ENGL 331

The Structure of Modern English: Sentences and their Uses (3 credits)

Course description
In this course, we study the principles by which contemporary English operates (beyond the level of the word). The course is taken up primarily with a detailed analysis of English sentence structure (syntax) from a generative perspective. In the remainder of the course, we consider the structure of both phrases and clauses in English. We then look at the interaction of syntax and semantics in terms of propositions and theta roles. We end with an examination of the functions and contexts of language use (pragmatics), including information structuring, speech act theory, and politeness.

Required text
L.J. Brinton and D.M. Brinton, The Linguistic Structure of Modern English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. (Approximate price $67)

Third-year standing and completion of the writing requirement in one’s Faculty. No previous linguistics or language course is required. ENGL 330 is not a prerequisite for ENGL 331 but is recommended.

Course format
The course consists primarily of traditional lecture, with time allotted for questions and discussion and some (ungraded) group work on exercises. The Powerpoint slides for all classes are posted on Canvas (in advance of class whenever possible). Since topics may be covered in class (in response to questions) that are not on the Power Point slides, attendance in class is strongly encouraged. However, attendance is not taken and does not figure into the final mark.

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.

Textbook readings for the course should be done in advance of the day assigned and reviewed afterwards.

All of the self-testing homework exercises listed on the syllabus should be completed: https://benjamins.com/sites/linguistic_structure_of_modern_english/

The written work required in this course includes:
1) three non-comprehensive unit tests: These will be non-comprehensive; each will be worth 23 1/3% of the final mark (the three tests total 70% of the final mark). The third test is scheduled during the April examination period but is no different in length and weight from the other tests. You must sit every test to pass the course.
2) six online quizzes: During most weeks, students will be required to complete online (on Connect) a quiz based on the material covered in the preceding week. Quizzes will be available for students to take from Friday (at noon) and due the following Friday before class (at 11:00)/ They are worth 30% of the final mark. Unlimited time may be taken to complete the quizzes (you may save your answers and return at a later time to the quiz) and they are open book, but they may be attempted only once.The final mark is determined as follows:
3 tests 70%
6 online quizzes 30%
If for personal/medical/family/academic reasons you are unable to sit a test on the date scheduled, you must speak to me beforehand.A student who fails a test has a one-time option of retaking a similar test on the same material within two weeks of the original test date. Quizzes cannot be retaken.

Learning outcomes
Upon completion of the course, students will have learned
• ways to analyze the structure of simple sentences, including dependency relations, phrasal structure, verb and adverb types, the auxiliary phrase, prepositional phrases and particles, and sentence;
• the structure of complex sentences, including nominal, adjectival, and adverbial dependent clauses, both finite and nonfinite;
• a recognition of the complexities of the expression of meaning on the sentence level, focusing on thematic roles; and
• an understanding of the effects of context and function of use upon the structure of the language, especially information structure, speech acts, implicatures, and politeness.

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.