The Adventure of English
Ch 13 ("My America":
Who were the Pilgrims?
Who was already here in America
when the English arrived?
Culturally, how were the
Pilgrims different from the others who had already arrived?
What (near) miracle saved the
When the colonists encountered
new flora, fauna, etc, how did they come up with words for
Did they borrow many words from
Native American languages? Why or why not?
Discuss prescriptivism /
standardization among the early settlers.
What other languages did
English borrow from in the 1600s-1700s?
What are some examples of early
semantic shifts in American English, resulting in American /
Were there big differences in
pronunciation across the different colonies? Why or why not?
In the 1700s, was the general
opinion that Americans spoke better or worse than the
What were the contributions of
What are some words that had
died out in British English, but which stayed on in American
Ch 14 ("Wild West Words": 1800s)
How was the culture of the West in
America different from that of the East? How did this affect the
development of English in the western frontier?
Why did English in the western US
accept more Native American words into the language?
Besides borrowings, how else did
settlers in the west find words for new things?
From what parts of Great Britain
did many of the settlers who went west come from? Why had they
come to America?
What are some words and phrases
that come from the gambling and drinking culture in the western
How did the Gold Rush affect the
What are some words that came into
English from the Spanish via the cowboys?
Ch 15 ("Sold Down the River":
What has the pre-English linguistic
situation of those who became slaves in the US?
What are some English words derived
from African languages?
What are pidgins and creoles?
What is Gullah? Why is it of
interest to linguists?
What type of language comes through
in the fiction of Mark Twain?
Ch 23 ("All of the World":
What are some "Americanisms" on
p282-83 that surprised you, in the sense that you thought
they were just standard English?
How/why did African-American
English affect standard American English in the 1910s-1920s?
How was American English
influenced by the following in the 1910s-1920s: Yiddish,
movies, and gangster language?