ENGL 330

The Structure of Modern English: Sounds and Words

Course description
In this course, we study the sound system of English (phonology) and word formation and classification in English (morphology). We begin by studying how speech sounds are articulated and we learn to transcribe English speech sounds using the phonetic alphabet. We identify both the distinctive sounds of English and the sound combinations possible in English, as well as the patterns of stress, intonation, and syllabification. We turn next to an analysis of the meaningful units in language – affixes and roots – and examine how they combine to form words, are grammatically modified, and can be classified into parts of speech. Last, we consider both traditional and structural approaches to the question of word meaning (semantics), giving some attention to cognitive approaches to meaning. In English 330A, emphasis is placed upon the description of English rather than on any particular theory of linguistics.

Required text
L.J. Brinton and D.M. Brinton, The Linguistic Structure of Modern English (Benjamins 2010).

Third-year standing and completion of the writing requirement in one’s Faculty. No previous linguistics or language course is required. ENGL 330 and 331 may be taken concurrently or in reverse sequence.

Course Evaluation
The written work required in this course includes:

  • three unit tests. These will be noncomprehensive; each will be worth 21 1/3% of the final mark. The third test is scheduled during the December examination period. The in-class tests will be similar in kind to the homework exercises, including fill-in-the-blank type questions, brief problems, short answer/essay questions, and definitions. You must sit every test to pass the course.
  • six online quizzes. These will be available on Friday after class and due the following Monday at the end of of the day (11:59 p.m). There will be no class at Mondays when quizzes are due. Questions are matching, multiple choice, and T/F. Unlimited time is given for the quizzes, but they may be attempted only once. They are open-book.

All of the self-testing homework exercises (https://benjamins.com/sites/linguistic_structure_of_modern_english/) listed on the syllabus should be completed. Time will be allotted in class for going over the exercises.

The final mark is determined as follows:
3 tests                          64%
6 online quizzes            36%

If for personal/medical/family/academic reasons you are unable to sit a test on the date scheduled, you must speak to me beforehand.

Nature of the Course
This course will require you to learn a body of factual information and a technical vocabulary, to use your problem-solving abilities in applying the concepts learned to the analysis of concrete examples, and to acquire a set of skills, including phonetic transcription.

Format of the Course
The course will be primarily lecture with question and answer. If time permits, there may be some opportunity for group work on exercises in class.

Practical applications of the course
Because of the understanding of the language imparted by this course, it has practical applications for the teaching of English, either to those for whom English is a native language or those for whom it is an additional language. It also has applications for the stylistic analysis of texts (literary or non-literary) since it provides the precise concepts and necessary language for discussing language in a precise way. The course also has value for those who intend to teach writing to others, but it is not intended to assist in the improving of one’s own writing.

Students will be expected

  • to attend class regularly and participate in class activities
  • to do the readings by the beginning of the week in which they are assigned and come to class with questions or comments from the reading
  • to complete the exercises on time and to come to class prepared to discuss them
  • to arrange with a classmate to collect handouts when they are absent

The instructor will be expected

  • to listen to students’ concerns about the difficulty of the material, pace of the class, and other aspects of the class and respond accordingly
  • to be available for consultation

Both instructor and student will be expected

  • to treat one another with respect and fairness
  • to be attentive and curious about their language and share observations about language with the class

All materials of this course (course handouts, lecture slides, assessments, course readings, etc.) are the intellectual property of the Course Instructor or licensed to be used in this course by the copyright owner. Redistribution of these materials by any means without permission of the copyright holder(s) constitutes a breach of copyright and may lead to academic discipline.