ENGL 329 (6 cr): The Structure of Modern English

ENGL 329

Mode of Delivery

This is a print-based, correspondence course.

Course Description and Prerequisites

Student Profile

Karla Sapp, Elementary and High School Teacher

Karla Sapp

“I learned a lot about the English language and this course really helped me for when I specialised in EAL in Education.”

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The Structure of Modern English: a description of English phonetics, phonology, grammar, and vocabulary.

In the distance education version of the course, we begin with a study of the articulation of speech sounds in English and methods of their phonetic transcription; we consider both the distinctive sounds of English and possible sound combinations in the language (phonology). We turn next to an analysis of the meaningful units in language and processes of word formation in English (morphology) as well as the classification of English words and their grammatical modification. We then consider both traditional and structural approaches to the question of word meaning (semantics). The second half of the course is taken up primarily with a detailed analysis of English sentence structure (syntax) from a generative perspective. We consider the structure of both phrases and clauses in English. We then look at the interaction of syntax and semantics in terms of thematic roles and the analysis of predicates. We end with an examination of the functions and contexts of language use (pragmatics), including information structuring and speech act theory. In English 329, emphasis is placed upon the description of English rather than on any particular theory of linguistics.

Intended Audience

This course is addressed to all students interested in contemporary English, including those whose primary area of interest is English literature, theoretical and applied linguistics, English as a second language, or secondary-school English education. The course does not assume any background in language or linguistics. Students are required to learn the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and methods of linguistic analysis, as well as the technical vocabulary of grammar and linguistics, but all necessary terms and concepts are taught in the course.

Course Overview

The course is divided into eleven lessons. Lesson 1 briefly examines the discipline of linguistics and the nature of human language and grammar. After a consideration of the means of production of human speech sounds, Lesson 2 studies the consonant and vowel sounds of English and methods of their phonetic transcription. Lesson 3 continues discussion of the English sound system, considering sound combinations, stress, intonation, and syllable structure; it also examines phonological rules in English and the concept of the phoneme (distinctive sound of a language). Lesson 4 explores the internal structure of words, the concept of the morpheme (meaningful unit of a language), and the varied processes of word formation in English. Lesson 5 begins by defining the grammatical categories and looking at the grammatical modification of English words and ends with a study of the means of word classification in the language. Lesson 6 surveys a number of traditional and structural approaches to word meaning and includes a discussion of figurative language. Lesson 7 treats the syntax of the simple sentence, looking at the internal structure of the noun, adjective, adverb, and prepositional phrase, complement structures in the verb phrase, verb types, and grammatical functions. Lesson 8 continues to treat the syntax of the simple sentence, including adverbial modifiers and verb premodifiers, and then examines the structure of passive, interrogative, negative, and imperative sentences. The syntax of the complex sentence is dealt with in Lesson 9, including that-clauses, wh-clauses (wh-questions, relative clauses, and indirect clauses), and nonfinite clauses (infinitival and participial clauses). Lesson 10 turns to the question of sentence meaning, understood in terms of thematic roles and predication analysis. Lesson 11 looks at two quite different approaches to the question of the function of language in context: information structuring and speech act theory.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of English 329, you will have acquired the following:

  1. a knowledge of the sound system of contemporary English;
  2. an understanding of the formation of English words and of their grammatical modification;
  3. a comprehension of the structure of both simple and complex sentences in English;
  4. a recognition of complexities in the expression of meaning, on both the word and sentence level; and
  5. an understanding of the effects of context and function of use upon the structure of the language.

Course Grade

The course grade will be determined as follows:

Total of 11 assignments 63%
Assignment 1 3%
Assignment 2 6%
Assignment 3 6%
Assignment 4 6%
Assignment 5 6%
Assignment 6 6%
Assignment 7 6%
Assignment 8 6%
Assignment 9 6%
Assignment 10 6%
Assignment 11 6%
Final Examination 37%
Total 100%

Course Materials

The material required for this course is a course manual and a textbook.
Please note that the textbook includes a CD-ROM with exercises. You will therefore also need access to a computer.
The audio material that supplements Lesson 2 in your course manual is now available online.

Required Materials Laurel J. Brinton, The Structure of Modern English: a Linguistic Introduction (Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2000). [includes CD-ROM with exercises]

ENGL 329 Learner Package (includes course manual)

ENGL329 Textbook Order Form

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