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English 370, Spring 2009

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!!

OK. I've put up keys to the three final sentences from April 30's exercises. To see diagrams of those key sentences, click here.

Thursday, May 14


Tuesday, May 12:

Reading: Chapter 8, 260-284. Before you read the rest of the chapter, first read Exercise 8.3 and list (just list!) five concepts you would need to understand in order to do the tasks outlined there.

Writing: Having read through Exercise 8.3, write an answer for ONE (and only one!) of the six options.

Midterm Review Sentences. For each of the following sentences, give a Basic Structure diagram of its constituent structures, a list of whatever rules must be applied to yield its revised structure, and then a Revised Structure diagram reflecting the changes you have listed.

1. She is the one who broke my heart when she dumped me.

2a. The clever argument she made persuaded me that she was brilliant.

2b. I was persuaded that she was brilliant by the clever argument she made.

[Hint: the difference between 2a) and 2b) is NOT in the Basic Structure. It is only in the set of T-rules applied to that BS.] [You don't have to redo the BS here, just write out the T-rules for 2b and create a Revised Structure Diagram.]

3. For you to leave the restaurant when I insulted you meant that I paid the bill.

And for those of you who would like a special test:

4x. J.L. Austin was a great philosopher at Oxford University who wrote a book that included a pun in its title. [Note: The title of that book was Sense and Sensibilia.]

Thursday, May 7

The original schedule has you taking the Mid Term on Tuesday, May 12. That is now Offically postponed to Thursday, May 14.

Reading: Chapter 8. We won't really be getting to this much until Tuesday, but I'd like you to get started on it now, especially pp 251-260.

Writing: As a thinking task to help focus your reading, write a short paragraph in which you solve the following problem:

You find yourself on a post-graduation trip to Las Vegas. You over-indulge just a bit, lose track of things just a bit, and find yourself standing a little unsteadily before a minister in the I'll-Marry-You-in-a-Minute Church. You hear a voice say, "Do you take this person as your lawful wedded spouse?" A jolt of terror runs through your body. You want to be agreeable--you hope the person you are with, on another day and in another place, might in fact be the One. But you also think you know that you don't want to be doing this here or now.

So you try to remember your reading about speech act theory in Chapter 8 way back in English 370. You remember that one way to answer this question will lead to a lot of trouble, while another might allow you to walk out the door, at least temporarily free from marital bliss. You know you are supposed to say the famous phrase: "I do." What can you say instead that will give your lawyer a leg to stand on while still more or less playing along?

Exercise: For each of the following sentences, give a Basic Structure diagram of its constituent structures, a list of whatever rules must be applied to yield its revised structure, and then a Revised Structure diagram reflecting the changes you have listed.

1. The man who broke the pot left the store.
2. The cat that he saw played guitar.
3. The man I met ran for the train.

And for those of you who want a little extra challenge, see if you can do this one:

*4. Bill's losing at the cardtable meant that he needed to collect the money that was owed him.

Tuesday, May 5

Reading: From the Semantics chapter. Not all of this is equally useful; here are the sections I would like you to focus your attention on: pp. 214 to the top 0f 220; 224-6; 233-4 (on metaphor); 240-47.

Writing/Exercise: Here is a poem:

The Sick Rose

(William Blake, 1794)

O Rose, thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

The question of how words come to mean in poetry has obviously fascinated people. And since this is an English class, that is the tack I want to take to talk about semantics. We'll focus on "metaphor." Our book doesn't spend a lot of time with metaphor--just a page or so. But most of you will have learned at some point that a metaphor is a comparison between two things. More specifically you might say a metaphor is an assertion of similarity between two apparently dissimilar things. Thus if a lover were to declare: "My love is like a rose!" he or she would be taking two things that are not very much alike in fact, a person and a flower, and asserting similarity between them. This is pretty simple to describe, and that particular metaphor is overused enough that you might figure there isn't much to say about it. But there are lots of ways his love is NOT like a rose. S/he doesn't, I imagine, get mildew, nor do her/his "leaves" fall off from black spot. I hope s/he doesn't have thorns--anyone who prunes one sure knows that roses do!

1. In any case, the first thing I'd like you to do here is pick three words in Blake's poem that you think are being used metaphorically, and explain as best you can how each is used.

Don't worry about writing a great analysis--focus on the words and how you see them meaning. We'll spend time in class particularly with the concept of lexical features (pp. 224-6) as well as 233-4.

2. And the second thing I'd like you to do is to think about the word "cat." Write a definition for "cat," and then define as many meanings as you can by making up sentences that use the word, either by itself or in some sort of metaphorical combination. "I own a cat," is pretty easy; others get more complicated, like "My ambition is to be a cat-burglar."

See if you can get at least three reflecting three different meanings for the word "cat."

Thursday, April 30

Reading: NONE!!!!

Writing: For each of the following sentences, give a Basic Structure diagram of its constituent structures, a list of whatever rules must be applied to yield its revised structure, and then a Revised Structure diagram reflecting the changes you have listed.

1. For him to run away was a great disappointment to me.

2. Your having done the exercises will bring joy to your teacher.

3. His flying airplanes scared me because I thought that they might crash.

4. That my IPhone was stolen by a pickpocket led to my being very angry.

5. I am depressed by the Mariners’ losing on the road.

Tuesday, April 28

Reading: Chapter 6, pp. 187-207 (This is the textbook's version of the transformational dimension of what we are doing for this week. It doesn't correspond exactly to what we are doing, but it's actually pretty close. In all things, however, the Newe Mini-Grammar I handed out yesterday is THE authority. I'll be handing out a final, lightly revised version of the Mini-Grammar on Tuesday, April 28. Meanwhile, I've uploaded a version to the Blackboard)

Writing: On Tuesday we introduced copulative verbs and embedded structures. Speaking of which, for each of the following sentences, give a phrase structure diagram of its constituent structures.

1. Sally announced that the train was late.
2. The students were very happy with their lattes.
3. That Bill smokes cigarettes reduces his lung capacity.
4. The elephants played in the sun, and the giraffes stood on their toes.
5. That the antelope played in the sun indicated that the lions were in their lairs.

Tuesday, April 21

NO READING. Today is Midterm 1. We'll begin with 30 minutes of review and questions--then it's on to showing what you can do with phonetics, phonology, and morphology and basic phrase structure rules. The review will be based on these sentences:
The black cat arched its back defensively.
A well-stocked mini-bar held sandwiches for the hungry.
The recession-driven market neared an all-time low.

Thursday, April 16

Reading: Chapter 6, pp. 171-187--Beginning Syntax: phrase structure rules.

The schedule I handed out on day 1 had us reading Chapter 5 for the 16th, and you can still do that if you'd like. Chapter 5 is a full and up-to-date treatment of many of the concepts of traditional grammar--including parts of speech and how verbs are conjugated.

But we'll touch on much of what matters most in 5 when treating chapter 6, anyway, so in the interest of not overwhelming you, we'll integrate key elements of 5 into our work with 6.

The first part of the chapter explains what are called "phrase structure" rules--a way of defining the basic grammatical building blocks of English. Technically this part of language study is called "syntax"--which is Greek for "to arrange together"--which is what we do when we combine words into phrases and sentences.

Writing: Exercises 6.1 and 6.2.

Tuesday, April 14

Reading: Chapter 4 on Morphology. This is a chapter that does its best to apply the ways we've thought about sounds to ways we can think about words. Sounds in English are very much rule-governed. And phonology is the science of what sounds a language has in its system and what the rules for combining those sounds are. Words, too, are elements of English, and they, too, can (at least sometimes) be combined or modified--just like sounds. Unsurprisingly, then, linguists have wanted to explore the systematicity of our English word system, and the resulting efforts to formulate rules for the formation and combination of words then follows.

That's all good, but words are not as neat as sounds when it comes to making up rules about them. Some things are very clear--and easily described. Some are very unclear, and all but indescribable. So this chapter will seem a little frustrating at times.

Writing: So, instead of doing the exercises here, I want you to imagine yourself a teacher who wants to introduce high school seniors to the morphology of English, but knows that they are likely to get lost if you give them too much at one time.

So your job? Read the chapter, and then decide what three things in it would be the most useful things for a student new to the systematic study of language. Then write a paragraph explaining briefly each of the topics you select, and then explain why you think each of your three topics is worth putting on this short list of Things You Really Need to Know.

Thursday, April 9

Reading: Phonology: Phonemics. Underlying representations of sound. Chap 3, pp 82-95.

Writing: Do exercises 3.3.3, 3.4 and 3.5

Tuesday, April 7

Reading: Phonology: Phonetics. The sounds of English. Chap 3, pp 67-82.

Writing: Do exercises 3.1 and 3.2 (at back of chapter)

Thursday, April 2

Reading: Language basics. Chap 1, pp1-20; Chap 2, 35-48.

Writing: I didn't assign any. Call it the quiet before the storm....