EN231 Introduction to Language

for SP 2009

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Mission Statement: The mission of Park University, an entrepreneurial institution of learning, is to provide access to academic excellence, which will prepare learners to think critically, communicate effectively and engage in lifelong learning while serving a global community.

Vision Statement: Park University will be a renowned international leader in providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global society.


EN 231 Introduction to Language


SP 2009 HO


Dr. Emily Donnelli


Assistant Professor of English


PhD, English, University of Kansas
MA, English, University of Kansas
BA, English, William Jewell College

Office Location

Library 410

Office Hours

MWF, 1-3; other times by appointment

Daytime Phone




Web Page


Semester Dates

January 12 - May 8, 2009

Class Days


Class Time

3:15 - 4:30 PM

Credit Hours



Clark, Virginia, Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa, and Beth Lee Simon, eds. Language: Introductory Readings. 7th edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008.
Bryson, Bill. The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way. New York: Perennial, 1990.

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
Career Counseling - The Career Development Center (CDC) provides services for all stages of career development.  The mission of the CDC is to provide the career planning tools to ensure a lifetime of career success.
Park Helpdesk - If you have forgotten your OPEN ID or Password, or need assistance with your PirateMail account, please email helpdesk@park.edu or call 800-927-3024
Resources for Current Students - A great place to look for all kinds of information http://www.park.edu/Current/.

Course Description:
EN231 Introduction to Language: As an introduction to a general study of language, the course deals with the origin, nature and function of language as a uniquely human phenomenon. The history of English language and a survey of approaches to the analysis of languages are important components. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:
As the editors of our textbook express, “[l]anguage matters. It is an instrument through which we see and know ourselves and others, and it affects how we experience our world. Through language—in all its modes—we become ourselves, know our own thoughts, and construct our ideas” (Clark et al v). English 231 provides an excellent opportunity to study and reflect upon something we often take for granted: language. Why do we speak and write in the ways that we do? How does our language reflect our identities? How can greater language awareness influence our reading, writing, thinking, and even our social commitments and sense of civic engagement?

In this discussion-based, application-oriented course, we will explore various perspectives and methods for studying the English language—historical, linguistic, socio-linguistic, educational, developmental, and so on. Students will be encouraged to pursue those facets of study of most relevance to their interests as writers and as scholars of literature.    

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify standard components of language: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics
  2. Apply linguistic categories to the problems of language acquisition and dialect variation
  3. Sketch the history of English language and translate/modernize selected archaic texts

  Instructor Learning Outcomes
  1. Define and practice strategies for close reading of literary texts.
  2. Discuss, in the context of historical language development, issues related to ownership of language and the representation of ideas.
Core Assessment:

Critical Essay [Core Assessment] 100 points  The Critical Essay in this course will be a major critical paper of no fewer than 5 pages, which will include research and MLA documentation. The project will be completed in the final quarter of the term.

Link to Class Rubric

Class Assessment:
Formative assessments will consist of short papers and observation/application projects that allow students to explore and apply course concepts. Each student will also be responsible for leading class discussion on one topic of interest during the semester. Summative assessments consist of a mid-term examination and the core assessment, a critical paper designed by each student to investigate a particular interest related to the study of language.

Short Papers (4)                                                 100 points                                                          

Observation/Application Projects (10)                  100 points

Discussion Leadership                                           25 points

Mid-Term Examination                                        100 points                                          

Critical Essay (core assessment)                          200 points (prospectus = 50 & peer review = 50, out of 200)

Late Submission of Course Materials:
All assignments are due at the beginning of class.  One letter grade will be deducted for each day an assignment is late. Check your schedule for potential conflicts well ahead of due dates, and speak with me ahead of time if you anticipate difficulty meeting a deadline. 

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:


Week One

1/12: Introductions and Course Overview.

1/16: What’s In a Word?: Language and Its Study. Readings: Daniels, “Nine Ideas about Language” (Clark 3) and Bolton, “Language: An Introduction” (Clark 21).

Week Two

1/19: No Class: University Holiday.

1/23: Stylistics, Criticism, and The Practices of Close Reading in English Studies. Readings: Curzan et al “Stylistics” and TBA reading (on reserve at McAfee Library).    

Week Three

1/26: Phonology and Morphology. Readings: Bryson, “Pronunciation” (Ch 6), The Ohio State University Language Files, “The Minimal Units of Meaning: Morphemes” (Clark 147) and one of the following articles of your choice: Lentine and Shuy, “Mc-: Meaning in the Marketplace” (Clark 173) or Romich, “Understanding Basic Medical Terminology” (Clark 167).

1/30: Syntax, Sentence Constituents, and Sentence Patterns. Readings: Heny, “Syntax: The Structure of Sentences” (Clark 191).

Week Four

2/2: Semantics and Pragmatics. Readings: Pinker, “The Tower of Babel” (Clark 235) and
Heath, “What No Bedtime Story Means” (Clark 798).

2/6: Semantics and Pragmatics (cont.). Readings: Chaika, “Pragmatics: Discourse Routines” (Clark 276) and Fromkin et al, “The Development of Language in Genie” and “Genie: A Postscript” (Clark 652).

Week Five

2/9: History of English. Readings: Bryson, “The Dawn of Language,” “The First Thousand Years,” “Where Words Come From, and “Order Out of Chaos” (Ch 2, 4, 5, 10).

2/13: Old English:  Roberts, “A Brief History of English” (Clark 330), excerpts from various translations of Beowulf and secondary scholarship (on reserve at McAfee Library).

Week Six

                2/16: No Class. University Holiday.

2/20: Middle English. Readings: Selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and secondary scholarship (on reserve at McAfee Library).

Week Seven

2/23: Early Modern English and Dialects: Readings: Selections from Shakespeare and secondary scholarship (on reserve at McAfee Library).

2/27: Modern and Postmodern Englishes. Readings: Pederson “Dialects” (Clark 341), Bryson, “English as a World Language” and “The Future of English” (Ch 12 & 16).

Week Eight

3/2: Synthesis and Midterm Exam Preparation.

3/6: Midterm Examination.

Week Nine (3/9 & 3/13): Spring Break.

Week Ten

3/16: Dialects and Dialectology: Regional, Ethnic, and Socioeconomic Classifications. Readings: Macaulay, “Regional Dialects and Social Class” (Clark 383) and Bryson, “Varieties of English”
(Ch 7). Critical Paper Group Brainstorming Workshop.

3/20: Regional, Ethnic, and Socioeconomic Classifications (cont). Readings: PBS, “American Varieties” (available online). 

Week Eleven

3/23: Dialects and Dialectology: Gender(ed) Classifications. Readings: Lakoff and Johnson, excerpt from “Metaphors We Live By” (Clark 451) and Talbot, “Language and Gender” (Clark 507).

3/27: Critical Paper Research Lab (meet in McAfee Library). 

Week Twelve

3/30: Gender(ed) Classifications (cont). Readings: Johnson, “Discourse Patterns of Males and Females” (Clark 517) and Tannen, “‘I’ll Explain It to You’: Lecturing and Listening” (Clark 531).

4/3: Dialects and Dialectology: Standard American English & Academic English. Readings: Algeo, “What Makes Good English Good?” (Clark 777) and Bryson, “Good English and Bad” (Ch 9). Critical Paper Prospectus Due.

Week Thirteen

4/6: Academic English and the Ownership of Words. Prescriptive Grammar, Correctness. Readings: TBA.

4/10: No Class: University Holiday.

Week Fourteen

4/13: Small Group Writing Conferences (held in my office).

4/17: Peer Review: Critical Papers-in-Progress (full draft required).

Week Fifteen

4/20: Academic English and Writing in the “Real World.” Readings: Excerpts from Tannen’s “The Argument Culture: Stopping America’s War on Words” (on reserve at McAfee Library).

                4/24: Critical Paper Due (paper copy for me, RTF file uploaded to eCompanion).

Week Sixteen

                4/27: Critical Paper Presentations. Readings: Assigned Peer Papers.

                5/1: Critical Paper Presentations. Readings: Assigned Peer Papers.

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87
This is an interactive, discussion-based class that depends on your participation. With that said, here are my specific attendance policies:
• Missing four class meetings will result in an automatic drop of one letter grade.  
• Five absences will result in your failure of the course.  It is your responsibility to contact me or another student about what you missed in class if you are absent.  
• Except in cases of extended illness, death in the immediate family, school-sponsored activities, or religious holidays, I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences.
• Arrival to class more than 15 minutes late constitutes an absence.

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 89-90

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .

Syllabus in MS Word


CompetencyExceeds Expectation (3)Meets Expectation (2)Does Not Meet Expectation (1)No Evidence (0)
1, 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Offers clearly stated personal and critical insights into language and linguistics. Makes adequate personal and critical statements, which are relevant and interpretive. Provides only a report, which lacks interpretation or point of view. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
1, 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Incorporates primary and secondary sources using MLA documentation style perceptively and creatively in ways that provide new insights into language problems. Incorporates primary and secondary sources using MLA documentation style adequately without particularly fresh insights, but still retains personal voice. Primary and secondary sources used rarely if at all and without adequate MLA documentation. Insights are predictable. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
1, 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Provides convincing and innovative connections between theory and language. Provides connections between theory and language that are obvious but nonetheless plausible and interesting. Connections remain vague and undeveloped. Critique not supported by close readings. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Language and linguistic terminology applied skillfully throughout paper. Language and linguistic terminology used adequately throughout much of the paper. Rarely employs appropriate terminology, misuses it, or omits it altogether. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Content of Communication                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Skillfully interweaves passages from critical texts and personal statements that illustrate main point of essay. Adequately incorporates some passages with some personal statements that help support thesis, though sometimes strays from main point. Rarely provides specific passages from critical texts or personal research for analysis, or does so without making connections clear. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Technical Skill in Communicating                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Employs conventions of Standard Written English with grace and style in a well organized, fully developed essay. Employs conventions of Standard Written English adequately in a reasonably well organized and developed essay. Writing shows persistent problems with the use of Standard Written English. Statements are often illogical, incomprehensible; organization and development of ideas do not support thesis. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Identifies specific features of language characteristics                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Analysis fully and gracefully incorporates discussion of specific language features and functions. Analysis occasionally incorporates discussion of specific language features and functions. Does not incorporate specific language features and functions, or does so in ways that show little or no understanding of concepts . Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Applies linguistic theory to interpretation                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Gracefully incorporates linguistic theory, which helps to maintain a strong argument. Incorporates linguistic theory adequately in parts of the paper, though the argument is not particularly strong. Does not incorporate linguistic theory, or does so in ways that show little or no understanding of language analysis. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 


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Last Updated:1/7/2009 8:36:47 PM