The module looks at the development of the English language, and examines its relationship with other, potentially rival, languages that have been spoken in the British Isles. It examines the effect of successive waves of conquest on the sociolinguistic situation which led to a situation of of diglossia or even triglossia, with English one of a number of varieties used in a set of socially determined domains. Using Haugen’s standardization model, we examine the factors which led first to selection and later acceptance of English as the dominant variety, and consider the associated linguistic processes of codification and elaboration of function. Working with short texts from different time periods, the module then introduces how and why grammatical changes occurred in Anglo-Saxon, Old and Middle English (e.g. loss of case marking, gender, weakening of the verbal paradigm) and their consequences for the modern language. We will also consider phonological changes (e.g. the Great English Vowel Shift) and their consequences for dialect differentiation. Throughout the module we make parallels with contemporary English by exploring ongoing change, including dialect loss and dialect levelling.
Aims and Objectives
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Have an understanding of the internal history of British English, showing how dialectal divisions emerged.
- Understand methodology for academic practice applied to the study of language and society.
- Have knowledge of the external sociolinguistic history of British English, including the social factors which led to its dominance in the British Isles.
- Have a good understanding of sociolinguistic phenomena which play a crucial role in the processes of linguistic variation and change;
- Understand a case study of linguistic standardization.
- Have gained essential skills in analysing linguistic data, including sociolinguistic
Knowledge and Understanding
Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:
- Have gained essential knowledge and skills to evaluate primary sources in linguistics.
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
Teaching methods include
- Interactive Lectures;
- Seminar group presentations;
- Group discussion in seminars.
Learning activities include
- Organisation of material and own ideas for oral presentation;
- Developing own interpretation of theoretical texts and concepts;
- Debating ideas in class
- Independent study.
Innovative or special features of this module: you will be asked to join a topic group to discuss and present individual research and you will need to provide a group introduction to the topic under discussion. Guidance will be provided by the teachers.
The lectures will serve to introduce, analyse and investigate key aspects of language change with respect to English. The weekly seminar will be mostly student-led and will offer an opportunity to discuss key themes through discussion of various activities prepared individually and in groups.
Collaborative research on chosen topics to lead to production of a study-notes style document which will be peer-reviewed and tutor-reviewed (using the discussion board on Blackboard). See further details below.
|Preparation for scheduled sessions||70|
|Completion of assessment task||26|
|Wider reading or practice||10|
|Total study time||150|
Resources & Reading list
Beal, J. C. (2010). An introduction to regional Englishes: dialect variation in England. Edinburgh University Press.
Aitchison, J. (2013). Language change: progress or decay?. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jeffries, L. (2006). Discovering Language. The Structure of Modern English. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
McMahon, A (1994). Understanding Language Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hughes, A., Trudgill, P., & Watt, D. (2013). English accents and dialects: an introduction to social and regional varieties of English in the British Isles. Routledge.
Smith, J. (2007). Sound Change and the History of English. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Burnley, D (1992). The History of the English Language: A Source Book. London: Longman.
Fennell, B. A (2008). A History of English: a Sociolinguistic Approach. Oxford: Blackwell.
Culpeper, J. (2005). History of English. London: Routledge.
M Bragg (2003). The Adventure of English. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Horobin, S. (2010). Studying the History of Early English. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Milroy, J. and Milroy, L. (1993). Real English: The Grammar of English Dialects in the British Isles. London: Longman.
This is how we’ll formally assess what you have learned in this module.
This is how we’ll assess you if you don’t meet the criteria to pass this module.
Repeat type: Internal & External