Topics in English Linguistics - 1st semester


Upon completion of this course, students should be able to understand and discuss: i) basic issues in the periodization of the history of the English language; ii) the main steps / stages of standardization of the English language and its relation to the external history of the language and the history of the United Kingdom and the United States; iii) the main changes and change scenarios that occurred within the so-called Modern period of the history of the English language; iv) elementary and fundamental aspects of English Phonetics and Phonology; v) general aspects of the history and structure of English spelling.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

António H. F. P. A. Emiliano


Weekly - 4

Total - Available soon

Teaching language



The course has no formal requirements for enrollment. However, attendance requires 1) prior attendance of introductory courses in Linguistics including English Linguistics and 2) an excellent knowledge of spoken and written Standard European Portuguese and 3) a very good knowledge of English.


AARTS & McMAHON, Eds. (2006): The Handbook of English Linguistics, Oxford: Blackwell.
ARONOFF & REES-MILLER, Eds. (2000): The Handbook of Linguistics, Oxford: Blackwell.
BAUGH & CABLE (2012): A History of the English Language, London: Routledge, 6th ed.
CRYSTAL (2003): The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2nd ed.
FROMKIN & al. (2014): An Introduction to Language, Boston: Wadsworth, 10th ed.
KEMENADE & LOS, Eds. (2006): The Handbook of the History of English, Oxford: Blackwell.
McMAHON (2001): An Introduction to English Phonology, Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press.
MINKOVA (2013): A Historical Phonology of English, Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press.
ROACH (2009): English Phonetics and Phonology: A Practical Course, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 4th ed.
SMITH, J. (2007): Sound Change and the History of English, Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
V.V.A.A. (1992–2001): The Cambridge History of the English Language, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 6 vols.

Teaching method

• Classes: formal presentations of the syllabus’ contents, with unrestricted possibility of classroom participation.
• Bibliographical support: class summaries, support documents, slides used in class, links, full texts of articles and book chapters, discussion forum available on-line in the MOODLE platform.
• Supervision: discussion sessions, one-on-one tutorials, response to students´ queries by e-mail, e-messaging or video conferencing.
In-class teaching

Evaluation method

All following assessment elements will be graded according to a 20-point scale, per the Assessment Regulation of FCSH
-1 compulsory final written exam, with submission of 2 or 4 answers to questions chosen from a set of ca. 20: 100% of the final mark if the student submits only this assessment element
-1 optional critical review or research paper:25% (w/ grade less than15) or 30% (w/ grade greater than or equal to 15) of the final mark
-2 or 3 short optional essays (1 or 2 printed pages long) on topics / subjects covered in class: 5% (1 essay w/ grade greater than or equal to 10) or 10% (2-3 essays w/ grades greater than or equal to 10) of the final mark
- 1 short optional oral presentation (15 minutes) with compulsory submission of a detailed script/plan: 10% (w/ grade less than15) or 15% (w/ grade greater than or equal to 15) of the final mark.

Subject matter

TOPIC 1. The periodization of the history of English: problems, approaches and prospects.
TOPIC 2. The standardization of English: the process of language development; milestones in the emergence of Standard English.
TOPIC 3. From Early Modern English to Modern English: main phonological, morphological, syntactic and lexical changes.
TOPIC 4. Elements of English Phonetics and Phonology.
TOPIC 5. Remarks on the development and structure of English spelling.
Note: From this set of important topics in English Linguistics only two to four will be covered in each semester. A minimum of four and a maximum of eight sessions will be assigned to each topic (with the exceptions of Topics 3 and 4 which will require additional classes).


Programs where the course is taught: