The Languages of America

Jul 2015

For Linguistics Majors (yes we exist): This class might be the chillest way to get through the language contact requirement. There's weekly readings of somewhere between 20 and 60 pages, all interesting. McWhorter facilitates conversation well, but you sometimes feel it's a 50/50 split of academic discussion on sociolinguistics in America and hanging out with him. Notes to others (often American Studies people): There's a lot of underlying linguistics stuff in the readings/discussion that AmerStudies people in my section found to be new, but it was definitely nothing insurmountable. I found that the mixed crowd of linguistics and Amer studies kids brought a richness to the discussion. The final paper is easiest when you start getting sources a month before it's due. Choose a topic that fits your interests. Also, he's not kidding about getting it in on time.

May 2012

Prof. McWhorter is an outstanding teacher, but he shines more in lecture than in seminar, because in the latter he tends to take a back seat to the student discussion. Student discussion in a seminar is of course a good thing, but often this semester it was a bit chaotic because he didn't use a firm enough hand as moderator. The material was interesting--we covered native american languages as well as immigrant languages, slang and alternative forms of english, and the influence of technology on language. Interesting topics, interesting readings, and interesting discussion--and you get more out of it the more you put in (do the readings). this is an engaging, energetic, fun course that is not very demanding until the final paper.