EN231 Introduction to Language

for SP 2012

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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


SP 2012 HO


Okerstrom, Dennis R.


Professor of English


Ph.D.-- English and History

Office Location

305 Copley Hall

Office Hours

7:30 -- 8, MWF; 9 -- 11, MWF, or by appointment.

Daytime Phone




Semester Dates

17 January -- 04 May 2012

Class Days


Class Time

3:00 - 4:15 PM

Credit Hours



Language: Introductory Readings, 7th ed.  Clark, et al.  Bedford/St. Martins, 2008.
Additionally, the professor will assign readings from journals (through JSTOR), as well as provide occasional materials from other sources.

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

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

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:
Short papers, a critical essay, presentations.


I subscribe to the implied grading contract plan.  Here's how it works: you decide how hard you wish to work, and satisfactorily complete the requirements for the corresponding final grade.  As you might guess, you will work harder for a B than a C, and harder still for an A, but somehow there is beauty and a kind of universal harmony in that, don't you think?
So, here's what:  For a C, scholars must submit five 2-3 pp. response papers to the readings, either from the main text or supplemental reading assignments.  (More about the exact expectations for those papers later.)  Write a critical essay (core assessment) of no fewer than 5 pages, ds, 12 pt. font, using at least three sources and MLA documentation.  Complete a journal of language (words and phrases you come across during the semester that you find useful, enchanting, or graceful).  
For a B, scholars must submit seven response papers; a critical essay; a language journal; and a 3-4 pp. report on an unassigned journal article of the scholar's choice pertaining to some aspect of language.   You should check with the professor on your choice of journal article.
For an A, all of the above, plus a 15-20 minute presentation on some aspect of language that interests the scholar.  The particularly astute scholar might be thinking right about now that she will game the system and use either the material already studied for the critical essay, or from the additional journal report, for the presentation.  Bingo!  Of course that works.  A suggestion: if you wish to present your findings to the class, do so before writing the essay.  That way, you get feedback from the class and your professor that might prove helpful to your project.  Presentations may be scheduled for any time during the last four weeks of the semester.
Having said all of that, please see the attendance policy to see if class attendance is necessary.  (Hint: it is directly connected to success in the classroom).

Late Submission of Course Materials:
Late material is a pain in the how-you-say for your professor, unfair to other students, and does not model what you might expect from students in your own classes should you become an educator.   In extraordinary circumstances, late material will be accepted on a case-by-case basis.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
Grown-up rules apply.  No crowding in line, no hitting other students or your professor, no running with scissors.  And that texting thingee on your phone: don't.   It's rude, juvenile, and curiously obsessive.  If you can't refrain for 75 minutes, please seek addiction counseling after you withdraw from this class.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Please note: the following assignments are written on paper, not engraved in stone.  From time to time, the professor may include something he believes is particularly cogent and relevant in addition to or in place of a particular reading.  Please also be aware that your professor will not lecture; rather, he will expect you as scholars to participate in discussions that analyze, compare, question, make connections, and evaluate the materials considered.
Week One:  Introductions, and all that.  Explanation of course requirements and expectations.  Short discussion of language itself.  Please read ahead for week two to be prepared.
Week Two:  Daniels, "Nine Ideas About Language," p. 3.
                    Bolton, "Language: An Introduction," p. 21.
Week Three:  Part Two: The Sounds of Language, p. 85
                    Callary, "Phonetics," p. 87.
Week Four:  Language structures: Words and Phrases, p. 145.
                    Ohio State, The Minimal Units of Meaning: Morphemes, p. 147.
                    Letine and Shuy, "Mc-: Meaning in the Marketplace," p. 173.
Week Five:  More Language Structure:
                   Heny, "Syntax: The Structure of Sentences," p. 191.
Week Six:  Language Meaning and Language Use, p. 233.
                 Aitchison, "Bad Birds and Better Birds: Prototype Theories," p. 252.
                Chaika, "Pragmatics: Discourse Routines," p. 276.
Week Seven:  History of Language, p. 319.
                    Roberts, "A Brief History of English," p. 330.
Week Eight: Pederson, "Dialects," p. 341.
                     Language Variation and Social Interaction, p. 371.
Spring Break!
Week Nine:  Roberts, "Speech Communities," p. 373.  Class discussion:  Implications in teaching.
                    Wolfram and Schilling-Estes, "Standards and Vernaculars," p. 398.
Week Ten:  Language and Culture, p. 449.
                  Lakoff and Johnson, "Metaphors We Live By," p. 458.
                  Lord, "Native Tongues," p. 480.
Week Eleven:  Macauley, "Regional Dialects and Social Class," p. 383.
                   Workshop: collaborative conversations focused on critical essay topics.
Week Twelve:  Language and Gender, p. 505.
                        Tannen, "'I'll Explain It to You":  Lecturing and Listening," p. 531.
                         _____,  "Ethnic Style in Male-Female Conversation," p. 545.
Week Thirteen:  Heath, "What No Bedtime Story Means," p. 798.
                         Begin student presentations.
Week Fourteen:  Millward, "The Origins of Writing," p. 355.
                          Crawford, "Endangered Native American Language," p. 424.
Week Fifteen:  Lederer, "Is English Prejudiced?"  Supplied by professor.
                      Presentations by Scholars.
 Week Sixteen:  Fun English.  Excerpts from Lederer's Crazy English.  Supplied by professor. 
                       Presentations and wrap-up.

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
Honesty is a core value for being a decent human being. Academic dishonesty in this class will mean a failing final grade.

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
Plagiarism is one form of academic honesty.  See above.

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
If you are not in class I cannot teach you and you can neither learn from your classmates nor share your wisdom with them; it makes sense to attend class.  I will give you gratis, as in free, two absences with no questions asked.  For each additional two absences (which is a week in this course), your final grade will be lowered by one letter grade.

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:1/14/2012 10:40:54 AM