History of the English Language

Utah Valley University

Engl 3040      Spring 2012


Instructor: Dr. Rick McDonald                      Office Phone: 863-8365

Office: LA  121u   Hours: 12:00-0:50            MWF and by appointment.

ENGL 3040-001  M,W,F  11:00-11:50          Room: LA 229

Email:  mcdonari@uvu.edu   Web Pages  http://research.uvu.edu/mcdonald/





Millward, C.M.  A Biography of the English Language.  3rd ed.                                                                                                                             





This course traces the development of the English language from its beginnings.  We will note the various influences on English language change over time and the developments of different dialects up to contemporary varieties of English.  This course will examine the history, diversity, and variation in language pronunciation, syntax, and grammar of the English language. 




Short Assignments:

We will have daily/weekly short assignments that will be introduced in class and completed during the week to reinforce some of the main points of the text.  These assignments will help students learn the concepts necessary for understanding the material evaluated on tests. Late assignments will be down graded.


Pronunciation Performances:

Each student will be expected to practice pronunciation of one short Old English (6 or more lines) and one Middle English reading (twelve or more lines).  These can be performed in class or in my office as students wish. Other pronunciation assignments may arise.



There will be six different tests during the semester.  Each will cover a discrete section of the text book.  I will count your best five test scores toward the final grade.  Tests will include a wide range of question types, including: multiple choice, short answer, and short essay questions.  You will need a number two pencil for these.


Individual Research Project:

Each student will use some of the skills explored in the book and supplementary language/linguistic texts to perform a study of some aspect of language to which the student is uniquely privy.  An information sheet on the project will be distributed during the first four weeks of class.   


Class Participation/ Attendance:

Each student is expected to participate during each class.  We will be discussing the ideas from the text and asking questions and clarifying difficulties during class–all students’ participation will be needed to keep the class interesting.




The goal of this course is to familiarize you with the way that the English language works and how it has changed since its beginnings.  The hope is that this course prepares you to discuss many aspects of language use and development at an introductory level.





As long as it is submitted by April 9th, I will allow you to rewrite the individual research paper, if you would like to do so.   I also accept late work.  For late work, you will receive a ½ grade deduction for each class the paper is late. Talk to me about your paper before rewriting (NO EXCEPTIONS). 




During class your cellphones should be off and put away.  Taking calls or texting during class is unacceptable.  If you believe you need your cell phone on for some emergency it must be in silent mode and you should leave the room to answer it.  This should happen only in emergencies.  As you will be possibly taking notes you may use a laptop to do so, but while you are in class it should only be used for classwork in this course.




Short Assignments                                                         10%

Pronunciation Performances                                           10%

5 0f 6 Tests                                                                   60%

Individual Research Project                                             20%                        



                    GRADING SCALE



A                                 93+


C                                 76


A-                                90


 C-                               74


B+                               88


D+                               72


B                                 84


D                                 68


B-                                82


D-                                65


C+                               80








I think coming to class is very important. I will have a sign-in sheet every day.  Make sure you sign in each day–it is your responsibility–ask if you can’t find the sign-in sheet.  Anyone who misses more than three classes (NO EXCUSED ABSENCES), will find their grade affected.  If you want to explain your absence, do so by talking to me outside of class.  You get three absences.  Do not use them except in an emergency, and don’t have more than three emergencies.



Wednesday April 25th 11:00 to 1:00pm





Below you will find an excerpt from the UVU Student Rights and Responsibilities Code concerning Plagiarism and Cheating. Either activity can result in a Failing grade in this class.  Each student is expected to maintain academic ethics and honesty in all its forms, including but not limited to, cheating and plagiarism as defined hereafter:


            Cheating is the act of using or attempting to use or providing others with unauthorized information, materials or study aids in academic work. Cheating includes, but is not limited to passing examination answers to or taking examinations for someone else, or preparing or copying other's academic work.


            Plagiarism is the act of appropriating any other person's or group's ideas or work (written, computerized, artistic, etc.) or portions thereof and passing them off as the product of one's own work in any academic exercise or activity.





If you have any disability which may impair your ability to successfully complete this course, please contact the Accessibility Services Department.  Academic accommodations are granted for all students who have qualified, documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the Accessibility Services Department.



**************************** ATTENTION **************************


Understanding how language works and changes over time can be a confusing task.  I will provide information in class which should create a helpful context within which you can consider the history of the English language.  We will work to get a handle on the basics of language use and evolution; speak to me if you are experiencing difficulties–the earlier the better.