ENG6361H: Assignment #4—

Encyclopedia entry for HELL (“History of the English Language Links”) (25%)


First draft:                     due on or before Thursday August 16th

(same day as the take-home is due) (12.5%)

            Late penalty: the usual 5% per day


Final version:                due Thursday August 23rd  (12.5%)

Extension:                     I am willing to negotiate extensions on the final version.


This assignment is designed to give you experience

-finding and using research resources (books & reference books, on-line indexes, library catalogues) for the History of the English language

-doing in-depth research on a subject that interests you

-focussing your research into a specific, interesting topic

-summarizing, synthesizing, evaluating the work of others, succinctly and clearly

-producing a very basic web document (1000 words + a bibliography consisting of “selected resources”)


My ENG1001F class last year produced an “Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon Culture”. Some of the entries are very good indeed. See



  1. Choose a subject that you will be narrowing down into a topic. You will each be working on a topic that is (a) very specific, (b) different from everybody else’s topic. You are welcome to choose your own topic, but you must get my input and approval for it very soon. Some of you have already been working with me during office hours. Here is a list of possible subjects that you can narrow down further. If your topic seems “easy”, your additional challenge will be to write a sophisticated survey. The topics listed here are first-come, first-serve. Once you’ve staked a topic, your name will appear beside it.


The study of a (focused) semantic field: e.g.

OE medical (Richard)/sailing/livestock/natural history (Sheetal)/financial terminology

The development of a particular grammatical construction (choose others from CHEL’s “syntax” or “morphology” chapters)

            -the transition from grammatical to natural gender (Jesse)

            -the second-person pronoun (thou vs you) (Sara)

            -the emergence of periphrastic do

            -the grammaticalization of the progressive (I am lecturing)

            -the history of postpositional phrasal verbs (give up)

            -London English

The language of a particular author or text or group (may well need focusing!)

            -e.g., King Alfred, Mandeville, Kempe. Malory, Chaucer (Jennifer--French), Caxton

            -e.g., the Ancrene Wisse (Shannon D.)

            -e.g., dialects of south-west England (Claire) “AB language”, Lollard language

OE/ME linguistics

                                    OE study/philosophy of language (Sarah)

“Pre-dictionaries” of English (glosses, glossaries, etc.)--(Joanna)

                        “Contact issues”

The influence of Latin on OE syntax

                                    The degree of mutual intelligibility of OE and Scandinavian

                                    French as a mother tongue in England (Jacquie)

                                    The influence of French on Middle English grammar

                                    The teaching of French (Shannon M.)

Language-mixing in a specific genre (sermons and/or hymns (Lawrence); poetry)

Knowledge of Arabic in ME (Jessica)

Knowledge of Italian in ME(Amy)

                        Standards and standardization

                                    Arguments for and against the “Winchester standard” OE

                                    Arguments for and against “Chancery standard”


  1. Find secondary sources on that subject.

(a)    The relevant volume (OE, ME) of the Cambridge History of the English Language is almost always a very good place to get a sketch of the subject and a preliminary bibliography.

(b)   Use the library catalogue to find books on your subject, and use those books and bibliographies (listed on yellow course booklist) to identify more books and articles on your subject. If you are working on an OE lexical topic, Old English word studies is essential: Toronto’s Dictionary of Old English (14th floor, Robarts) has an updated copy that you should probably have a look at.

(c)    There are some very good bibliographies on line. Have a look at my HELL pages, or do a search yourself. The table of contents for Anglo-Saxon England is now online, for instance. Many articles on HEL topics can be found not only in journals, but in conference proceedings (e.g., ICHL or ICEHL) and collections of essays (e.g., Fisiak, Kastovsky).

(d)   Use the electronic journal indexes available at U of T. Linguistics & Language Behavior is particularly likely to get you the most linguistic hits. The ABELL and MLA are also worth searching.


  1. If relevant, find primary sources on your subject. It may be appropriate for you to do some research of your own. For instance, if you are investigating the language of a particular author (Mandeville’s syntax), you should probably exercise your analytical skills on a text or two. Or, you may wish to use the Toronto Dictionary of Old English’s “Latin-Old English word wheel” if you are interested in how OE translated a particular Latin word.


  1. In an essay of no more than 1000 words, write an encyclopedia article on your topic. You will have to prioritize, synthesize, summarize, and evaluate the resources that you have been using. Append to your essay a list “For further reading” of a selection of the most useful works on the subject.


  1. Format. Please use “The Heroic Ethos” (Tierney-Hynes) as a model for your entry.


(a)    Main headings CENTRED and BOLD (title, your name, “For further reading”)

(b)   CENTRED, below title and name: copyright 2001

(c)    LEFT-JUSTIFIED, BOLD: any sub-headings within the entry

(d)   Throughout: Times Roman, 12 point


  1. Please submit it to me as an HTML attachment (virus-free, please), with “6361yoursurname.htm” as the filename (“6361percy.htm”)


  1. Have fun. I am delighted to interfere at all stages of the process.





http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~cpercy/helhome.htm, esp. “oe.htm” and “me.htm”


Anglo-Saxon Culture: an online guide: