LX 364/664 The Linguistics of Contemporary English

Course Description

In this course, we will explore some of the central features of modern English phonology, morphology, and syntax from the perspective of generative grammar. Throughout these investigations, we will keep the following two secondary goals in mind. First, to understand how English came to take its current form: why does English look so different from even its nearest Germanic relatives? In what ways does the structure of modern English still reflect its Germanic roots? Second, to place English in a global perspective: where do we find English spoken today? What sorts of systematic differences exist in the pronunciation and grammar of these various Englishes? A final goal of the course is to allow students to use the analytical skills acquired in other courses in order to better understand the English language.

Download the syllabus here.

Download the revised schedule for weeks 8-15 here.


There is no textbook for this course. Individual reading assignments will be distributed to students via this website. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all readings are required and should be completed by the beginning of class.

Course Evaluation

Homework assignments (5 total) 45% ; Language descriptions (2 total) 20% ; Final paper 25% ; Final presentation 5% ; Regular attendance/participation 5%


  • Here is our final presentation schedule as it currently stands:
    Tues 4/25: Wayne Y., Madeline R., Kathryn T., Conrad R.
    Thur 4/27: Joey L., Dean M., Brian Y., Hollis B., Karen M.
    Tues 5/2: William L., Ryann S., Micheal L., Eli G., Faith S.


Class Info

  • Spring 2017
  • TuTh 9:30-10:45, CAS 220

Instructor Info

  • Peter Alrenga
  • 617.353.6221
  • 621 Commonwealth Ave #110
  • OH: M 11-12:30 / Tu 2:30-4
      (and by appt)