English 336: Linguistics
Guidelines for Linguistics Projects
Dr. Tina L. Hanlon
Home page for Linguistics
NOTE for 2013: If you would like to prepare a poster or table display on your topic for the Intercultural Festival (Apr. 10), let Dr. Hanlon know as soon as possible. Your topic should relate to language across cultures. See the Reporting section below, for details on how this will affect other requirements. The lists below contain general ideas for project topics but consider focusing on something we won't have time to cover in class in the last four chapters of the textbook--i.e., topics related to history of the language, dialects or global English, history of writing, other sociolinguistic topics.
Group projects (2 or 3 people) are allowed, but not required; each person must submit a proposal and report separately on his or her own work on the project.
Choose any topic that relates to linguistics or applications of language study. Just be sure your focus remains on issues relating to language, and you don't get too far away from it if your topic involves other areas of studying literature or teaching English. For example, "how to teach a short story" would not be acceptable unless you were analyzing the language or style of a story, or using the story to teach something about syntax or dialects.
The categories below include some suggestions. These are all general suggestions and you must develop your own precise focus. Many exercises in Linguistics for Everyone (especially some of the exercises not assigned to the class) suggest specific topics you might want to explore for a project. Also, since we always run short of time in the second half of the semester, you might choose your topic by skimming the chapters in Linguistics for Everyone that we have not yet covered (9-14). Find a topic in the textbook that interests you and develop a way to help the class learn about it. References at the end of each chapter and/or talking to the professor can help you expand the topic into a project. (Of course many suggestions below relate to topics in the textbook we have not covered or won't have time for.) Another idea for getting started is to browse through the links in the Resources section in ANGEL to see if anything there interests you. There are many other topics proposed at the end of each section of Language: Introductory Readings (but you weren't required to buy it this year).
[Note: If you do some interesting work on Appalachian dialects, I would be interested in publishing it in the web site AppLit.]
Other Language Differences, Old and New:
Style (limitless possibilities for methods of style analysis and samples to analyze):
Other Topics Relating to Teaching:
Usage and Discourse Analysis:
Theory, Miscellaneous Topics:
Methods and Resources:
The projects should not be just
library research reports and no one is expected to do extensive research, although
background reading may help you focus on a topic or provide crucial ideas and
information to be used in your report. Even if most of your material comes from
books or journals (secondary research), in most cases you should do some kind
of primary research or "hands-on" work yourself, or develop some examples on your own. For example, if you
are interested in stylistics, read about different methods, decide which one(s)
you want to try out or compare, and try that method on some short samples of
writing or speech. Other projects might involve use of interviews, surveys,
exercises, computers, letters of inquiry, etc. Even though the focus should
be narrow and only a short report will be required at the end, leave yourself
enough time in case you want to send for information, arrange for interviews,
If you approach any real people for information or assistanceeither teachers/scholars or others, be sure to do so with courtesy and tact. Some people are very self-conscious or defensive about their language or the teaching of English. You don't want them to get the impression you are spying on them or trying to criticize their language habits or teaching methods. Sociolinguists have spent decades refining their methods for collecting data because direct questions about language create an environment in which people cannot report accurately on their own natural usage, and there are many controversies surrounding the teaching of formal grammar and other language skills in the schools.
Creative approaches and original hypotheses are welcome, but you are not expected to create original methods or theories about your subject. Feel free to borrow the ideas or methods of experts and practitioners, and then look for your own examples or test the method on your own samples. You may find that what you learn about the difficulties and complexities of gathering valid data or teaching effectively is as important as the content of the data or teaching lesson itself. If you plan a project that does not succeed in getting the results you expected, report on what you did learn about the methodology in that particular area.
Reporting on Projects:
Let the professor know your topic by April 8 at the latest (preferably before that date). You can use the proposal outline form below if you wish. Consult me about methods or progress as often as you wish.
Submit a list of sources used for your project. Use MLA or APA documentation. This is the only required
writing that applies to all projects. Be sure any sources you use for theoretical
or historical or linguistic background are reliable ones, and that you document
all sources accurately in your bibliography. If you wish to add annotations, guidelines for annotated bibliographies
can be found at the Purdue U. OWL, http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/general/gl_annotatedbib.html.
Any pertinent format or media may be used in the oral reports (or online submissions): give an overview of the work you did on your project and/or use handouts, whiteboard, recordings, posters, videotape, computer, etc. Be sure to arrange in advance for any equipment or photocopying you may need.
If you aren't presenting a display for a public event, you should plan on giving a 5-minute report in class at a time we will schedule. The audience for your report is this class (or the campus community if you do a display for the Intercultural Festival, Apr. 10). If doing an oral report in class, feel free to bring in guests; engage the class in discussion or debate; or ask us to pretend we are a special kind of audience, such as a ninth grade class. The class will be asked to offer comments and questions after your report. If you are doing a display for a public event, you can turn in your annotated bibliography at a later date and we'll give you a minute or two in class if you have a poster you want to show off again or you want to tell the class about completion of your research.
Do not plagiarize (obviously). If you use anything in your reports that you did not write yourself, or quote from any of your sources in written material you submit, be sure to acknowledge where you got those words or ideas.
Proposal for Project in Linguistics
Name (List others in group, too,
if part of a group project):
Statement of Purpose of Project:
Scope or Parts of Project (indicate how your portion fits into whole project if working with a group):
Procedures and Methods to be Used:
Resources to be Used (may include people and written sources):
Final Form in which Project will be Presented:
(must include annotated bibliography)