325: The Grammar of English (3:3:0)
Prerequisite: ELang 223
MWF 8:00-8:50 (Sec 003)
In this particular section of ELang 325, we will focus on data-oriented and functionally-motivated descriptions of English grammar.
"Data-oriented" means that our discussions will be based on data from actual corpora (collections of texts and conversations) from English, as exemplified in the course textbook. In particular, we will focus on data from the 425 million word Corpus of Contemporary American English (as well as some other corpora from http://corpus.byu.edu/), and you will write a short (3-4 page) paper based on the corpus data for a particular grammatical phenomenon.
We won't be overly-concerned with prescriptive grammar ("what should be": who/whom, can/may, etc), except occasionally as a point of departure. Following the focus of the course textbook, we will also focus on differences between spoken and written English, and even registers (styles of speech) within each of these two major groupings.
"Functionally-motivated" means that -- whenever possible -- we will look for functional explanations for grammatical phenomena. The purpose of language is to communicate information effectively, and grammatical phenomena often respond to that need. We will use more formal accounts (e.g. simple versions of generative grammar) only very occasionally, and only as a starting point for more functionally-oriented discussions.