English 3610
Course Glossary

This glossary presents a set of terms with comments that cover basic concepts and approaches in our course. Consulting this listing should not replace reading or class discussion; however, it can provide helpful emphasis, ordering, and clarification in examination review. Mr. McGowan has attempted to create some interactivity among topics and webpages so that printing out the files may not be the optimum use of these study aids. This version is his last edition before the final examination.

AHD: American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
Descriptive dictionary used in our course for information on contemporary English in U.S. Has computer version available in Belk Library reference section. Entries include headword (spelling and syllabification), pronunciation information with non-IPA "user friendly" symbols, list of inflected form spellings, senses arranged by main meaning (not historical like OED listings), occasional quotes, short etymological note at end of entry, and occasionally special Usage Notes or historical discussions of special words. The CD-Rom basic search function covers headwords; word hunter function provides search of full article except for phonological entry. The book edition has an appendix of Indo-European roots, sections of which appear at the end of the listing for individual words on the CD-ROM; these entries for roots show English words that have developed from them and the etymons in other IE languages .
System of writing based on graphs representing individual sounds. English spelling is basically alphabetic.
Rule change in which speaker extends a rule to items not previously covered by it. Children often overgeneralize the past tense of know as "knowed" by analogy. This kind of overgeneralizing shows that "hypothesis-testing" rather than "imitation" is the principal form of language acquisition (Daniels 18). In the history of English, holp, the past tense of help, was replaced by helped by analogy. Ease of articulation or simplification is one cause of language change over time.
Term used to describe the non-universal differing ways that different languages handle representation and rules. For example, human beings do not by genetic necessity have a common term for 'dog' or a common way of forming plurality; arbitrary forms develop within separate speech communities. Spanish has a bilabial fricative sound in its phonology, but English doesn't. French and Spanish place most adjectives after a noun, but English has pre-modifier word order.
Linguists use * to signal two different meanings: (1) ungrammatical and (2) a reconstructed form unattested in writing. Thus, *runned signals that for most English speakers this form violates the rule to treat run as a strong verb in its past forms. The form *ker- 'heart' signals that Indo-European had a reconstructed root in this form.
Back channel markers
Conversational keys that signal listener's attention and participation. Some sociolinguists argue American females use more back channeling in conversation. The film She Says, He Says suggested that males can adapt their communicative styles to use more back channel markers.
Speech community defined by socioeconomic factors. Social class dialects are important varieties of a language. The "he don't" construction is part of the grammar of "lower class" speech.
Code switching
Changing from one language variety to another in discourse. Speakers shifts dialects and registers, and writers switch register and style according to contexts and purposes. Some speakers mix languages in their discourse in systematic ways; for example, Chicano English speakers use Spanish in systematic ways in their code switching.
Words with a common ancestor. Cognates allow reconstruction of Indo-European and Germanic. English father, Latin pater, and Greek pater are cognates used in reconstructing *p@ter, a common Indo-European source for these words. The consonants of the English form developed because of the Germanic First Sound Shift or Grimm's Law.


Group of words associated together as an expression in the lexicon. Our class has decided "in this particular case" is a collocation in McGowan's idiolect.
Exchange of meanings between individuals by means of some system of symbols. Our course emphasizes the interactional character of this process. Language uses structured vocal sounds for its symbols. Thomas and Tchudi (chapter 4) sometimes uses an extended meaning of language to emphasize how different kinds of media carry messages.
Communicative event
Notion that communication is not simply an arrangement of words and representation of an idea, but an interaction among participants. Dell Hymes, an important sociolinguist, proposes a SPEAKING model to analyze important aspects of speech as an interactive event. Kenneth Burke proposes a his Dramatistic Pentad (Thomas & Tchudi 108-10) to involving "an interplay of speaker, setting, audience, and purpose" as in a play (108).
Comparative linguistics
Method using forms from different languages to come to conclusions about earlier forms. Important in researching Indo-European. Also see cognate.
Speaker's knowledge of language rules and structures that allow her to interpret and generate utterances. We have competence in Modern English. Our knowledge is different from the competence of that of a speaker of another language; we have different rules.
Associated meanings of a word; individual speakers have different feelings about words. See denotation. One theory about women's speech in our culture argues for more sensitivity to connotative and implied meanings.
Situation of language use. Hymes's Setting/scene and Participants emphasize ideas about context. Meaning depends on context. Burke uses the theatrical term setting in his Pentad.
Term used to describe the accepting of a shared set of rules by a speech community. English dog 'dog' is a convention our speech community shares. Using /z/ to pluralize it is a common morphological convention we share. Human languages are largely arbitrary and conventional.
Cooperative Principle
Grice's proposition of the maxims of quality, quantity, relation, and manner as presuppositions of ordinary conversation. McGowan argued that play or breaking of these norms can be one way of looking at special uses of language.
Daniels's Nine Ideas
A list of helpful descriptive comments on language. These basic ideas are so central to our course, students need to know them and be able to provide specific examples illustrating them. (The Power Point presentation on them is available in computer labs under our course's folder on the S-drive: classdat>McGowan>Eng3610.)
Basic objective ("dictionary") meaning of word in the lexicon. Compare with connotation.
Descriptive dictionary
Dictionary produced by lexicographers to show how English is or was used, not to dictate "right" use (prescriptive grammar). The OED, AHD, Merriam-Webster's, and WWWebster's are all based on descriptive principles.
A language variety in which the use of phonology, grammar, and lexicon distinguishes the regional (e.g., Mr. McGowan's eastern New England dialect) or social identity of a speaker.
Utterances or text larger than a sentence. Our course has had strong interests in discourse analysis, looking at sequences of sentences and interchange and their relation to social interaction, dominance, and collaboration (see Thomas and Tchudi 84-86 for an example). A Power Point presentation on discourse is available under the Classdat folder for our course in campus computer labs.
Discourse routines
Pragmatic rules that establish normal act sequences of discourse. For example, utterance pairs and responses in greetings and telephone conversation. Chaika argues that such rules can force subordination, cooperation, or dominance in communicative events. A Power Point presentation on discourse is available under the Classdat folder for our course in campus computer labs.
Dramatistic Pentad
Model proposed by rhetorician Kenneth Burke to analyze discourse (Thomas & Tchudi 109). McGowan's mnemonic is /æ:sp/: agent, act, agency, scene, and purpose.
Purposefully unpleasant or objectionable language. For example, Jason's calling the North Carolina statute on official state qualities "crap."
Etymological source for a word. The American Heritage Dictionary shows the immediate etymon for words borrowed into English and then more distant etymons in the development of the word. The OED gives considerable etymological information.
Use of a more acceptable or roundabout expression to replace an offensive word or expression or linguistic taboo. Example: "passed away" for "died." Dysphemisms are purposely offensive terms used by a speaker to express rebellion or oppose social proprieties. Example: Yelling, "Shit" in the middle of class.
Use or purpose of a discourse. To distinguish this concept, Hymes uses end in his mnemonic; Burke's uses purpose in his Pentad. Halliday lists seven functions of language. A discourse or communicative event can combine more than one of these functions.
Indo-European family to which English, German, and Scandinavian languages (minus Finnish) belong and which is distinguished by internal changes, including the First Consonant Shift or Grimm's Law.
Canadian sociolinguist who emphasizes presentation of self and face saving in discourse. McGowan emphasizes presentation of self as part of language use. Male refusal to ask for directions involves maintaining a posture of power.
Smallest distinctive written unit in language system. McGowan argued that English has one grapheme <s> with a set of allographs, variations of the same abstract common graph, <SssSSs> and different script-S forms.
Great Vowel Shift
Major phonological change distinguishing Middle from Modern English; a major event in English language internal history. Long vowels changed their pronunciation, but often their spellings had already become set.
Halliday's functions
A list of terms for different purposes of language communication. Often discourse can combine a number of these function is a speech act. Daniels included these terms to show how different purposes and their relation to varieties of language. We should be able to apply these functions to different uses of language; they help distinguish ends, one of Hymes's analytic categories. McGowan's mnemonic is 3 i's, 2 r's, an h and a p: interactional, instrumental, imaginative, representational, regulatory, heuristic, and personal.
Dell Hymes
Sociolinguist who developed the SPEAKING mnemonic to help analyze communicative events. Also see Thomas & Tchudi 70-71.
Prehistoric "parent" language from which a large set of European and western Asian languages developed. Sir William Jones proposed this relationship in 1786 after observing common elements between Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek. Included in this family are the Germanic, Celtic, Italic, Hellenic, Balto-Salvic, Indo-Iranian, and other language families. Not included are three European languages (Finnish, Hungarian, and Basque), African languages, North American Native languages, and many Asian languages such as Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese. Using the comparative method to reconstruct the proto-IE lexicon, linguists have argued for south central Europe (southern Russia) as the home of the Indo-Europeans before the migrations that developed separate descendant languages; anthropologists and archeologists research this Kurgan culture. An appendix of The American Heritage Dictionary gives many of these reconstructed roots, and its CD-ROM version, a root is sometimes give after the entry of a PDE word that developed from it.
Bound morpheme with grammatical meaning. Inflections do not change the word class of the word and in English occur as suffixes. McGowan lists the following English inflections: For nouns {S1} 'plural' and {S2} 'possessive'; for verbs {S3} '3rd person singular present,' {D1} 'past tense,' {D2} 'past participle,' {-ing} 'progressive'; for adjectives {-er} 'comparative and {-est} 'superlative.' The history of English shows the reduction of inflections over time.
Internal history
Change in the structure of language over time. Example: External historical events: The Anglo-Saxons separate themselves from other West Germanic speakers by migrating to Britain. Internal historical change: Sound changes occur in the transmission of this WGmc dialect that distinguish it as Old English, e.g., /sk/ becomes the sh-sound (I don't have the IPA s with a wedge top in my font inventory for HTML pages). The Great Vowel Shift was a major event in internal history.
International Phonetic Alphabet
System of representing sounds with symbols used in our course. The OED uses the same basic system with some small difference, but often bases the pronunciation on RP or Received Pronunciation, a preferred dialect of spoken English in Great Britain. Our course page has a connection to a Canadian website with practice words and IPA symbols.
The technical language of a special field. Learning linguistic terms has been important to our course. Groups use specialized lexicon to communicate more directly or accurately, express group solidarity, and maintain status or oppositional identity..
Set of words and bound morphemes in a language. A literate speaker understands the phonological, orthographic, and semantic shape (pronunciation, spelling, meaning) of these items and also their morphological and grammatical characteristics. Modern English has a cosmopolitan vocabulary, a large lexicon including many morphemes borrowed from other languages, particularly French and Latin. One result of the cultural and political situation after the Norman Conquest (1066) was the borrowing of many French words into English. Lexical differences are common dialect characteristics.
Scientific study of language. Modern linguistics emphasizes descriptive accuracy and observation of actual utterances.
Basic form of an utterance. The illocution is the meaning or function the speaker or writer intends to express. "You must try this canapé" has a command locution including the insistent modal must, yet, at a party, the speaker expresses a polite invitation by this utterance.
Middle English
Historical stage of English spoken, written, and sung in England from 1100-1500. Major changes from OE are reduction of inflections and large borrowings in the lexicon from French and Latin.
Modern English
Historical stage of English after 1500. The lexicon continued to expand. A major phonological change from Middle English was the Great Vowel Shift. Linguists sometimes distinguish its contemporary development as Present Day English.
Old English:
Form of English spoken and written between 449 and 1100 by the Anglo-Saxon invader-settlers of Britain. The morphological system of Old English including many inflectional forms. The reduction of inflections is an internal historical event that marks the development of Middle English.
OED: Oxford English Dictionary
Comprehensive descriptive historical dictionary of English. Entries give headword (current U.K. spelling), pronunciation (usually British Received Pronunciation) in IPA symbols, form history giving variant spellings over time (numbers=teenth century [4=fourteenth century]), considerable etymological information, senses arranged chronologically, large numbers of examples of word's use over history of English. The CD-ROM version allows word (headword only), text (the entire entire), quotation (only text in quotation examples), and etymology (only text in etymological entry) of the twenty volumes of the second edition.
The writing system of a language. English orthography, which is largely alphabetic, developed from the adoption of the Latin or Roman alphabet to represent English sounds. Historical changes cause some of the "irregularities" of English orthography.
(1) Actual utterances of language in speech or writing. See competence. (2) Term for use of language with heightened sense of aesthetics or communicative competence. McGowan has a special interest in the performance of storytelling.
Smallest distinctive sound unit. Some phonemes have slightly different forms called "allophones," similar in sound, but with small differences often based on complimentary distribution (appearing in different sound environments).
Sound structure of a language: phonemes and their arrangements in words. Dialects often differ in phonology.
Rules governing the social use of language.
Social variety of language. Our course has used Joos's model of five categories that express a range in social use of language: intimate, casual, consultative, formal, frozen.
Speaker's rules about the meaning of words and utterances; also the scientific study of such rules. Important semantic themes in our course include the concepts that speakers interpret the meaning of utterances, and meaning is within persons, a situational sense dependent on the form of an utterance, the speaker's skill in generating, the hearer's interpretation, and the context of the communicative event. Thomas and Tchudi use contructivism to emphasize this interactive constructing of meaning in specific contexts.
Marked forms of casual language of a group, often temporary in duration of use, because group changes slang terms when other groups start to use them.
Speech community
Group sharing language rules. Our "3610 tribe" has become a speech community with special rules that separate us from other students, contribute to communication within our group, and establish group solidarity.
Prestige form of language preferred in public communication and formal registers. Varieties of World Englishes often have their own standard.
Turn taking
Act sequence of conversation in which speakers alternate control of main channel. Pragmatic rules provide signals and routine for turn taking. Class discussion has considered overlapping as interruption and collaboration, two different exercises of power and cooperation.
Representation of oral speech by written symbols. Phonetic transcription uses the International Phonetic Alphabet to represent the pronunciation of words. Our discourse analysis work used conventional spelling and other symbols and formats to represent conversation.
Utterance pair
Term for act sequence in which one utterance calls for a specific response. For example, greeting>greeting or question>response. Such pairs force participation and interaction on a speaker. Brooke played with McGowan's expectations about his "orders" to close the door in one of our classes.
(1) A distinctive form of a language. (2) Our course used a specialized sense of variety of World English: distinctive form of English developed in national or regional contexts and, in some case, developing its own standard. For example, American English, British English, Indian English, Nigerian English, and Jamaican English.
World English
The English language in all its varieties spoken around the world. Our course has emphasized different varieties, World Englishes. Among these Braj Kachru distinguished three "circles": Inner Circle speech communities have English as their first native language (US, U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand). Outer Circle varieties have developed from the spread of English and American colonialism (India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and others). The Expanding Circle includes non-English speaking nations where English has a special role in communication, commerce, technology, and education (Japan, China, former-U.S.S.R. nations, and others)..
Thomas and Tchudi's term for use of language that extends or pushes meanings and forms. McGowan emphasizes that this play with rules also shows a speaker's awareness of rules and how they work.

Second-half and comprehensive course glossary completed for final examination preparation: Thursday, 4 May, noon.