ENG367Y1Y (L0101): The History of the English Language

(or, Histories of Englishes)

||Second term schedule || || ||Research paper #2|| ||Tutorial project: AWOL? sign up for dates||

Take-home tests: collect question from Wetmore Porter at New College

Course description

From September through April we will survey the English language and its history: its Indo-European and Germanic origins, its separate development in Britain, its dissemination around the world. This year the course is arranged in chronological order: we’ll spend October looking at ‘Old English’ (or ‘Anglo-Saxon’ – what’s the difference?!) and November looking at ‘Middle English’—the term we use to describe the varieties of English spoken after the Norman conquest of 1066. Within each unit, we’ll look at different aspects of language: vocabulary (word-formation, semantics), spelling, phonology, and grammar (word endings and word order).


In January we’ll move on to the English of Shakespeare’s time, and by April we’ll be back in twenty-first century Canada. I hope to make Canadian English a special theme this year: on September 17th, Katherine Barber of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary will be on campus talking about spellings like “colo(u)rful,” and on 28-30 January 2005, the linguistics department is holding a conference on “Canadian English in the Global Context” that I hope we will be able to crash.


This is an introductory course. It has always attracted people with very different intellectual backgrounds and interests. Most of you will be new to the formal study of language. Basic terms and concepts will be illustrated early in the year with examples from Present-Day English (PDE), and the lectures will be reinforced with homework exercises from the ‘workbook’ accompanying the course textbook.


          By the end of the year, you won’t be able to read Beowulf at sight, or even with a dictionary, but you will have a good general knowledge of the highlights of the history of English. You’ll be able to see a lot of ‘history’ in modern English (for instance, why adjectives like asleep and aloft can’t premodify their nouns in sentences like *the asleep students). And if a question comes up that you can’t infer the answer to, you’ll know where to look. I’ve designed the course and the homework exercises and the class discussions and the assignments so that you will get very familiar with some good resources for the study of Englishes, past and present.


          During the year, you’ll also have the opportunity to pursue obsessions of your own (within limits). I’ll be expecting and helping you to focus and investigate research projects at the end of each term. Past student papers, just to mention a few, have explored subjects like ... terms for sexual intercourse in Old and Middle English ...the social history of words like knight and woman... French words in English cookbooks and their social significance ... competition between native and borrowed pejorative suffixes in Middle English ... terms for epilepsy in the history of English ... tension between Latin and English in the fields of popular and professional botany ... the history of the letter C ... the professional language of bicycle couriers in Toronto ... variation between pig and pork to denote the beast on the hoof (or trotter) ...


          I hope that by the time the course has finished, you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned: in your literature courses next year, teaching EFL in the future, or just when somebody asks you at lunch in 2035 whether the lock in wedlock has sinister implications ...

To recap, this is what I hope you will get out of the course:

ENG 367Y: First term schedule (after the fact)




September 9



Tuesday 14th

Language change

Millward ch. 1, Crystal ch. 1

Thursday 16th


Millward ch. 2; MW 2.4, 2.5

Crystal ch. 17: 236-245

Friday 17th September

Hart House Library (2nd floor), 730 PM

Canadian English

A talk by Katherine Barber, the editor of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary

Tuesday 21st



Thursday 23rd


Millward ch. 4: 44-59

MW 4.4

Tuesday 28th


Millward ch. 4: 59-73

MW 4.5, 4.6 (2)

Grimm's and Verner's law

Thursday 30th

Old English:

outer history, dialects

Crystal ch. 2, ch. 3: 28-29

Millward ch. 5: 76-82, 132-3

October 5th

OE graphics

Crystal ch. 3: 8-17

Millward ch. 5: 89-93, Tutorials MW 5.5, 5.21, some 5.16 and 5.17

OE Orthographics handout

OE Aerobics: vowels

Thursday 7th

OE lexicon: wordformation

Crystal ch. 3: 22-27, 29

Millward ch. 5: 115-132

Tuesday 12th

OE phonology: principally front mutation (and without 'breaking' or 'palatal diphthongization')

Crystal ch. 3: 18-19

Millward ch. 5: 82-89

OE Aerobics: i-mutation

Thursday 14th

OE lexicon (loanwords) and semantic change

OE Aerobics: elements of the sentence

Tuesday 19th

OE morphology: pronouns and nouns

Crystal ch. 3: 20-21

Millward ch. 5: 94-101

Thursday 21st

OE morphology: nouns and adjectives


Tuesday 26th

OE morphology: weak verbs

Millward ch. 5: 101-106

Thursday 28th

OE morphology: strong verbs (cont.), irregular verbs


November 2nd

OE morphology: prepositions, adverbs, conjunctions

OE syntax

Millward ch. 5: 107-115

Thursday 4th

OE syntax, continued;
OE poetic syntax

Crystal, p. 29: "Caedmon's Hymn"

Tuesday 9th

Middle English

ME outer history, lexis, semantic change: pig vs pork (cont. Thursday)

Crystal ch. 4: 30-31, 46-9, 54-55

Millward 6: 142-146, 195-211

Thursday 11th

OE assignment due


Tuesday 16th

ME morphology: noun

ME dialects (incidental)

Crystal ch. 4: 32-3, 44-5

Millward ch. 6: 162-181, 211-216

MW: we did 6.8 (1-5). In 5, we think that green is a typo for grene!

Thursday 18th

ME morphology: verb

ME dialects (incidental)

Before class, can you read over a few texts from the Millward Workbook so that the examples from them will be more meaningful?

p. 155 (text 3); p. 165 ("Adam lay bound"); text VI (171-3); text VII (173-176). In class we did 6.10 (1-3).

Tuesday 23rd

ME phonology, and reading Chaucer

Crystal ch. 4: 40-3

Millward ch. 6: 146-162. In the Millward workbook, please read over the dialect texts in 6.16.

Thursday 25th

ME graphics

MWHW: 6.4 (I, first column only), 6.16 (find examples of 'Northern' and 'Southern' features).

Tuesday 30th

ME syntax: SVO order and its implications

Millward ch. 6: 181-195

MWHW for Thursday: 6.11 (A 1,4; all of B).

December 2nd

ME syntax: the verb phrase and verb phrases


Tuesday 7th

Review: will include front mutation and OE noun classes. Email me by Monday to request other topics!

MWHW 6.16, the 'southern' text we still haven't taken up.

Thursday December 9, 0900-1100, SS 2102

First term test

What you need to know about it.

Homework exercises from the Millward workbook will be announced in class.

If you miss a class, please ask a friend rather than me for information about what you have missed. Thanks.

ENG367Y: Course Administrivia

Location:          University College, room A101

Lectures:          Tuesdays 10-12, Thursdays 10-11

Course page:          http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~cpercy/courses/eng367-2004.htm

                             The web page is updated frequently. Check it often.

“HELL”:          http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~cpercy/hell/

Netscape-friendly: http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~cpercy/hell/alt_index.html

Instructor:          Professor C E Percy

Office:           New College, Wetmore Hall 125 (near the registrar’s office)

Mail:             Hand in your work in class, or to the porter at Wetmore Hall (just south of the Athletic Centre).

Office hours:          TBA. Check the web page later in September.

Telephone:          416-978-4287

Email:            cpercy@chass.utoronto.ca

This is an old account: it gets a lot of spam and will sometimes silently swallow incoming or outgoing messages. Please put “ENG367Y” in the subject header of your message. If you don’t get a response within 2-3 days, please resend the message. Thanks.

Readings and resources

There is no course pack this year. The required course texts have been ordered to the U of T Bookstore at St George and College. They are

You must read the assigned chapters carefully in order to come to class prepared to ask questions and participate in class discussion. The class discussion will not be intelligible without a prior reading of the assigned material. As a rule, Crystal is more accessible than Millward: read it first. There will be occasional quizzes to check on your reading.

          It is essential for you to have easy and frequent access both to the internet and to online resources that are often restricted to U of T users. The Oxford English Dictionary and many other resources are linked to “HELL”: see the URLs above.

There’s also a good if slightly outdated online bibliography that you might find helpful at http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~cpercy/courses/367book.htm

Many of these books are on short-term loan (Robarts library, third floor): choose ‘short-term loan’ from the ‘catalogue options’ on the left-hand side of the web page for the online U of T library catalogue: http://webcat.library.utoronto.ca/

Classroom etiquette

Please bring the Millward workbook to every class, even if there is no homework assigned for that day. I will use texts in it to illustrate points in the lecture.

Please do not eat, walk in and out, or hold private conversations during class. You should notify me before class if you must leave class early. Thank you.

Methods of evaluation

One analysis of a short passage of Old English in first term (10%), a short project during second term, due April 7th (10%), two research papers, the first due January 6th (20%) and the second due Tuesday March 8th (20%), two term examinations, the first on Thursday December 9th, 9-11, SS2102 (15%) and the second take-home given out on Tuesday March 8th and due on March 24th (15%), participation (10%).

The participation grade will be determined by your diligent completion of the homework exercises, of occasional minor assignments related to the readings, by the best ‘n-1’ of occasional quizzes on the weekly readings, and by your intelligent, informed contributions to class discussion. If you miss a class, please contact a friend in the class rather than me to find out what you’ve missed. Thanks.


LATE WORK: All work is due at the beginning of class on the day indicated on the schedule. Work that is handed in during or after class will be assigned a late penalty of 2%, and 2% for each full day that it is late. Assignments that are more than two weeks late will not be accepted.