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LINGUIST List 17.796

Wed Mar 15 2006

Disc: History of English in European B.A.s

Editor for this issue: Ann Sawyer <sawyerlinguistlist.org>


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        1.    Stefan Dollinger, 'To h*** with HEL' (History of English) in B.A.s?


Message 1: 'To h*** with HEL' (History of English) in B.A.s?
Date: 14-Mar-2006
From: Stefan Dollinger <stefan.dollingerunivie.ac.at>
Subject: 'To h*** with HEL' (History of English) in B.A.s?


By 2010, European universities will share programme requirements that will
facilitate student mobility and exchange to a degree hitherto
unprecedented. This 'Common University Area' across Europe, a result of
the Bologna process, entails the introduction of Bachelor curricula, in
addition to the existing Master and Ph.D. programmes.

In this respect, university departments are required to devise a B.A. or
B.Sc. programme. In recent discussions at a large English department in
continental Europe (the exact location is not relevant to the argument),
opinions were being uttered to abolish the requirement to take a history of
the English language (HEL) introductory course in the new B.A. curriculum,
a requirement, which has hitherto been a core component in the M.A. and
Ph.D. programmes.

The HEL component is, just as in many other European English studies
programmes, a 21 hour contact course and the sole compulsory credit on
[socio]historical linguistics in the programme (i.e. slightly less than the
equivalent of a North-American half course). Not only does it include
details on the development of the English language, but it familiarizes
students with methods and approaches in diachronic linguistics in general.

Any decision made regarding the B.A. programmes will affect the teaching of
linguistics at foreign language departments, and this is the reason for my
call for your participation in this discussion. If you could take the time
to comment on the following three questions you would help us to gain a
better idea of what is needed across the field nowadays in relation to
historical linguistics:

1) Do you, as a linguist of whatever trade or school, think that a language
history component (e.g. the history of the Dutch language in Dutch
programmes) should be part of the B.A. language curricula? If so, why, if
not, why not?

2) What are the practices in relation to diachronic linguistics at your
home department? (Please briefly decribe your department in a sentence.)

3) What would be most beneficial for the advancement of your discipline
(whichever strand of linguistics you work in) in relation to diachronic
studies? This could range from getting rid of historical linguistics and
teaching other areas to focussing on diachronic studies. Does historical
linguistics (socio-historical, descriptive-historical, historical corpus
linguistics etc...) have any bearing to your field at all?

It would be great if you could afford to take the time to give us feedback
on why, if at all, knowledge of diachronic linguistics in general, and the
History of the xyz language in particular, would be a good investment for
B.A. programmes in modern languages and linguistics.

I'll post a summary in mid-April. Thank you very much,
Stefan Dollinger


Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics


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