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ENGL2104 - Language in the USA
Instructor(s)
Semester
2020-2021 Second Semester
Credits
6.00
Contact Hours per week
3
Form of Assessment
100% coursework
Time
Tuesday , 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm , CPD-G.02
Prerequisite
Passed 3 introductory courses (with at least one from both List A and List B).

This course explores the diversity of language and society in the United States, with particular attention to the language issues relevant in a pluralistic society. The course will not only familiarize students with the structures and functions of American English, but also with aspects of American society that influence Americans' attitudes towards language, including (but not limited to) English, African-American Vernacular English, and Spanish.

 

Topics

This course covers basic concepts of sociolinguistics, applied to American English, such as "standard" AmE, prestige, and variation, including regional, ethnic, and social variations. Other issues to be discussed include: the history of English and other languages in the USA, with a focus on Native American languages, like Navajo and Wampanoag, and the arrival of European and Asian languages; the politics of English; the English of politics and how Trump's impact on "presidential" language; the legal status of languages; American slang; various language communities, including the languages of Chinatowns throughout the country; mono- and multi-lingualism; and the English-Only Movement. We will examine language issues in all 50 states and the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa.

 

Objectives

This course introduces students to issues in the field of sociolinguistics, applied to the context of American society. Students will learn to read critically about language issues and how these impact society in various ways, and examine connections between language structure, attitudes, and policies in the media, law, education, and politics, among other contexts, and emphasize the complex role of language in American society.

 

Organisation

There is one three-hour session each week (Tuesdays 13:30—16:20). The first two hours will be for a lecture and the third hour will be a workshop. Attendance is required at all sessions. Make-up assignments will be required for any and all absences (no matter the reason, so no medical certificates needed). Each lecture will require 3 hours of preparatory reading; each workshop will require 2 hours preparation.

The lectures will be both historical and thematic. There will be chapters of the assigned textbook for each week, plus additional readings from time to time (allow for 5 hours reading prep each week).

 

Study Load

Activities

Number of hours

Lectures

21

Workshops

7

Workshop preparation (reading / self-study)

14

Lecture preparation (reading / self-study)

30

Research Essay (planning, reading)

40

Research Essay (writing)

20

Research Essay (revision)

5

In-class tests

3

Total:

140

 

Assessment

Assessment will be continuous and based 100% on coursework. That said, your final grade will also be affected by attendance and participation.

In-class midterm writing assignment

30%

In-class end-of-term writing assignment

20%

Research paper

50%

 

Texts

Set Text

Language in the USA: Themes for the Twenty-first Century, eds. Edward Finegan & John R. Rickford. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. This book is available with online access through HKUL.

Additional readings will be added to the syllabus by October 2020 (check Moodle), and there will doubtless be additional readings during the semester as the debate in the USA about language continues. Students are expected to keep abreast of the latest developments in the US language situation.

 

Research Essay

You should start thinking about your research essay as soon as you sign up for the course. Look through the lecture topics and the chapter titles in the set text, and choose the area of study which interests you most. Then devise a research question.

Because you will not be in the USA, I do not expect primary research, although I welcome it. For example, you might want to analyse the language related to the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement. Through the many videos of the BLM protests, and reports in newspapers, all available online, it is certainly possible to do primary research — i.e. find and analyse data from texts (audio-visual and written).

On the other hand, if you are a BA/BEd student, you might be interested in researching issues of language and education in the USA. This is more likely to be a literature review — a critical analysis of articles and/or books written on the issue.

Your outline and an initial bibliography will be due by 23rd February and I will have my remarks back to you within 2-3 days. You are expected to work on your background reading over Reading Week and submit a literature review by 13th March (end of Reading Week). If you are doing primary research, this part is expected to be a full literature review; if your whole essay is a literature review, this initial part is expected to cover at least 3 major texts that you are working on. Plan for 800-1000 words. I'll have remarks back to you within 3 or 4 days.

Your finished paper must be not more than 2000 words (not including title or bibliography). It is due 6th April, and I'll return a full formative review within one week (on or before 13th April). You can then revise your paper. Deadline 7th May.

The 50% grade for your paper will be divided thus: 10% outline; 10% literature review; 10% first draft; 20% final draft.

 

SCHEDULE

SCHEDULE (LECTURES; WORKSHOPS; ASSIGNMENTS)

(reading list will be updated in the syllabus available in Moodle)

Date

Lecture

Workshop

Language in the USA: themes for the 21st C.

Additional Reading

19JAN

1-hour introduction + 2-hour pre-European languages

Foreword; Editors' Preface; Chp 9

26JAN

The Spaniards cometh

Creoles

nil

Chp 10 + 11 (pp. 182-229)

Chp 8 (pp. 133-52)

TBA

02FEB

Development of American English

AmE

Chp 1-4 (pp. 3-75)

09FEB

Arrival of Africans + Ebonics (AAVE)

AAVE

Chp 5 (pp. 76-91) + 16 (pp. 305-18)

TBA

16FEB

NO CLASS: HKU HOLIDAY FOR CHINESE NEW YEAR

23FEB

Asian American voices

Multilingualism and other languages

Asian-Americans

Essay: outline due

Chp 13 (pp. 245-67)

Chp 7 + 8 (pp. 115-52); Chp 14 (pp. 268-86)

TBA

02MAR

Presidential and other non-std Englishes

Gender and LGBTQ

Trump, violence, etc.

Chp 15 (pp. 289-304

Chp 19-22 (pp. 361-429

TBA

09MAR

NO CLASS: READING WEEK

13MAR

Essay: Literature Review due

16MAR

NO CLASS: HKU'S 110TH BIRTHDAY

23MAR

2-HOUR IN-CLASS TEST

NIL

30MAR

English-Only Debate

5 (midterm review)

Chp 17 (pp. 319-38)

TBA

06APR

NO CLASS: HK PUBLIC HOLIDAY (day after Ching Ming)

Essay: First Draft Due

13APR

Language in Education

MOI; ESL

Chp 18 (pp. 339-60)

TBA

20APR

Revival of Native American languages:

the case of Wampanoag

Resurrecting dead languages

TBA

27APR

Review of all lectures

1-HOUR IN-CLASS TEST

07MAY

Essay: Final Draft Due

 


Instructor(s)
Semester
2020-2021 Second Semester
Credits
6.00
Contact Hours per week
3
Form of Assessment
100% coursework
Time
Tuesday , 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm , CPD-G.02
Prerequisite
Passed 3 introductory courses (with at least one from both List A and List B).