EN231 Introduction to Language

for FA 2011

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Mission Statement: Park University provides access to a quality higher education experience that prepares a diverse community of learners to think critically, communicate effectively, demonstrate a global perspective and engage in lifelong learning and service to others.

Vision Statement: Park University, a pioneering institution of higher learning since 1875, will provide leadership in quality, innovative education for a diversity of learners who will excel in their professional and personal service to the global community.


EN 231 Introduction to Language


FA 2011 HO


Lolly Ockerstrom, Ph.D.


Associate Professor of English


M.A., Ph.D. (English), Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Certificate, Martha's Vineyard Advanced Institutes on Writing

Office Location

321 Copley

Office Hours

MW 8:00 - 10:00 a.m., 11:00 - Noon; and by appointment

Daytime Phone




Semester Dates

15 August - 9 December 2011

Class Days

MW 3:00 - 4:15 p.m.

Class Time

3:00 - 4:15 PM


En 105/106 (or equivalent) and WCT.

Credit Hours



 Virginia Clark, Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa, and Beth Lee Simon, eds. Language: Introductory Readings. 
         7th edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008.
          ISBN: 10: 0-312-45018-4; 13:978-0-312-45018-2
A handbook containing MLA documentation style. Recommended: Andrea Lunsford. Easy Writer: A Pocket Reference. 4th edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010. ISBN: 10-0-312-55425-7

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:

Students learn best through engagement: reading, writing, discussion, working collaboratively, and discovery. In this course, students will acquire a language about language, and work on a variety of individual and collaborative projects. They will also learn to apply concepts to listening and writing projects.

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. Engage in field work and maintain a Language Observation Journal.
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:

  • Attendance/engagement (includes attendance and discussion; arriving in class on time prepared with homework; meaningful engagement in class discussions; possible quizzes).
  • Response papers
  • Critical essay
  • Language observation journal/field work
  • Translation/modernization of archaic text
  • Final exam


 In addition to the information below, see attendance policy.
Attendance/Engagement 100
2 Response Papers (15 points each)   30
Critical essay 100
Language Observation Notebook/field work   60
Translation/analysis   10
Final Exam 100
There are no "extra credit" projects
360-400 A
320-359 B
280-319 C
240-279 D
Below 240 F

Late Submission of Course Materials:

All assignments are expected on the due date at the beginning of class. 
  • Late assignments: a loss of 10 points for the first day late (this includes non-class days); 25 points for each additional day. No papers accepted after three days.
Please take note: Plan ahead and come prepared. You will not be excused to run down the hall to print out assignments or to turn in work later in the day (alas, such behavior will result in grade penalities). 
Make an appointment to see me to discuss problems you anticipate or encounter. Do not show up at my door 5 minutes before class to discuss a problem. Plan ahead, and give both of us time to meet. Treat your conversations with me with the dignity you expect from others.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

  • Arrive on time prepared with all assignments.  
  • Participate in class: this is not a lecture course, but a discussion class. This means everybody does the reading and writing assignments and contributes thoughtful, informed commentary. I think you'll find that the more you participate, the more you learn, and the more you enjoy the class.
  • Monitor yourself: if you speak too much, back off sometimes. Listen to others. If you listen, but do not speak, work on speaking. Set a goal to offer one question and one comment in every class until  you are more comfortable speaking in class.
  • Address the professor and your classmates with respect. Disagree appropriately.
  • Turn off all cell phones, iPods, computers, and every other electronic device. Students who use electronic devices in class will be considered absent.
  • Do not bring food into the classroom. This is a classroom, not a lunch room. Bottled water is fine.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

All readings are from Language: Introductory Readings (Virginia Clark, et al).
For each main section, read brief introductory commentary as well as assigned chapters.
Week One, Aug. 17 and 19: Part One: Language and Its Study (short intro, p. 1-2)
      Daniels, "Nine Ideas about Language," p. 3
      Bolton, "Language: an Introduction," p. 21
Week Two, Aug. 24 and 26: Part Two: The Sounds of Language, p. 85.
      Callary, "Phonetics," p. 87 
Week Three, Aug. 31 and Sept. 2: Part Three: Language Structures: Words and Phrases, p. 145
      Ohio State, The Minimal Units of Meaning: Morphemes, p. 147
      Genine Lentine and Roger W. Shuy, "Mc-: Meaning in the Marketplace, p. 173
Week Four, Sept. 7 and 9:  Language Structures (cont.)
      Frank Heny, "Syntax: The Structure of Sentences," p. 191
Reflective Paper # 1 due
Week Five, Sept. 14 and 16: Language Meaning and Language Use, p. 233
      Jean Aitchison, "Bad Birds and Better Birds: Prototype Theories," p. 252
      Elaine Chaika, "Pragmatics: Discourse Routines," p. 276 

Week Six, Sept. 21 and 23:
 Part Five: The History of the Language, p. 319
      Paul Roberts, "A Brief History of English," p. 330
 Translation/modernization due
Week Seven, Sept. 28 and 30:  Lee Pederson, "Dialects," p. 341
      Part Six: Part Language Variation and Social Interaction
Begin Language Observation Notebook: dialects
Week Eight, Oct. 5 and 7: Language Variation and Social Interaction, p.
      Paul Roberts, "Speech Communities," pl. 373
Language Observation Notebooks (speech communities)
FALL BREAK: Week of Oct. 10 
Week Nine, Oct. 19 and 21: Language and Culture, p. 449
      George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, "Metaphors We Live By," p. 458
Language Observation Notebook (metaphors)
Reflective Paper # 2 due. 
Week Ten, Oct.26 and 28: Ronald K.S. Macaulay, "Regional Dialects and Social Class," p. 383
Language Observation Notebook (regional dialects and social class)
Week Eleven, Nov. 2 and 4: Language and Gender, p. 505
      Deborah Tannen, "'I'll Explain It to You": Lecturing and Listening," p. 531
                                 " Ethnic Style in Male-Female Conversation," p. 545
Language Observation Notebook (male-female conversation)
 + end reflection/analysis due Friday, Nov. 4.
Week Twelve, Nov. 9 (no class Nov. 11, Veterans' Day):
      Shirley Brice Heath, "What No Bedtime Story Means," p. 798
      Writing Workshop: Topics for Critical Paper
Week Thirteen, Nov. 16 and 18:
      Celia M. Millward, "The Origins of Writing," p. 355
      James Crawford, "Endangered Native American Language: What Is to Be Done and Why," p. 424 
Week Fourteen, Nov. 23 (no class Nov. 25, Thanksgiving Recess):
      Critical paper due Wednesday. Short presentations of papers.
Week Fifteen, Nov. 30 and Dec. 2: Short presentations of papers (cont.) and wrap up.
Week Sixteen:  Final Exam



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 students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty (www.park.edu/current or http://www.park.edu/faculty/).from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93

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. from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93
Do your own work. When in doubt, cite your sources. Make an appointment with the Academic Support Center to discuss questions about documentation. Use MLA documentation style for this course.

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 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 96
Attendence Policy:

1-2 absences: No Penalty
3-4 absences: Loss of one full letter grade for the course (A=B)
5 absences: Loss of 2 full letter grades for the course (A=C)
6 or more absences: Failure to pass the course.

Athletes: Provide documentation for each absence. If you cannot be in class when an assignment is due, turn in work prior to your departure.

Everyone: Provide documentation from your physician if you are unable to attend class.

NOTE: Excessive absences, regardless of reason, will result in a failure to pass the course.

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 .


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:8/15/2011 1:35:24 PM