ENGL483 - American English(es)

Prerequisite: LING200, ENGL280, or HESP120; or permission of ARHU-English department.

Examines the diversity of dialects, registers, and jargons of English found in the United States, as well as their origins, structures, and functions in society.

In this course we will examine American English from linguistic, social and historical perspectives, considering its origins and the course of its development, including the input of the many other languages that have influenced it. Because American English displays an enormous amount of variation, the course will focus to a great degree on dialects and linguistic diversity. We will explore myths about dialects and consider why those myths exist, and we will examine the ways in which language varies, including pronunciation (do cot and caught rhyme for you?), grammar (when do you use double negatives?), vocabulary (do you say sub, grinder, hero, or Italian sandwich?), and discourse, interactional, and rhetorical practices. We will look at how the dialects of American English developed, how they are changing, and what predictions scholars make about what kinds of changes we might see in the future. In addition to variation by region—what most people think about when they hear the word “dialect”—we will consider the influence of class, gender identity and ethnicity, as well as individual variation based on social context. Finally, we will examine the effect on American English(es) of the status of English as a world language.   


Prerequisites: ENGL280 or LING200; or permission of ARHU-English department.