English 4720

English 4720: Language Variation in American English
Fall 2012: MW 4:00 – 5:50 pm in 3045 Brown

From the catalog: English 4720 is study of regional and social varieties of American English from sociolinguistic perspectives, focusing on the forces that influence different types of language variation. Examines issues of linguistic bias and offers a multi-cultural perspective on the role of language in daily life.

Course description, purpose, and objectives: In this course, we will discuss the theories and practices of language variation research, particularly as applied to American English. In doing so, we will consider approaches to the study of language variation, with attention to key figures, studies, and methodologies.

We will discuss the functions and effects of dialectal variation, and how factors such as geography, ethnicity, gender, social status, and other extralinguistic variables interact with language and contribute to variation. We will also explore how popular perceptions and attitudes contribute to the differential valuation of American English varieties and the effects of these valuations.

Students will learn key competencies associated with linguistic research and apply them to original linguistic research projects.

Students who complete the course successfully will acquire the following:

  • language description skills, including phonetic transcription.
  • working knowledge of terminology used in the discipline of linguistics.
  • understanding of the external (social) factors that affect language variation.
  • understanding of the internal (linguistic) mechanisms of variation.
  • awareness of language attitudes and how they are constructed.
  • improved research and analytical skills.

Students enrolled in English 4720 can click here to access our class blog and other web resources. Please note that access to the class blog is limited to students enrolled in the course. Others are invited to visit my web page for English 4720.


Photo: Entry for ain’t in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (by the author).

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