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English 370, Winter, 2014

Assignments and Updates

See also: Blackboard

This is the Assignments and Updates Page. All assignments and updates to earlier assignments will be posted here, beginning with the most recent first.

This is the most up-to-date information available on this website. Please check this page frequently throughout the quarter!!


Tuesday, March 18


The Final will be held

Tuesday, March 18, at 2:30 in Denny 206

We will have a review session on Friday, March 14, at 2 in the classroom; if you can't make that you can meet with a few other students on Monday at 1:30, at my office.  We may need to go somewhere in the HUB if more than five or six show up, so be on time if that's what you choose to do. 

Writing: Two things--one to bring with you to the final and one to do on the spot.

So, to bring with you: The Linguistic Self-Profile, Part 2. (Click on link to go to the full assignment.)

To do on the spot: The Final Exam. It will have a set of passages from which you will pick one to write on. It will also have both a short Diagram/phonemic/morphemic section and a short answer section on the readings (Chapters 2 and 8 in the book and those assigned from the Blackboard) since the second midterm. The stylistics section will be worth 60 points; each of the others will be worth 20.

Wednesday, March 12

Reading: Review

Writing: Two things:

1. Your nomination of a passage to be used on the final. You've seen the sort of thing that would be appropriate: around 150 words, and with a voice that can be recognized and identified through its use of language. I'll pick 2 or 3 passages to choose from for the stylistics part of the final.

2. Your portfolio. You can read the assignment here.

Monday, March 10

Reading: LNL, Chapter 8 pp. 161-182. This extends the concepts of the first half of the chapter into the fields first of social linguistics and then of gender issues and finally style. Together these issues represent "Sociolinguistics."

Writing: Having read some of your responses to the Atwood passage, it's clear you are getting the drift. That's good.

At the same time, you are not all entirely clear on concepts and definitions--Atwood's passage, for example, has some long sentences, but all of them are "loose," not "periodic." That's part of what creates the illusion of a stream of consciousness, or of random thoughts and responses quickly spoken, in sequence as they occur. Because the sentences are long, one might think them periodic. But not so. "Loose" doesn't mean short, it means complete in sense at every potential breaking point. That is in contrast to what happens in the Declaration of Independence. There we begin with:

"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

That is a sentence that has several potential breaking points before it reaches is main verb ("requires"), and it would be incomplete at every one of them. Thus it isn't complete after "another," nor after "earth," nor after "entitle them." Instead your comprehension of its sense has to be delayed line after line until you finally find the main verb ("requires") and the clause that follows it: "that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation." Like the "period" of the pendulum of a grandfather clock, the sentence has to make a complete circuit before its meaning becomes understandable.

In Atwood's passage, by contrast, you can make sense of each sentence in parts, so that while the first sentence is quite long, it could actually be repunctuated with periods after "again," "dying," "house," or "south": "I can’t believe I’m on this road again, twisting along past the lake where the white birches are dying, the disease is spreading up from the south, and I notice they now have seaplanes for hire." Of course, the sentence keeps adding information to what is there before, but the point is that it is an "additive" style, not a "suspended" style, where you have to wait for several lines of prose before you can make sense of its main predication.

It is precisely because periodic structures delay key parts of the sentence that they connote formality, education, difficulty. Loose sentences, because you don't have to keep as much in mind as you read them usually seem easier, simpler, less formal, more "ordinary"--as, indeed, this one seems here.

All that said, however, for Monday look at the passages by Dickens and Salinger. I pick them because they form a strong stylistic contrast, and a correspondingly strong contrast in the nature of the voices they project. Again, for each follow the What, Why, So What process, beginning with some adjectives for each voice, and then looking for specific linguistic features that you believe responsible for creating this voice. But then go on to point to the features you have identified that contrast most strongly between the two styles. If you were to give three things that these passages do NOT share, what would they be?

Wednesday, March 5

Reading: LNL, Chapter 8, pp 148-160.

Writing: First, for the reading, pick your favorite "fact" from the chapter's discussion of variations in language use. Explain it, and why you find it of interest. (short paragraph).

Second, doing a version of what we did in class yesterday, prepare an analysis of the speaker in Atwood’s text—re read the parts of the speaker in the text that explain how to do this—basically it is applying what you know about syntax, words, metaphors and the like to the problem of characterizing the voice of this passage.  1-2pp

Monday, March 3

Reading: LNL, Chapter 2, pp 4-15, and The Speaker in the Text.

Writing: Two things:

First, do #1 of each of the exercises in pp. 4-15, and:

Second, having read The Speaker in the Text, write a one page Speaker analysis of one of the three passages we talked about in class. I know we talked some in class about the issues in each of the three passages. But I want you to rehearse and extend what we said (or what you heard--not usually for us human beings the same thing!). Take up to a full page to do the analysis.

Monday, February 24

Reading: none

Writing: Midterm #2.


At 3:15 in our Denny Classroom (or nearby if we need to move)

Practice sentences:

1. The brilliant professor believed that the class knew the material well.

2. My playing the piano soothed the baby's nerves.

3. That the exam was offered at 8am shocked the class.

4. I am sorry that your iphone was squashed by a truck.

Wednesday, February 19

Reading: None

Writing: Exercises with sentences

1.  The new, sparkling day brought memories to his mind. 

2.  My having lost my wallet complicated my life.

3.  For someone to answer the question correctly surprised the teacher. 

4.  The book was replaced on the shelf by a passing patron.   

NOTE: One of you has already written me to ask whether you need to do "Deep Structure" diagrams for these sentences as well as the simple diagrams we have been doing up to this point. Here is what I wrote back:

Yes, you 'll need to do the Deep structure--at least for sentence #4.  But really, you'll actually be doing it (even though you are only doing what we have been doing in class) for all of them. 

Which means:  it turns out we have been doing "deep structure" diagrams all along, but we've been doing them for sentences whose structure is simple enough that there is very little difference between the DS of the sentence and the RS (Revised Structure).  So we've just done the diagram, and indicated what needed to be added with a "that" or a "for-to" written in at the appropriate place. With these early sentences, their DS and their RS are very close to the same, except for whichever complementizer needs to be added in order to make sure your reader/hearer knows that you are using a sentence as if it were an NP.

Linguists start needing to be clearer about deep structures when we introduce things like the passive voice, or ambiguous sentences, or (something we'll talk about on Wednesday but I'll not be asking you to learn) relative clauses. 

Still, in this exercise what I want is a diagram of the Deep structure of each sentence, and then, for sentence 4, I'd like  you also to write down the three rules for creating a passive form of the DS, and show with a revised diagram what the effect of each of those three rules will be. 

If you missed class you won't know what those three rules are, but you'll find out on Wednesday! Get as far as you can with each of these sentences, but don't worry a lot if your diagram isn't exactly "right."  The point of doing exercises is to be pushed to see how much you understand as we approach the midterm, and to make sure you get me to explain whatever it is that you don't yet get. 

Monday, February 17 (No Class: President's Day Holiday)

Wednesday, February 12

Reading: Syntax: Making Sense of the Constituent Structures of English (a review of our work with Phrase Structure Rules)

Writing: Create a Tree Diagram for each of the four sentences below. (The last one will seem particularly hard--but see how far you can get with it.)

1. The speedy student finished her exercises promptly. 

2. The judge ruled that the lawsuit could go forward.

3. Gabe played baseball while his daughter did her homework.

4. The president hoped that the two countries would make peace but that possibility disappeared suddenly. 

Monday, February 10

Reading: Conceptual Metaphor (Part 2 of the Metaphor essay on the Blackboard page).

Writing: Two things:

1. Find for yourself an example of conceptual metaphor, use it in a sentence, and then go on to explain what the semantics of that use are.

2. We introduced on Wednesday the idea of Phrase Structures; we began to lay out the ways in which you can create linear diagrams of sentences by analyzing their underlying phrases.

We did this in conjunction with handing out the Mini-Grammar sheet, which is also on the Blackboard here. To help you do this, I will here give a short summary of what we did in class with sentence structures:

So, in Wednesday's class we took as an example the sentence:

The little puppies slept soundly

To create a Phrase Structure (PS) diagram of that sentence, we took the few PS rules we had introduced over that hour and looked to see how they were used in the "puppies" sentence. Here are the three key PS rules we mapped out:

S —› NP VP

NP —› (det) (ADV)* (adj)* N

VP —› V (NP) (ADV)*

Then, using those rules we applied them to our sentence, and that yielded the following PS linear diagram:

S —› (det) (adj) N V ADV

That is a way of representing that the sentence "The little puppies slept soundly" is made up of a determiner (The) followed by an adjective (little) and a noun (puppies) followed by a verb (slept) and an adverb (soundly). As such, because it properly follows the Phrase Structure rules of English, it is a properly grammatical English sentence.

We did not add, but could have, that that sentence with words in different places would have failed to be a properly grammatical sentence. Thus:

Little the slept soundly dog.

fails to be a proper English sentence because it does not follow the PS rules of English. If you diagrammed that sentence you would get:

adj det V ADV N

And that is not a structure permissible in English because it would violate the basic Phrase Structure rules we depend upon for making sense of strings of words.

So, in sum: PS rules are a way of making explicit the underlying rules that speakers of English follow in putting words together into sentences. They tell us what the permissible orders of words are in English, and, indirectly, what the impermissible orders are as well.

(This week we are looking at "linear diagrams"; next week we will look at "tree diagrams.")

Your job for Monday: Using the phrase structure rules above, do your best to create linear PS diagrams for each of the following two sentences:

1. A typhoon sank the ship.

2. The very thin man made a wonderful movie.

And for the following sentence, use PS rules to explain why it is NOT a well-formed, grammatical English sentence:

3. The man happy wore clothes beautiful.

Wednesday, February 5

Seahawk Wednesday--and regrouping for the next push: Syntax.

Monday, February 3

Reading: Metaphor, Part 1 (which includes "the Semantics of Metaphor").

Writing: Find or create three different sentences with metaphors in them. Use the terminology of linguistics to explain how each of the metaphors in your examples works.

(This may be a difficult exercise, but you don't have to make them complicated metaphors!)

Wednesday, January 29


You may bring a Study Sheet to the exam; otherwise, it is a closed book exam. The Study Sheet must be an 8.5"x11" piece of paper, with writing on one side only. No xeroxes or pasting in of information--everything must be in your own handwriting (you may use any language you wish, however). You will be asked to turn the Study Sheet in along with your exam.

You may also bring a printed dictionary should you wish to do so. (No electronic dictionaries.)

Most of you will finish the exam within an hour; you will, however, have the full two hours of the class period to work on the exam.

Monday, January 27

Reading: LNL, Review the readings for Phonology and Morphology.

Writing: Practice Midterm. This is an actual midterm I have given in the past. If you can pass this test, you will be able to pass the upcoming midterm. But I will also be sure to include some attention to how English regularly forms words--i.e., the morphological rules for new word formation in English.

Wednesday, January 22

Reading: Supplemental material on Morphology--on the Blackboard at: Morphology: Once More From the Top.

Writing: Here are three sentences. Give me a morphological analysis of each. Then, for #1, give me a phonemic and a phonetic analysis, as well.

For the morphemic analysis, be sure to label as necessary all categories listed in todays reading: stem, affix (including “prefix, infix, suffix”), free, bound, open, closed, productive, non-productive, derivational, inflectional, lexical, functional.

1. I wanted to go to the Superbowl.

2. William yelled so loudly that his vocal chords needed reconstruction.

3. Sherman gave the most animated postgame interview ever.

Wednesday, January 15

Reading: LNL, Chapter 5, pp 79-89, and 93-4 (on Word Formation).

Writing: Exercises A-G, I

Monday, January 13

Reading: LNL, Chapter 6, pp 99-112.

Writing: Exercise B, 1-11, C, 1.

Wednesday, January 8

Reading: LNL, Chapter 1 and the syllabus. Perfect Quiz on Wednesday.


Your Language Self-Profile, Step 1

You will be doing a language profile of your own language use as one of your term projects. Step 1 will be due on Wednesday of this week; Step 2 will be due at the end of the quarter. This first step is just an opening snapshot of you as a speaker of English, and as such it will be your first measure of what you already know about language study and about you yourself as a language user.

The second step at the end of the quarter will ask you to revisit this essay, but at that point with the perspective that a term's worth of study will have provided. You will have acquired an extensive set of understandings about what language is and about how and why we use it. Step Two will thus give you a chance to demonstrate not just how much more sophisticated you will have become about your own language use by the end of this quarter, but also a good deal about how much you've learned about the study of language generally.

LSP Step 1: Background

You will be working over the next 10 weeks through a series of ways of thinking about how people use the English language. Technically, we’ll survey phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics, and then we’ll go on to look at language in use— particularly the ways in which utterances can be meaningful in extra-literal ways.

Through all of this I hope it becomes very clear that being a speaker of a language is always a balancing act between what “the language speaking community” defines as appropriate sounds/words/modes of expression (the constraints on us as speakers), on one hand, and what any given individual’s own language experience and/or creativity enables him or her to bring to a given speech situation (the variation or diversity or creativity we display as speakers), on the other.

In all that you write, please believe that I’m really interested in what you actually do when you speak English. I don’t care whether the differences you find between the way you speak and others speak are huge or small, but I do want you to sort through what you do as a speaker and writer of English and locate a set of identifying characteristics of YOUR idiolect.

The Writing

This assignment asks you to write a 2-3 page description of yourself as a user of English. This will be the first step towards taking yourself as a “case study” for this project. You may not yet know a lot about linguistics, but you are nevertheless already the best authority there is on your particular idiolect. You are thus the insider here, and your job is to give me a verbal snapshot of your linguistic self as best you can.

So describe your language use now--i.e., do you always speak English? or do you speak another language in your daily life? If you are a native speaker what do you see as your strengths? or your challenges as a user of English? How would you describe your language use? What "accent" do you think you have? What are your favorite words? Why? If you are an English language learner, think about your strengths, and about what you want to do better. What problems crop up in your efforts to speak with or write to others? like classmates or professors? Can you tell a story that illustrates these issues?

Other questions you might address: What is the richest part of your vocabulary? What kind of writer are you? What is your strength? What are your challenges?

In Short: Think of yourself in your role as user of English, and describe and illustrate as best you can your own particular idiolect.

Ordinarily, a good essay in this class would be well-focused, equipped with well-selected detail/example, as complete as 3 pages allow, and written in an engaging, colloquial English. But since you only have a couple days to do this, and most of you don't yet know a lot about how linguists describe the ways we use language, the criterion is simply ECI: Engaged Critical Intelligence.

(This assignment is based on an assignment designed by Professor Colette Moore.)