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English 3720: Development of Modern English
Dr. Lisa Minnick

English 3720 meets MW 2-3:50 p.m. in 4030 Brown
Office hours: Tuesdays 3-5 p.m. and by appointment in 923 Sprau


Navigation links for Fall 2010 syllabus:

Course description

From the catalog: English 3720 traces the history of the English language from its prehistory through its beginnings in Britain and its continuing development to the present day, including the development of American English as well as English(es) spoken around the world. The course explores sociohistorical and linguistic influences on the language and explores theories and mechanisms of language change.

Learning objectives

Students who complete the course successfully will acquire the following:

Required texts

Final exam 20%
Midterm exam 20%
Term paper 20%
Quizzes 15%
Homework 15%
Attendance and participation 10%

In order to participate in online discussions and complete certain electronic assignments, all students will need to join our class Facebook group: English 3720, Fall 2010.

Exams: The midterm will cover beginnings through Old English, and the fnal will cover Middle English and beyond. Both exams will include phonetic transcriptions, articulatory descriptions, identifcations, and terminology, and both will contain material from lecture, discussion, and readings.

Term paper: This is an opportunity for you to apply concepts from class and present the results in journal-article format. Extensive assignment guidelines will be provided. Please note that this course requires college-level research and writing skills, that I will expect your paper to achieve the quality appropriate at the 3000 level, and that papers will be graded accordingly. You will need to research, develop, draft, revise, and edit conscientiously over the assignment period in order to complete this assignment satisfactorily. I encourage you to meet with me to discuss your ideas and go over your drafts. Students who take me up on this generally produce better papers than those who don't.

Quizzes: In this course, you will learn the International Phonetic Alphabet and other linguistic description skills and terms. Quizzes are opportunities to apply this knowledge as part of your preparation for the advanced instruction in English linguistics that occurs in ENGL 3720.

Homework assignments engage the skills and knowledge you will need for the course, as well as make it possible to explore topics beyond our classroom readings and discussions and to collaborate and exchange ideas in creative ways.

Course policies

Attendance and participation: I think the Development of Modern English is fun and interesting, but it is also demanding, requiring a solid set of skills and base of knowledge that you will have to master early on, so active participation is a must. This means you need to be present every day to the extent that it is humanly possible. Readings, discussions, and activities complement each other, so you need to be in class in order to participate in all components of the course. We will cover a tremendous amount of material during each class meeting. If you must miss class, my policy is to permit three “free” absences. By “free,” I mean no questions asked and that I do not diferentiate between excused and unexcused absences. I also mean that’s all you get. Exceptions can only be made in cases of serious illness (such as those requiring hospitalization) and other documentable emergencies. If you miss additional class meetings, there may be a substantial deduction in your course grade. Five or more absences may result in a course grade of E. It is each student’s responsibility to stay on top of all course material and assignments and get the notes from a classmate following an absence. Missed classes cannot be made up in ofce hours or at any other time. Leaving at the break counts as an absence.

Arriving late to class and leaving early should be kept to a minimum. If you’re late, you risk missing important course content which may be over by the time you get there. Late arrivals can also be distracting to other students and the instructor. The same goes for leaving early. If you are late, please stay after class to make sure you have been marked present. Habitual lateness will result in a reduction of your attendance and participation score and hence your course grade.

Late work is generally frowned upon in college and elsewhere, and this class is no exception. Arrangements must be made in advance (and you’ll need a documentable explanation). Unexplained late work (or excuses after the fact) will not be accepted and a grade of zero will be assessed.

Makeups: Quizzes and in-class assignments and activities cannot be made up if missed because of lateness or absence. Makeups on major assignments, such as exams or papers, must be arranged with me in advance of due dates in order to avoid penalties, and you will have to make a pretty strong case in order to be granted an extension or makeup exams.

Classroom etiquette: You are encouraged to read and think critically and of course not required to agree with everything you read or hear in this class. In my experience, learning works best when an open dialogue is encouraged. All thoughtful contributions are welcome; I ask only that everyone be respectful during class discussions. The goal is for our classroom to be a safe place to fex your intellectual muscles, where everyone feels comfortable generating, expressing, and challenging ideas. Your help in reaching this goal is essential. Also, please familiarize yourself with the WMU Student Code, linked here. Students who are not willing to abide by the code and respect the rights of everyone to a comfortable teaching and learning environment will be asked to leave. Other etiquette issues: Sleeping, eating, grooming, reading non-course materials, doing homework, having conversations, using any kind of electronic communications device, and other such activities are discouraged because of their disruptive and impolite nature, and also because they impede full participation. Your active participation is part of your course grade, of course, but also, nothing interesting will happen in class without your input. That is, the class will be as interesting as you make it.

No recording of any kind – audio, video, photographic, or otherwise – is permitted in this class without the informed consent of all students and the instructor. Everyone in this class has a right not to have their voices and/or likenesses recorded without their knowledge and permission, including the instructor.

Learning the discipline of linguistics is a cumulative process. Gaps in your knowledge early on can cause problems later. Let me know as soon as you can if you feel like you’re getting behind. My job is to help you learn this stuf, so by all means take advantage of this resource by coming to ofce hours, talking with me after class or during the break, or making an appointment to meet.

Grading scale for all assignments:

A = 4 for excellent work (not 'good' or 'above average'); work of the highest quality.
BA = 3.5
B = 3
CB = 2.5
C = 2
DC = 1.5
D = 1
E = .5 for work that does not meet minimum standards; 0 for work not turned in.

Graded assignments and exams will generally be returned within one to two weeks.

At any time during the semester, you are welcome and encouraged to stop by during office hours (or make an appointment, if you are not free during office hours) to discuss your progress in the course.

University Policies

Religious Observances Policy: The University is a diverse, multicultural enterprise and, as a community, we jointly embrace both individual responsibility and dignified respect for our differences. It is WMU’s general policy to permit students to fulfill obligations set aside by their faith. It is the University’s intent that students who must be absent from scheduled classes to fulfill religious obligations or observe practices associated with their faith not be disadvantaged. However, it is the student’s responsibility to make arrangements with his/her instructors in advance. It is in the student’s best interests to approach each instructor expeditiously and with sufficient notice so that the rights and responsibilities of the instructor are not disrupted. I ask to be informed early in the semester if you must miss class for religious reasons.

Students with disabilities should contact Ms. Beth Denhartigh at 387-2116 or beth (dot) denhartigh (at) wmich (dot) edu so that any physical, learning, vision, hearing, or other disability can be documented and accommodations arranged. Please note that a determination must be made by Ms. Denhartigh’s office before accommodations can be made.

Academic honesty: All work you turn in for this class must be your own, with all outside reference sources properly cited and acknowledged. Plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, any kind of falsification or forgery, computer misuse, multiple submission, complicity, and any other type of academic dishonesty on any exams or work assigned for this course, will not be tolerated in any form. All students are required to read and comply fully with the policies and definitions outlined in the Western Michigan University statement on academic integrity, linked here. If there is reason to believe any student has been involved in academic dishonesty, he or she will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. The student will be given the opportunity to review the charge(s) and have the opportunity for a hearing. Please consult with me if you are in doubt about how to cite a source in your paper, whether a source is appropriate, whether a citation is needed, if you are not sure what level of help on an assignment constitutes complicity or collusion, or with any other academic integrity questions. As I am also required to uphold the standards of academic integrity, my policy is zero tolerance for any type of deception, and I do not want for any of you to find out the hard way how seriously I take this.

Schedule of Reading and Major Writing Assignments

Please refer frequently to our class updates page, linked here, and Facebook Group page for news, announcements, and schedule changes. These things happen. Lectures and discussions will not be recapitulations of readings; rather, readings, lectures, and discussions complement one another. Therefore, it is important that all students come to class each Monday having read the week’s assignments unless otherwise noted.

Week 1: Introduction to the History of English and how to study it.
Sept 08

Wednesday, Sept 08: Introduction to course.


Week 2: The sounds of language: introduction to the phonetic alphabet.
Sept 13-15

Monday, Sept 13: Come to class having read Meyer, "The Study of Language." Discussion topics:

Wednesday, Sept 15: Come to class having read Algeo and Pyles, “The Sounds of Current English.” Discussion topics:

Week 3: Before English: the Indo-European hypothesis, language relatedness, and English as a Germanic language.
Sept 20-22

Homework 1 due Monday, Sept 20. Quiz 1 Wednesday, Sept 22.

Reading assignment: Singh, “Language Families and the Pre-history of English,” and McIntyre, History of English, chapter C1.1 (80-4). Discussion topics:

Week 4: From Indo-Eurpean to Germanic; the First Sound Shift.
Sept 27-29

Homework 2 due Wednesday, Sept 29.

Continue to work through Singh, “Language Families and the Pre-history of English,” and McIntyre, ch. C1.1.

Week 5: Old English, or “This is English? It looks like a foreign language!”

Oct 04-06

Quiz 2 Wednesday, Oct 06.

Read McIntyre, chapters A1-A2 (pp. 2-11) and D1-D2 (pp. 128-39). Discussion topics:

Week 6: Old English phonology, grammar, and lexicon.
Oct 11-13

Homework 3 due Wednesday, Oct 13.

Read McIntyre, chapters B1-B2 (36-47) , C.1.2-C.1.3 (pp. 84-5), and C2 (pp. 86-91). Discussion topics:

Week 7: Midterm exam week. Review Monday, exam Wednesday on all material up to and including Old English.
Oct 18-20

Monday, Oct 18: Complete discussion of Old English. Review for exam.

Wednesday, Oct 20: Midterm exam

Week 8: Middle English, or “Wait, this still looks like a foreign language!”
Oct 25-27

Read McIntyre, chapters A3 (pp. 11-6), C3 (pp. 91-5), and D3 (pp. 139-43). Discussion topics:

Week 9: Middle English phonology, grammar, and lexicon.
Nov 01-03

Homework 4 due Monday, Nov 01. Quiz 3 Wednesday, Nov 03.

Read McIntyre, chapter B3 (pp. 47-53). Discussion topics:

Week 10: Evolution and revolution: Early Modern English.
Nov 08-10

Last date to withdraw from classes: Monday, Nov 08 (not that you’d want to).

Read McIntyre, chapters A4 (pp. 16-20), B5 (pp. 60-66), and D4 (pp. 144-54). Discussion topics:

Week 11: Prescriptivism and standardization: Early Modern English continued.
Nov 15-17

Homework 5 due Monday, Nov 15. Quiz 4 Wednesday, Nov 17.

Read McIntyre, chapter A5 (pp.20-5), C4 (pp.95-102), D5 (pp. 154-60) and Bodine, “Androcentrism in
Prescriptive Grammar.” Discussion topics:

Week 12: Later Modern English and Present-Day English...at last!
Nov 22-24

Term papers due electronically by midnight on Tuesday, Nov 23.

Monday, Nov 22: Read McIntyre, chapters A6-A7 (pp. 25-31) and B6 (pp. 66-70). Discussion topics:

Wednesday, Nov 24: Thanksgiving break – no class!

Week 13: Postmodern English? American English and English around the world.
Nov 29-Dec 01

Read McIntyre, chapters A8 (31-4), B7-B8 (pp. 70-78), and C8 (pp. 122-5). Discussion topics:

Week 14: Last week of class. American English and English around the world.
Dec 06-08

Read McIntyre, chapters B8 (76-8), C7-C8 (pp. 113-25), and D8 (pp. 178-82). Discussion topics:

Week 15: Final Exam: Wednesday, December 15, 2:45 - 4:45 p.m.


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