WiSe 14/15: S-Historical Linguistics: History of English II
When reading Shakespeare, we recognize that his English is very different from the English that is spoken and written today, about 400 years later. How did these changes in language come about? What ... read more
When reading Shakespeare, we recognize that his English is very different from the English that is spoken and written today, about 400 years later. How did these changes in language come about? What does English look like if we go even further back in time? And when did English actually start to be English? These are only some of the questions that will guide us through this course. It is based on the idea that studying the history of English unveils general principles of language change. Besides tracing the history of the English language in an outline of different stages and varieties of English, the students will explore mechanisms of language change by focussing on different levels of linguistic structure (phonology, morphology and syntax, lexicon), illustrated by exemplary cases drawn from the history of English.
On our way through the history of English, we will also touch upon methodological issues of historical linguistics, such as the access to earlier language stages and the reliance on written sources. In presentations of texts, from Old English to Early Modern English, students will finally delve into historical sources themselves.
Course requirements are regular attendance, weekly readings, a group presentation and a term paper (~2000 words).