American English


The course looks at the current status of American
English, both in terms of its historical development and
of social issues regarding the spread, teaching and
standardization of the language.

We will start with an overview of linguistics, the study of
language. The overview will focus on case studies from
English and dialects of English heard and spoken in the
United States. This overview provides a basis for the
terminology and methodology we will need to discuss
English grammar, syntax and vocabulary, both written
and spoken, and how advances in linguistics disciplines
have come to affect our everyday life.

Factors that influence how a language develops and
changes will be considered, ranging from historical
events (language change as a result of conquest or
colonization) to modern times. How does immigration
affect the grammar, sounds and vocabulary of
American English? What about different versions of the
same language — American versus British English;
Parisian French versus Quebecois (or Cajun or Haitian
Creole); Iberian Spanish versus American Spanish?

We will examine interpretation and translation, literary
and commercial. For example, how do you translate
Jabberwocky or “muggle” into another language? And
did you know that the first Mad Max movie was dubbed
into American? Australian (“Strine”) slang and accent
were deemed too unintelligible for American audiences.

We will conclude with consideration of how the Internet
and modern conveniences have influenced English
and other languages. Is there more or less “borrowing”
between languages? Is there such a thing as “global
English,” a lingua franca for technical (and not so technical)
communication? Many foreign universities now offer
graduate courses (and tests) in English! When traveling
abroad and meeting someone who says they “speak
English” what should you expect? And what are the prospects
for language recognition and speech synthesis?


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