ENGL 330 (3 cr): The Structure of Modern English: Sounds and Words


Course Description and Prerequisites

This course aims to introduce students to four core areas of the study of English: phonetics, phonology, morphology and lexical semantics. The overall objectives of this course are to enable students to

  • describe the articulation of sounds in English and transcribe the sounds of English
  • recognize phonological processes and rules governing pronunciation
  • analyze the meaningful units in English and recognize a variety of processes of word formation
  • apply syntactic and inflectional tests in order to classify English words into grammatical categories
  • analyze meaning using a variety of approaches including traditional, structural, and cognitive semantics as well as features analysis

In English 330, emphasis is placed upon the description of English rather than on any particular theory of linguistics. The overall expected outcome is to enhance formal reasoning and critical thinking skills, including the ability to analyze sound, word, and semantic patterns in English.

Intended Audience

English 330 is designed for Majors in English Language and Literature. It is also intended to equip students for further studies in language or literature in English or another language and helps prepare students for a wide range of careers in which a sophisticated understanding of language use is important. These could range from teachers of both native and non-native speakers at all levels to lawyers, speech language pathologists and audiologists, librarians and archivists. The course will be of interest to students who wish to learn methods of analyzing and classifying elements in the phonological, morphological, and semantic components of English.

Students do not need a background in linguistics, but are expected to learn the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and methods of linguistic analysis as well as acquire technical vocabulary and develop knowledge and skill to work with authentic examples and problems. All necessary terms and concepts are taught in the course.

Course Overview

The course is divided into six units, which are divided into short lessons. Lesson 1 briefly examines the discipline of linguistics and the nature of human language and grammar. After a consideration of the means of production of human speech sounds, Lesson 2 studies the consonant and vowel sounds of English and methods of their phonetic transcription. Lesson 3 continues discussion of the English sound system, considering sound combinations, stress, intonation, and syllable structure; it also examines phonological rules in English and the concept of the phoneme (distinctive sound of a language). Lesson 4 explores the internal structure of words, the concept of the morpheme (meaningful unit of a language), and the varied processes of word formation in English. Lesson 5 begins by defining the grammatical categories and looking at the grammatical modification of English words and ends with a study of the means of word classification in the language. Lesson 6 surveys a number of traditional and structural approaches to word meaning and includes a discussion of figurative language.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of English 330, students will have acquired the following:

  • a knowledge of the sound system of contemporary English
  • an understanding of the formation of English words and of their grammatical modification
  • a recognition of complexities in the expression of meaning, on both the word and sentence level

Course Assessment and Requirements

The course grade will be determined as follows:

Quizzes (5) 30%
Unit Assignments (3) 30%
Final Examination 40%
Total 100%

Course Materials

Online Component

The online course includes

  • instructions for the coursework, discussions, self-testing exercises, assessments and assignments
  • all lessons
  • activities required for completing the course
  • links to other resources
  • supplementary readings


L. Brinton and D. Brinton. (2010) The Linguistic Structure of Modern English. (2nd ed) Amsterdam / Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Co. Chapters 1-6.

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