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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Sharon Hargus
LING 446
Seattle Campus

English Phonology

Descriptively oriented approach to of English phonology and phenetics; dialect differences. Prerequisite: LING 450.

Class description

This course is an introduction to English phonology. Aspects of English phonetics and morphology will also be discussed as they pertain to the phonology of English. A major focus of the class is differences in the vowel systems of different varieties of English. In order to talk about vowels objectively, we will need to use the tools of speech analysis. This course therefore also provides a brief introduction to acoustic phonetics. The goal of the class is to enable students to understand variation in English, and to be able to distinguish real differences between systems of English vs. notational/transcriptional differences.

We begin with the segmental (consonant and vowel) phonology, including tense vs. lax vowels, schwa, syllabic sonorants, aspiration, flap and velar nasal. We will discuss the vowels of RP and of at least one variety of American English in detail. Other dialects of English will be discussed, depending on the availability of speakers, sound files and/or guest lecturers. Finally, we discuss word stress: regular stress placement in verbs, adjectives and nouns; irregular stress; morphologically determined stress; phonetic correlates of stress in English.

This is not a class in the history of English, but some aspects of synchronic variation are easier to understand in their historical contexts. Some sound changes and historical events involving English will be presented throughout the course.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lecturing, discussion of readings, video clips, sound files

Recommended preparation

LING 450

Class assignments and grading

See below.

Student grades will be based on the following: quizzes about assigned readings, homework (analysis of their own vowel system), in-class midterm, and a term project describing the phonology of a non-North American variety of English. (There will not be a final exam.)


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Joyce Parvi
Date: 04/18/2008