English(es) Past, Present and Future (LIN4107.01)

Thomas Leddy-Cecere

The intent of this course is to equip students which the knowledge and skills necessary to critically evaluate oft-encountered depictions of English as a “global” or “modern” language, and to contextualize their personal interactions with English by integrating knowledge of how it has existed at earlier points in time, the diversity of ways in which it exists presently, and the details which hint at its future evolution.  Toward this end, we will trace the development of English as a linguistic system from its earliest documented stages through a number of distinct forms it embodies today, devoting attention to the linguistic products of social forces (including urbanization, colonialism, and nationalism) and the substantial impacts of contact with non-English language systems.  Our task will also be descriptive, and will seek to center stories of linguistic innovation involving English-speaking communities of the Caribbean, Melanesia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and beyond alongside more frequently emphasized narratives of English in the British Isles and continental North America.  Finally, the class will consider the future of English from the point of view of ongoing language evolution, the formation of new linguistic varieties, and the assertion novel Anglophone identities on the part of English-language users and learners worldwide; this phase of inquiry will also include a student-led investigation of changes in English use currently in progress in the Bennington community.


Learning Outcomes:
-Identify major developments in the history of English in a manner that is both cross-linguistically situated and socio-culturally contextualized.
-Describe the structural and social diversity attested by present-day Englishes worldwide, sensitive to variability within and between communities and at the level of individual speakers.
-Articulate one’s own positionality in relation to linguistic changes in progress, new variety formation, and perceptions of English as a “global” lingua franca.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: LIN 2101, LIN 4102, or LIN 4106 (or other previous work in phonetics/phonology, with permission of the instructor)
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
W 10:00AM - 11:50AM & W 2:10PM - 4:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 16
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: All courses , Cultural Studies and Languages , Fully In-Person , Sociolinguistics
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