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Faculty Course Description

ENG434: Studies in Linguistics: The Politics of Language
Dr. Ellen Johnson
Associate Professor
Office: Evans 210
Office phone: 368-5638
e-mail: ejohnson@berry.edu

Course Description (3 hrs., no prerequisite)
The course will look at the way language is often used to achieve political ends, both in our own society and around the world. Language is used both as a means to exclude groups from full participation in society and government and as a means to create ethnic and national identity.

Goals
Students will become familiar with the ways language is used as political capital and they will learn about linguistic discrimination. Courses like this one prepare students to live and work in a diverse community. In addition, this course will bring together the fields of language, culture, society, and politics, so that students can see that in order to truly understand many current issues, we need to approach them from multiple directions.

Methods of Instruction: Lecture, discussion, audio-visuals, group work, homework.

Textbooks: Lippi-Green, English with an Accent; and May, Language and Minority Rights.
Optional: Nettle and Romaine, Vanishing Voices

Topics:
This course will explore the many political aspects of language. Many governments have policies about language, including which language can be used to print government documents, which language can be used in the schools, or which language a person must speak or read to be granted rights of citizenship. We will look at the official roles of languages around the world, including varieties of World English, and the question of whether English should be the official language of the United States. Beyond government policies are the unwritten policies of businesses, schools, and society, where language is used as a tool for excluding the poor, minority ethnic groups, rural people, and sometimes women from full participation. We will discuss the ethical implications of these policies and the role of education and compassion in overcoming stereotypes and intolerance.

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