397G Special Topics: Syntax and Dialects of English (JYW) (3 units)

Spring 2014


TuTh 2:30 - 3:45 - Dickinson 110


Lisa Green []


Dialects of English - especially dialects of American English - have traditionally been considered from sociolinguistic angles, in which questions about the influence of social and historical factors on the speech of members of certain regional and ethnic groups are raised. However, more and more emphasis is being placed on the integration of dialects of English into core areas of linguistics, such as syntax, especially in addressing questions about the way languages and dialects vary and whether current syntactic theory can account for the variation that is exhibited in patterns in Appalachian English, African American English, Hiberno English, and standard American English, for example. This course considers topics in theoretical syntax from the perspective of syntactic properties of dialects of English spoken in the United States and abroad. We will consider syntactic phenomena such as inversion, negation, tense and agreement, and pronominal reference. Part of our work in the course will be to describe systematic variation among dialects of English, including standard English; however, we will not simply compare "non-standard" dialects to the standard varieties as a means of concluding that one is better than the other. This class fulfills the Junior Year Writing requirement.