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English 370

Winter, 2017

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!!

Monday, March 13: Final Exam, from 2:30pm to 4:30pm

Final Exam

As I have already explained, this will be an electronic final. At the beginning of the scheduled exam time I will post a link to the final from this webpage. (I will also send you an email with the link, but that may be delayed, depending upon where you are on this earth, though probably not for long.) You will then write an essay of 800 words (absolute limit of 1000) on ONE of the passages. Obviously this means that you can write the exam at home or anywhere else. You will be given two different prose passages to choose from; you will write on just one.

After you have finished your answer, please copy and paste it into an email addressed to me: PLEASE DO NOT SEND THE EXAM AS AN ATTACHMENT!!

I know that some of you cannot come to office hours after class, so in addition to office hours on Monday and Wednesday, we'll talk in class about a possible review session.

How your grade will be weighted given the shortened quarter:

Midterm 1...................................100 (no midterm 2)
Language Autobiography I..........25
Language Autobiography II.........75
Attendance and Participation.......40

Wednesday, March 8

Reading: No new reading. I'll bring some style examples to class to round off our work with stylistics.

Writing: Today your Language Study Portfolio is due; I've described it in class, and you can find a full explanation at Portfolio.

In addition, the second step of My Language Profile is due.

The goal of this assignment is almost exactly the same as it was when the quarter began: to describe yourself as a user of English and (if applicable!) other languages.

But what you will write now is quite different from what you wrote then. Step 1 of the Language Self-Profile asked you to write a 2-3 page description of yourself as a user of English.

Step two of the Language Self-Profile now asks that you write a new essay that will differ significantly from the version you submitted as the quarter began because you now know much more about how best to describe yourself.

So the prompt remains (almost) the same, but you now have been introduced:

to phonology (and therefore how to describe your own idiolect as a speaker),

to syntax (you can describe your own writing style now in ways you would not have been able to do 10 weeks ago), and

to pragmatics (what are your characteristic forms of irony/implicature?; what are (say) three registers that are special to your sense of your language identity?; in what ways does your language use align/not align with gender or social varieties of English? What are your taboo usage patterns? What is your relation to Standard forms of English? As a speaker? Writer? Reader?).

So, yes, the assignment is in one sense almost the same, but the fact is that you now can write about yourself in much more specific and linguistically-informed ways than you could as the quarter began, and that's exactly what I hope you all will do. I look forward to reading your new self-profiles.

3-4 pages, double-spaced. The best papers will be well-focused, equipped with well-selected detail/example, as complete as the assigned length allows, and written in an engaging, colloquial English.

Monday, March 6

Reading: Only the two practice passages below

Writing: Below are two stylistically contrasting passages. Read them both, and then for each:

1. Give adjectives that can characterize the voice in each passage. The Declaration of Independence, for example, is "Serious, formal, intellectual, political."

2. Point to the characteristics of the language in each passage that you see as helping to create that voice for you.

For example: In the Declaration of Independence we noticed the long and highly formal sentences, the periodic construction of the first paragraph (which has only one very long sentence), the generally Latinate diction in the first paragraph, but switching at least in the opening of the second paragraph to Anglo-Saxon diction: "we hold these truths to be self-evident...." (there is just one Latinate word there--which is it?). There are other signs of a highly intellectual style: many parallel constructions, many complex sentences.

1. The passage below is very different from the Declaration's style:

Ralph Ellison, from “Living with Music”

In those days it was either live with music or die with noise, and we chose rather desperately to live. In the process our apartment—what with its booby-trappings of audio equipment, wires, discs and tapes—came to resemble the Collyer mansion,* but that was later. First there was the neighborhood, assorted drunks and a singer.

We were living at the time in a tiny ground-floor-rear apartment in which I was also trying to write. I say “trying” advisedly. To our right, separated by a thin wall, was a small restaurant with a juke box the size of the Roxy. To our left, a night-employed swing enthusiast who took his lullaby music so loud that every morning promptly at nine Basie’s brasses started blasting my typewriter off its stand. Our living room looked out across a small backyard to a rough stone wall to an apartment building which, towering above, caught every passing thoroughfare sound and rifled it straight down to me. There were also howling cats and barking dogs, none capable of music worth living with, so we’ll pass them by.

*The Collyer Mansion was a huge New York City house in which the Collyer brothers lived, obsessively collecting things until they died. After their deaths it took weeks to empty the house of years of junk. See

2. This voice of this passage shares some characteristics with Jefferson's in the Declaration, but is in other ways quite different--and it is VERY different from Ellison's voice. The text was provided to faculty at the UW some years ago:

Anonymous, from Faculty Career Planning

The change from a period of rapid growth to a period of stability may create serious problems in faculty career planning both for the individual faculty member and for colleges and universities. Administrators must be aware of the implications for faculty and for the institutional units for which they hold responsibility. Every effort should be exerted to develop guidelines for faculty career planning which will optimize the well-being of individual faculty members in a manner consistent with the institutional well-being of the university and its several sub-units.

From the institutional point of view, the planning objective should be to maintain maximum structural flexibility to accommodate shifts of enrollments among disciplines. Although it is by no means possible to predict specific shifts with a high degree of precision, a review of past enrollment patterns suggests that shifts do occur on a more of less continuing basis.


Wednesday, March 1

Reading: We'll continue with Chapter 8, this time reading sections explaining the linguistics of dialects in English. Many students have great trouble with this section--not so much because it is complicated as that it really does bring to the surface feelings that many native speakers of English have with respect to "non-standard" or "non-prestige" dialects.

Writing: To give you some sense of this, once you have read pp. 157-173 of the text go on to the handout I will supply. It contains a policy statement from the University of Washington Tacoma's Writing Center along with news article from, a right-leaning on-line news organization. This article generated almost 5000 comments and over 10,000 tweets. The question for you to decide is why. So analyze the Writing Center statement, and think about you have been reading, and then explain what has gone wrong in the writing, reading and/or understanding of the statement and/or the report on it. Write your own report--a news report on what happened and why as if written for The Daily.

Monday, February 27

Reading: We are moving now to Dialect and to Stylistics. Here the major readings are from Chapter 8 and from the Blackboard: The Speaker in the Text: An Introduction to Stylistics.

For Chapter 8, Begin with the first part of the chapter up to and including Exercise C. Then skip for the moment over the middle of the chapter to the section on Language and Gender and from there through the end of the chapter, doing Exercise J and K.

Then click on the link to The Speaker in the Text and read the first half of the essay (ending with the beginning of the section titled: Style Checklist). After reading to that point, look at the two passages below as examples of contrasting styles. Read them through, both silently and aloud, and write a paragraph each about the speaker and the voice or character the author creates. Give three or four adjectives for each to describe the voice, and then do what you can to point to language choices you see that the author has made that you think may have created the effects you have noticed.

Don't worry about being perfect here, but do try to do a good job. This sort of exercise will be what you will be doing for the final, so you'll do well to get right into this as soon as possible!

Dickens, from David Copperfield

    Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.  To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night.  It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously. 

     In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was declared by the nurse, and by some sage women in the neighborhood, who had taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any possibility of our becoming personally acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits—both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all unlucky infants, of either gender, born towards the small hours on a Friday night.

Salinger, from The Catcher in the Rye

   If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.  In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.  They’re quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father.  They’re nice and all—I’m not saying that—but they’re also touchy as hell.  Besides, I’m not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or anything.

Wednesday, February 22

Reading: Pages 4-7 of LNL. NOTE: Grice's four principles seem pretty simple. But they in fact explain how a huge number of otherwise bizarre sentences make sense. So as you read these three pages, I want you to memorize the principles so that you can use them effectively on Exercise A on p.7 Don't be worried if it is very confusing. Your System 1 (unconscious and automatic) Thinking does this very, very well, but your System 2 (conscious) Thinking is really pretty bad at it. But this is the gateway to literary criticism. We'll talk about that on Wednesday....

Writing: 1. Do the exercise on p. 7;

2. Then provide a tree diagram for each of the following 4 sentences and answer the question that follows.

1. The young swimmer had an efficient backstroke. [Remember that "a", "an" and "the" are all determiners.]

2. My brother watched the Superbowl yesterday.

3. A very slippery eel swallowed the bait.

4. The car was stolen by an unknown person.

Which of sentences 1, 2, or 3 can be passivized? What would their passive forms be? Write them out.


Monday, February 20

NO CLASS--Presidents Day


Wednesday, February 15

Reading: Read Part 2 of Syntax: Making Sense of the Constituent Structures of English.

Writing: Do the exercise with the three sentences at the end of Part 2 (for convenience I reprint them below). We'll start with those and then go to trees.

As for your midterm corrections--we will have a Q and A session. So look to your exam and figure out what you will need to know that you don't know already to get full credit.

Here are the sentences:

1.  The speedy student finished her exercises. 

2.  The very old building collapsed. 

3.  The bricklayer knew his new neighbor. 


Monday, February 13

Reading: On Conceptual Metaphor, and Part 1 of Syntax: Making Sense of the Constituent Structures of English. (Click on the titles to connect with the readings.)

Writing: We're going to catch up from last week, and then go on to introduce more new concepts having to do with syntax: the science of how we put words together to form meaningly expressions. The first hour we will continue with metaphor. I asked you to identify three literary metaphors for last time and we talked about some that you put up on the board. There we were thinking mainly about what we can call Poetic Metaphor. This time think about three examples of "conceptual metaphor," and then look at how they work, how they are like and unlike literary metaphor.

We will return to the Hemingway story "Cat in the Rain," and what you wrote about it, and we'll connect that both to poetic metaphor and to conceptual metaphor. You have already written about "cats"--now I want you to reread the story and identify at least two other metaphorical usages of language. Write a page describing those uses and why you think Heminway uses them.

Monday, February 6 (SNOW DAY--SHIFT THIS TO Wednesday, Feb 8)

Reading: Metaphor: The Jewel of Any Language (click here) Read all of Part 1; we'll read Part 2 on Conceptual Metaphor for Wednesday, February 8. We will finish up the word etymology project today, too.

Writing: Having read the Metaphor essay, find or make up 3 different metaphors of your own. Write them out and then give as full an explanation as possible of the features the metaphor invokes and at least some of the features that it does NOT invoke. Then, read "Cat in the Rain"—a two-page short, short story by Ernest Hemingway about a couple in an Italian hotel. It is raining, and one of them spots a cat outside in the rain. Read through to see what happens, and then, 1) underline each reference to the cat (or "kitty," or any other way it is referred to), and 2) write a page about how you think the cat functions as a metaphor in the story. What features does Hemingway invite you to transfer, and what features does he NOT invite you to transfer? (Keep in mind, too, that what is relevant early on may not be exactly the same as what is relevant towards the end.)

Don't worry if you feel you are not very good at this. The point is not to be a great literary critic, but only to approach the story from the perspective of one who has begun to think about metaphor in a conscious and analytic way.

Finally, w e will also be beginning syntax today. We have looked at how sounds are structured and how words are structured and how at least some of them have developed over time; now we will look at how sentences are structured. We'll begin with "Phrase Structures" and the rules that govern them, and then go on next time to draw pictures of what we are talking about.

Wednesday, February 1: MIDTERM #1

You will have the full class time to do the midterm; I try to make the exam an hour exam for strong but not necessarily fast working students. You will, however, be able to take the whole class period--up until 3:20. Most of you will be done before that, but there are likely to be 3-5 of you still working on things at the end. That's fine. Not everyone works at the same pace. Don't worry about it.

Questions: if you come across a question you don't understand or think I may have made a mistake with, then come up to the desk, show me what is on your mind, and give me a second to figure out what to tell you. I may say: "You should know enough to do this on your own," or I may say, "Oops! Better correct that." It won't bother me, however, for you to ask.

Monday, January 30

Reading: None

Writing: The assignment here is to complete the following mock-exam. It covers phonology and morphology, and will be similar to the real exam you will take next Wednesday. You will see what sorts of things you know and still don't know, and you will need to prepare yourself to do this without your notes or your book.

Ia.  For each of the phonemic descriptions below, give me the appropriate phonemic symbol.  (30 points)

Example:  a continuant bilabial nasal stop.  Answer:  /m/

1.  voiced labiodental fricative: 
2.  high back rounded tense vowel:
3.  low front lax vowel: 
4.  unvoiced palatal affricate: 

Ib.  For each phonemic symbol below, give me the appropriate phonemic description.

Example:  /p/   Answer: unvoiced bilabial stop

            1.  /ɪ/
            2.  /Ɵ/

3.  /o/
4.  /ð/

II.  For the two sentences below provide: 

a.  a phonemic transcription (18), and:

b.  a morphemic analysis (bound, free, stem, affix, derivational, inflectional) (18),  

1.  The referees stood around the cheering defensive linemen. 


2.  Having nothing more to say, she spun on her heel and exited the store.  


III. The following phonetic transcription reflects the effects of having applied certain phonological rules to a string of English phonemes.  Your job is to supply a phonemic representation for each, and explain what phonological rules were applied to each in order to produce the phonetic sequence in each of these two transcriptions (22 points):

             [ši fa͂Ʊ͂nd’ ǝrsεlf wa͂n’ɪ͂ŋ tʰǝ liv’] 

[Note: remember that the phonemic representation shows the phrase before ANY phonological rule like nasalization, deletion, elision or destressing has taken place.  The phonetic transcription above shows the effect of such phonological rules having already been applied.] For a fuller explanation click here.


Wednesday, January 25

Reading: Webster, "Morphology: Once More from the Top." (click here ) Having read that summary of our work with morphology, go on to the exercise below.

Writing: 1. For "Pitcher" do a phonetic transcription (review the short entry Phonology on the Blackboard page [click here]) and a morphological/morphemic transcription.

2. Complete the Morphology/Etymology exercise (Below the poem)


by Robert Francis

His art is eccentricity, his aim

How not to hit the mark he seems to aim at,


His passion how to avoid the obvious,

His technique how to vary the avoidance.


The others throw to be comprehended. He

Throws to be a moment misunderstood.


Yet not too much. Not errant, arrant, wild,

But every seeming aberration willed.


Not to, yet still, still to communicate

Making the batter understand too late.


For the Word History Assignment complete a report on your assigned word. Make sure you explore your word with both the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and the American Heritage Dictionary; include in your research a search of the American Heritage Indo-European (IE) roots Supplement. Your report should include:

1. Up to 3 meanings of the word itself, its etymology, including an identification (if possible) of its IE root, and how derived from its root; 2. a list of Cognates: 3 to 5 with connections briefly explained.



Emulous. From Latin, aemulus, itself derived from the IE root *aim-

1. Eager or ambitious to equal or surpass another. 2. Characterized or prompted by a spirit of rivalry. 3. Obsolete Covetous of power or honor; envious.

The English form comes from Latin, aemulus, itself derived from the IE root *aim- whose original sense was “to imitate.” Other words derived from this root in current English include “imitate” and “image.” Most interesting is the connection to “imagine” (and thus to “imagination”). Thus “imagination” is connected with the same root sense as imaging—creating images?—and/or perhaps “trying to be like something”?

Links to key references for this assignment:


and American Heritage.

Heads Up Again: First Midterm will be February 1

Monday, January 23

Reading: Webster, Phonological Rules (on the Blackboard: click here). Read LNL pp. 79-89; 93-4 (and do exercise I).

Writing: Below are some sentences. Get yourself a dictionary, and work with the etymological information that dictionary gives you to analyze the italicized words in each sentence. Then give for each sentence a phonetic representation and a morphemic representation.

Online the best dictionaries in my view are the Oxford English Dictionary (available through the UW Library site) and the American Heritage Dictionary. Both have special dimensions; the OED is a historical dictionary so gives you definitions as they change over time as well as contemporary, and the AHD includes a terrific appendix of Proto-Indo-European roots (IE). We'll do an exercise with both for Wednesday, Jan 25.


First: analyse each italicized word in the sentences below into its basic morphemes. Identify the stem and the affixes (label them "s" and "a") and do your best to describe their basic meanings and how they function in that particular word. For Example: in sentence 1's word "morphology" there are three morphemes: <morph> "form", <logo> "word" or "speech,"and <-y>, "activity" (i.e.: the activity of creating words (or studying") about forms). And the word "tends" has two morphemes: <tend> "move towards" and <-s> "the third person singular present tense" marker.

Perform a similar analysis of the other 11 italicized words.

1. Morphology tends to require attention to etymologies.

2. Dictionaries can be extraordinarily helpful when researching how different words were formed.

3. The kittens wrestled with unrelenting effort.

Then second: give me both a phonemic and then a phonetic transcription of each of the three sentences.

Finally, a heads up: we will have the first Mid-Term, which will cover phonology and morphology, on Wednesday, February 1.

Wednesday, January 18

Reading: LNL, Read pp. 110-112 and do Exercise C and the assignment below; Then looking ahead to Morphology, read pp 79-82 and do Exercises A, B, and C.

Writing: Create a phonemic transcription of Shakespeare's Sonnet 138 (we did the first two lines in class): Then 1) read the short entry Phonology on the Blackboard page (click here), and 2) as best you can do a phonetic transcription of the first quatrain (which I have italicized). We introduced that process in class, but didn't do a lot of it yet so don't worry if you don't get it all right. Remember: phonemes are the units your brain translates what it hears into; phones are the actual sounds that we perform.

When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutored youth,
Unlearned in the world’s false subtleties.

Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false speaking tongue;
On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed.
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O, love’s best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love loves not to have years told.
  Therefore I lie with her, and she with me,
  And in our faults by lies we flattered be.

Wednesday, January 11

Reading: LNL pp. 99-110

Writing: Exercise B on pp.109-110. (We haven't really covered the vowels yet, so do the best you can with what you have read and we'll sort it all out on Wednesday.)

Monday, January 9

Reading: LNL, Read Chapter 1 and the Syllabus. Syllabus Perfect Quiz.


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 as a response paper on Wednesday of this week; Step 2 will be due as a paper 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 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 ow 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 in general.

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 pragmatics, or, 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

Step one of the Language Self-Profile 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 won't 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 are your strengths? 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 the assigned length would 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 for this first effort is simply ECI: Engaged Critical Intelligence.

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