ENG367Y – Take-home test



See page 473 of the current Arts & Science Calendar.

Submit to:          The Wetmore Hall Porter at New College, who will date-stamp it.

Collecting:          You will be emailed when the tests have been marked, and will be able to pick

them up from the porter’s lodge during the examination period.



1.       Put only your student number on each page of the examination.

2.       The test must be entirely your own work: do not collaborate with anybody else.

It is an academic offence "to represent as one's own an idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic ... work" (Faculty of Arts and Science Calendar).

3.       You may use whatever resources you like (e.g. Crystal, OED, other resources like the Oxford Companion to the English Language, Millward); cite all of them in the text (use parenthetical references: e.g. “arse”, OED; Crystal, p. 93; “H”, OCEL) and in a bibliography.

4.       Please note: you must explain everything in your own words. No credit will be given for “dumps” from the OED, for instance.


All three questions are of equal weight.


Question 1 (Early/Modern English lexicon and semantics):


Choose two of the four extracts attached to this test: C18th cooking (1-2), PDE holistic dentistry (3), PDE bear hunting tourism (and older version with “honey/grease burn tactics”)(4-5), PDE postcolonial language studies (6-8).

First, identify the words in your extract that are drawn from their occupational variety of English. Second, can you describe any patterns or trends in the source of your variety’s lexicon? You might consider semantics (and perhaps spelling) as well as vocabulary: your answer should use appropriate terms and concepts (e.g. from Crystal chapter 9 and 10: “affixation”, “conversion”, &c.)  Finally, can you interpret any of those patterns? (Keep the “insecticide” project from first term in mind.)



Question 2 (Middle English texts from Crystal)


          Chapter 4 of Crystal (“Middle English”) contains a number of short extracts from Middle English texts, conveniently translated for you. Choose four of the texts listed below.

For each text, identify and exemplify about 5 of the most significant (representative, important) features under each of 3 headings: (1) spelling and/or pronunciation, (2) grammar, (3) vocabulary.  You may use point form. Organize your points coherently, and describe them clearly and accurately and concisely, using appropriate terms and symbols. Make sure that you have indicated why your point is important: does it illustrate change since OE? continuity? regional variation?


Early ME texts (do both: no choice):

          Page 33: extract from the Peterborough Chronicle.

          Page 36: extract from The Owl and the Nightingale.


Later ME texts (choose 2):

          Page 35: extract from John of Trevisa’s Polychronicon.

          Page 35: extract from Margaret Paston’s letter.

          Page 37: extract from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Question 3 (explaining PDE from a historical perspective)


Using what you have learned this term and any resources that you care to use (the OED, Crystal, Millward, the Oxford Companion to the English Language, etc.),


(a)  explain (accurately, thoroughly, coherently, but as concisely as you can) how the examples below exemplify general trends in the history of English (as relevant: spelling, pronunciation, morphology, and/or meaning), and


(b)  if possible, demonstrate your understanding of the concept by providing another example that illustrates the same trend(s).


Some of the pairs of words below are related to each other but differ in form, meaning, etc.:  your answer will account for those differences. For example, the pair horse and hoss illustrate “/r/-dropping before /s/” (Millward 252): you should briefly explain this phenomenon and its significance (first stage of the /r/-dropping that distinguishes certain regional varieties of English!), and produce the examples arse and ass.

NB: I am not expecting more than about 2 sentences per “phenomenon”. If you understand the concept and can use appropriate terminology, you’ll be able to explain and exemplify it concisely.

NB: Some pairs of words involve more than one phenomenon. Therefore, not all questions are of equal value.


(i)                 kin and genus

(ii)               foul and filth

(iii)              the prefix for- in forsake

(iv)             comb and unkempt

(v)              disk and dish

(vi)             the spellings of PDE tough and knight

(vii)           plough and plow

(viii)          pea (sg.), peas (pl.)

(ix)             bath and bathe

(x)               treachery and trickery

(xi)             variant pronunciations of the word herb

(xii)            purvey and provide

(xiii)          sign and signature

(xiv)         curly and cruller

(xv)           parson and person.

(xvi)         explain and explanate

(xvii)        the variation between drunken and drunk, e.g. “the drunken sailor had drunk too much”.

(xviii)      gentile and genteel

(xix)          tele- in telephone and telemarketer

(xx)           sit-in (noun), ripoff (noun)