English 663

ENGL 663

Catalog Entry

English 663. Linguistics
Three hours lecture (3).

Introduction to development of the scientific description of modern English through a study of structural linguistics and generative transformational grammar. Designed to facilitate the application of linguistics to the teaching of English grammar.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course provides an overview of the development of linguistic analysis in the Modern English period, particularly in terms of the conflict between prescriptive and descriptive approaches to language. It includes relatively brief examinations of traditional and structural principles and methodologies, and an extended introduction to the principles and methodologies of generative/transformational grammar. The relevance of these principles and methodologies to the teaching of English grammar and to the teaching of language in general is discussed throughout the course. Specific topics and issues include:

1. The history of linguistic analysis, especially the development of structural and generative/transformational linguistics in the twentieth century.
2. Principles and methodologies of traditional (prescriptive) linguistics.
3. Principles and methodologies of structural linguistics.
4. Principles and methodologies of generative/transformational linguistics, in the following areas:

a. Morphology, including principles of morphological analysis, word-formation rules and processes, etc.
b. Phonetics, including principles of acoustical phonetics, the description and transcription of language sounds, etc.
c. Phonology, including phonemic analysis and transcription, phonological rules, problems such as pitch and stress, etc.
d. Syntax, including the principles of transformational analysis, phrase structure rules, transformation rules, etc.
e. Semantics, including lexical semantics, sentence semantics, competing approaches to semantic description and analysis, prescriptive vs. descriptive approaches to lexicography, etc.

5. Problems of language variation, including the usefulness of generative/transformational linguistics in describing and explaining dialect differences.
6. Problems of language change, including the usefulness of generative/transformational linguistics in describing and explaining linguistic evolution.
7. The applicability of modern linguistic methods to the teaching of English grammar and to the teaching of language in general.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course includes lecture, small group work, and general discussion. Since the subject is unfamiliar to most students at the beginning of the course, a substantial amount of lecture is necessary to review and explain essential concepts and methods. Since much of linguistic study consists of problem-solving (including, for example, problems assigned as homework assignments), much class time may be devoted to group problem-solving conferences as well as to general discussion.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

The goal of this course is to familiarize students with the history of linguistic analysis and with the principles and methodologies of the most important approaches to linguistics, especially the generative/transformational approach. Students completing the course should understand the important differences among the various approaches, and should be able to use the principles and methodologies of generative/transformational analysis as a means of understanding the structure and use of English.


Assessment Measures

Since much of the information presented in this course is more technical or "objective" than the material covered in a literature course, the assessment of students' progress in this course depends somewhat less on extended written assignments and more on shorter, more focused assignments. Written homework assignments, especially specific problems, give students the opportunity to apply their knowledge of linguistics to specific cases; tests and examinations consisting of short answers, problem-solving exercises, and more extended responses to larger problems give students the opportunity to demonstrate their grasp of specific concepts as well as their ability to apply those concepts on a larger scale. In order to allow graduate students to become more familiar with linguistics as a discipline--and with its relevance to other disciplines--students may also be required to complete a research-oriented term project such as a final paper or a notebook of readings on a particular subject.


Other Course Information




March 1999