English 3901a: History of English (Spring 2015)Posted: January 4, 2015
This is the syllabus for English 3901: History of the English Language.
About this course
Why don’t we spell knight n – i – t – e?
Where does ‘silent e’ come from?
Why is it book and books but not sheep and sheeps?
Do we say somebody is six foot or six feet tall?
All of us have asked questions like these about the English language. This course will teach you how to find the answers. It covers the history of the English language from its pre-historic beginnings to its current position as the lingua franca of the modern world.
We begin with a brief survey of some important linguistic and methodological concepts. We then cover the major periods in the History of English paying particular attention to aspects that affect the way we now speak and write. In doing so we will cover the historical development of English sounds, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and rhetoric. We will also be looking at changes in the attitude of speakers of English towards their language’s position and importance in daily life.
The course is of general interest. It may be particularly useful for students considering further study in language art education, linguistics, medieval or classical languages and literature, or English history. No special training in linguistics, foreign languages, or grammar is required.
By the end of this course you should have an understanding of the principles of linguistic change, particularly as this applies to the English language. You should be able to recognise the major external and internal influences on the development of the English language and know how to research interesting forms and constructions using standard reference works.
Times and location
- Time: MWF, 11:00-11:50
- Location: D633
Office and Office Hours
My office is B810B (8th floor, University Hall).
My official office hours are:
- Monday: 2pm-3pm;
- Tuesday: 1:40pm-2:55pm.
- Gramley, Stephan. The History of English: An Introduction. London ; New York: Routledge, 2012.
- Essential Grammar Guide
- Handouts and web pages as assigned.
- Participation and Attendance 5% (Pass/Fail) 
- Poster presentation
- Formative Exercises 40% (Appropriate/Inappropriate/Fail) 
- Weekly Blog
- First essay
- Summative 45% (A+ through F)
- Research Essay 25%
- Final Exam 20%
- Badges 10% 
- Distinction 1.75%
- Great Distinction 2.5%
- Resubmission -2.5%
- All exercises under this category are of equal weight. I reserve the right to add or subtract participation exercises during the year.
- All exercises under this category are of equal weight. Exceptional work may be eligible for badges. Students may submit one piece of “Inappropriate” work for regrading, provided they accompany this with a letter explaining what changes have been made to the resubmission. Students who resubmit work for grading will receive a 2.5% penalty on their final grade.
- Students may earn up to five badges. All badges are “Pass/Fail” and are applied to the final grade. Badges may not be combined on any one exercise (i.e. you cannot have a “distinction” and “great distinction” badge on the same piece of work, or a “distinction” and “resubmission.” At the end of the semester, the total value of all badges will be added together.
The following policies will be followed in all my classes unless otherwise announced. You are expected to be familiar with the policies reproduced here and in the more general section on my website. These additional web pages are to be considered part of this syllabus for the purposes of this course.
The University of Lethbridge keeps track of student performance using a letter and grade point system (See section 4 of the University Calendar). Instructors assign students a letter grade at the end of each course (the University does not issue or record mid-term grades). These letter grades are converted to a numerical value (a Grade Point) for assessing overall academic performance (a Grade Point Average or GPA). The University does not record percentage-type grades and does not have a fixed scale for conversion from percentage scores to letter grades and grade points. Each instructor is responsible for determining their own methodology for determining students’ final letter grade.
In my classes, I use the following letter-grade to percentage correspondences:
Tests, Exams, and Quizzes
Essays and Reports
This course uses plagiarism detection software. Any plagiarism will be treated very seriously: you can expect to receive a grade of 0 on the assignment as well as other penalties depending on the seriousness of the offence. In most cases, the penalty for plagiarism is an F on the course.