: Read Crystal Ch. 11 “Printing and its consequences” and “Interlude 11: The first English dictionary”

 

Feb. 29- examples from early dictionaries; excerpt from William Bullokar’s “Books at Large” treatise on English phonetics

HW: Read Crystal Ch. 12 “Early Modern English Preoccupations”; “Interlude 12: Choosing thou or you”; Ch. 13 “Linguistic Daring”

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Mar. 5- A changing language

HW: Exercise using OED—A Shakespeare sonnet versus a Sydney sonnet from Astrophil and Stella: Who was the real language liberal, who was using the newest words according to the OED?)

 

Mar. 7- Innovators

HW: study for Exam 1

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Mar. 12-Mid-Term Exam

 

Mar. 14-no class

 

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Mar. 19-Spring Break       

 

Mar. 17-Spring Break

HW: Read Crystal Ch. 15 “Stabilizing Order”; “Interlude 15: Delusions of simplicity”

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Mar. 26- Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary

HW: Ch. 16 “Standard Rules” and “Interlude 16: Glottal Stops”

 

Mar. 28- Novel’s impact; Print innovations

HW: Read Cable “English in America” (on ANGEL)

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Apr. 2- Discuss map of American Dialects (http://www.ling.upenn.edu/phono_atlas/NationalMap/NationalMap.html)

HW: read Charles Chestnutt, “Po’ Sandy”; Irvine Welsh "A Soft Touch" and "Granny's Old Junk" (both on ANGEL)

 

Apr. 4- Dialect and literature

HW: John Rickford, “Suite for Ebony and Phonics” (handout); James Baldwin, “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” (handout)

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Apr. 9-Annotated Bibliography Due; Race and Language

HW: Ana Celia Zentella “The Hows and Whys of ‘Spanglish’” (on ANGEL); Gloria Anzaldua, “How To Tame a Wild Tongue” (on ANGEL)

 

Apr. 11- English and Spanish and Spanish and English

HW: David Crystal, “Why a Global Language?” (on ANGEL); Barbara Wallraff, "English As Global Language?" (from The Atlantic article link), Shashi Tharoor, “A Bedeviling Question in the Cadence of English” (on ANGEL)

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Apr. 16- Global English

 

Apr. 18-TBA

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Apr. 23- Essay Due