Department of English

University of Toronto


ENG285H1F  L0101   T11-1, R11
English Language in World
Professor Carol Percy

Brief Description of Course: Calendar description: “Many-voiced modern English dominates science, business, diplomacy, and popular cultures worldwide. This introductory course surveys transnational, regional, and social varieties of Later Modern English; the linguistic and social factors that have shaped them; their characteristic structures; and their uses in speech and in writing, both literary and non-literary.”

This introductory class is not only accessible to multilingual students from all disciplines but is dependent upon the unique experiences and expertise and interests of every student in the class.

Three broad themes will guide us through the term.

In lecture-discussion on Tuesdays, and in repeatable low-stakes e-xercises, we will learn how to describe social and regional varieties of contemporary Englishes—categorization and structure. By the end of the course, you’ll be in confident command of the jargon relating to innovation and variation in vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and spelling, and for classifying languages (are ‘creoles’ really a special kind of language?). You’ll learn how to use online resources like dictionaries and corpora (structured collections of electronic texts) to answer questions you never knew you had about language variation, change, and authority. And you’ll have some concepts to talk about language teaching and language policy. Low-stakes in-class and online tasks will introduce and familiarize key concepts that you can use in your personal research.

In our Thursday discussions, we will explore how authors can exploit the effects of such linguistic features as names, insults, slang, invective, jargon, loanwords, and style-shifting across varieties and languages. You will finish this course able to integrate analysis of linguistic variation into literary analysis of some representative postcolonial texts.

All term, in student-chosen projects drawn from online media, we will identify and interpret issues arising from the presence of English in specific contexts. Through the term, in various low-stakes stages, your research will be workshopped and encouraged by me and fellow students. Past student projects have included “Bilingual Education in Australia’s Northern Territory,” “The Conflicts Relating to English Education in Eastern Cameroon,” “The English Language and Performance in the Eurovision Song Contest,” “Exporting Hollywood: American Film for Chinese Consumers.” and “The Language of IKEA.” Generous past students have given me permission to post their papers online for you to read. And I am always happy to help you devise your topics and shape your papers.

Require Reading:  The University of Toronto Bookstore will stock the course textbook(s), including Ramraj (ed.), Concert of Voices, 2nd ed. (broadview press, 2009). Other readings will be available online.

First Three Authors/Texts: In Concert of Voices: Das, “An Introduction”; Johnson, “The Cattle Thief”; Anand, “Duty.”

Method of instruction: Low-stakes tasks online and lecture-discussion in class.

Method of Evaluation: To reinforce your engagement and comprehension in course material generally: repeatable e-xercises online (5%), in-class midterm test on literary and linguistic material (30%), preliminary research report (15%), final research paper (25%), in-class and online participation, including ‘exit slips’ after class and assigned feedback on peers’ work (15%), 500-word take-home test (10%).

Site Information:

Site Tools:

Click below for directions to the University of Toronto!

University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Map of St. George Campus
Map of Mississauga Campus
Map of Scarborough Campus