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Course : History of the English Language

Course Number
Section Number
Fall 2019
Bea Wood Hall, Jim Hoggard Room
Days & Times
Final Exam Day/Time
Tuesday, December 10, 2019 12:00 am

Required book:

This Language, A River: A History of English. By K. Aaron Smith and Susan M. Kim. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview, 2018. 

Course goals:

Write THREE 900-word (three-paragraph) typed double-spaced responses in support of a thesis position that answers this question: How does English work? MLA formatted; only one source: This Language, A River. Bibliographic citation at the end. 

Present FIVE PowerPoint Presentations: each person in a group takes 10 minutes on a topic found in that day’s relevant chapter. Presentations also review the relevant exercises. 

Outside Source Response. Prior to our two week in the 2nd floor Moffett Lab with Allison Breen, students sign up for Iliad (Interlibrary loan); students order one book and one article, timed to arrive just before we begin the two weeks in the library. Students write a 900-word three paragraph response in class about something in the article OR the book that answers our perennial question: How does English work? MLA formatted. Bibliographic citation at the end. Introduce the author, title (journal) at the beginning. 

FINAL EXAM – 50 questions. Students take an exam comprising questions selected from our book.


THREE 900-word responses to topics in This Language, A River: 30 percent (10 percent each)

FIVE PowerPoint Presentations: 50 percent (10 percent each)

900-word response for OUTSIDE SOURCE: 10 percent.

Final Exam – 50 questions from our book: 10 percent.

Suggested Daily Schedule & Due Dates:

Note: Dr. Fields must attend convention for Rocky Mountain MLA and will miss October 10 session in Moffett Library.

 August 27 29

Tuesday  Overview of course. Chapter 1. Introduction: Synchronic and diachronic approaches. Exercises 1.1-1.2.

Thursday Presentation Group 1: Chapter 2. Grammar Fundamentals, Parts of Speech, pp. 21-47. Exercises 2.1-2.10

September 3, 5

Tuesday  Presentation Group 2: Chapter 2, cont. Syntactic Relations for Nouns, pp. 50-55, exercises 2.11-2.14; Sentences, pp. 56-61. Exercises 2.15-2.17.

Thursday Presentation Group 3: Chapter 3. Before English. Indo-European and Proto-Indo-European reconstruction, pp. 63-68. The Genetic model: PIE nouns and verbs, pp. 69-76. Exercises 3.1-3.6.

September 10, 12

Tuesday  Presentation Group 4: Chapter 4. Introduction to Phonetics and the International Phonetic Alphabet, Symbols pp. 79-82. Consonants & Articulation & Voicing pp. 79-88. Exercises 4.1.1-12.

Thursday Presentation Group 1: Chapter 4, Symbols pp. 79-82. Vowels, pp. 88-91, continued. Exercises 4.1.13-25. 

September 17 19    First 900-word response due Thurs Sept 19.

Tuesday  Presentation Group 2: Chapter 5. Germanic. Migrations and branches. Grimm’s Law. Verner’s Law, pp. 93-99. Fixed initial stress on root, two-tense systems. Strong and weak adjectives and verbs, pp. 100-105. Exercises 5.1-5.4.


Thursday Presentation Group 3: Chapter 6, Phonemes, allophones, and morphemes, pp. 109-112

 September 24 26

Tuesday  Presentation Group 4: Chapter 7. Old English, Orthography pp. 113-27. Exercises 7.1-7.4. 

Thursday Presentation Group 1: Chapter 7, cont. Phonology; Old English verb, pp. 128-36. Exercises 7.5-7.7.

 October 1 3  

All students must participate both Tuesday and Thursday. Allison Breen will be our guide. Think of her as “She Who Must Be Obeyed.”

Oct 8 10  

All students must participate both Tuesday and Thursday. Allison Breen will be our guide. Think of her as “She Who Must Be Obeyed.”

October 15 17        Outside Source Response due Thurs Oct 17

Tuesday  Presentation Group 2: Chapter 7, cont. OE Personal Pronouns, pp. 136-141. Exercise 7.8.


Thursday Presentation Group 3: Chapter 7, cont. OE Adjective, Weak and Minor nouns, pp. 142-45, Exercises 7.9-7.10.

October 22, 24

Tuesday   Presentation Group 4: Chapter 7, cont. Verb position, parataxis, hypotaxis, and subordination. Influence of Old Norse, pp. 152-60; Old English texts, pp. 160-68.

Thursday Presentation Group 1: Chapter 8, Middle English, the Norman Conquest 169-177. Orthography, pp. 178-87. Exercises 8.1-8.4.

MONDAY OCT 28 is the last day for a penalty-free “W.”

October 29 31

Tuesday  Presentation Group 2: Chapter 8, cont. Sound change and strong masculine nouns, pp. 188-91. Exercises 8.1-8.2.

Thursday Presentation Group 3: Chapter 8, cont. Loss of [N] in weak nouns, plurals, adjectives, determiners,    Personal pronouns, pp. 192-97. Exercises 8.3-8.5.    

November 5 7         Second 900-Word Due Date Thursday Nov 7.

Tuesday  Presentation Group 4: Chapter 8, cont. Expansion of the verb phrase, pp. 197-203. Exercise 8.6-8.10.

Thursday SECOND 900-WORD (three-paragraph) RESPONSE DUE.

Thursday Chapter 8, cont. Middle English literature, pp. 204-214.

November 12 14

Tuesday  Presentation Group 1: Chapter 9, Early Modern English. Phonology and the Great Vowel Shift, pp. 222-26. Exercise 9.2.

Thursday Presentation Group 2: Chapter 9, cont. morphology and syntax, pp. 227-38. Exercise 9.3.

November 19 21

Tuesday  Presentation Group 3: Chapter 9, cont. Hybrid Verbs, pp. 239-44. Exercise 9.4.

Thursday Presentation Group 4: Chapter 9, cont. The King James Bible, Swift, Johnson, and a-prefixed participles, pp. 244-55. 

November 26  Thanksgiving Holiday November 27-29.

Tuesday   Chapter 10 The Modern Period & Global Englishes, Circles, Nigerian English, Singapore English, American English, pp. 257-70. Exercise 10.1.

Dec 3 5   THIRD 900-Word Response Due Date Thursday Dec 5

Tuesday  Immigration, slavery, geographic variation, vocal r, rhoticism, mapping dialects, pp. 270-80. Exercise 10.2.

Thursday THIRD 900-WORD (three-paragraph) RESPONSE DUE.

Thursday Sociolects, pp. 281-85. Exercise 10.3. African-American English, pidgins, creoles, Lumbee, pp. 285-97. Exercise 10.4

December 10 TUE 50-question Final Exam 8:00 AM in our regular classroom. Questions selected from THIS LANGUAGE, A RIVER.


See attached rubrics for presentations and written responses.

Four undocumented absences means 10 percent off the overall semester grade. The professor will accept documentation in the form of cellphone pictures (by email attachment) of clinic sign-in sheets, court dates, prescription labels, repair receipts, and work schedules; he will accept emails from family members, lawyers, and supervisors. Many times students are helping family members or friends in crisis. The key is keeping Dr. Fields in the loop, communicating and working with him by email, and, most importantly, coming to an agreement on how to document the absences.

Students must submit their work on due dates in person: not by surrogate, not under an office door, not left on a desk, and not by email attachment. If lateness is undocumented, the late penalty is 10 points out of 100. The Final Essay is penalized 10 points if not submitted in the official time window for that final exam.

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

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