English 102

Upper Division Coursework: Topics in the English Language: English Phonology

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2005 Hanson, Kristin
Hanson, Kristin
MWF 2-3 24 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

McMahon, A.: An Introduction to English Phonology


Phonology is the part of grammar which involves the structure of sound in language. It has three principal components: melody, the qualitative aspects of sounds which distinguish for example a [p] from an [f], or an [i] from a [u]; rhythm, the organization of sounds into syllables, stress groups, phrases, etc.; and tone and intonation, the grammatically significant structuring of pitch differences for grammatical purposes. This course will explore all three aspects of English phonology, seeking to answer basic descriptive questions of what speakers intuitively know about the organization of sound in English which distinguishes it from other languages, while also addressing theoretical questions of how sound is organized in language in general and where English fits in that universal picture. The focus will be on Present Day Standard American English, but dialectal and historical variation will also be explored. In addition to providing knowledge of this subject for its own sake, the course should be helpful preparation for exploring the phonological characteristics of literary texts, and for understanding ideas about language which have influenced twentieth-century literary theory. No previous background in linguistics is required, but exercises and assignments will span a variety of levels so as to also accommodate students who have already taken an upper-division phonology course and are particularly interested in exploring English further.

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