Your final project entails writing a thoughtful paper which addresses some issue or topic where there is the interaction between the language variety of an individual or group and the culture or society or context in which that language variety is employed
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Discovering Language; Winter 2014
Instructions for Proposals and Final Project Papers
Your final project entails writing a thoughtful paper which addresses some issue or topic where
there is the interaction between the language variety of an individual or group and the culture or
society or context in which that language variety is employed. Very broadly speaking, the issue
you choose should revolve around the negative (or positive) effects that may accrue from the
conscious or sub-conscious evaluations we make of ourselves and/or of others, based in large part
on the linguistic code used. Alternatively, you may choose to focus on an animal communication
system; in this event, your task will be to explain how that system is either similar to or different
from human language. This project can be broken down into four tasks:
Your first task (which is likely the most difficult) is to select a specific issue or topic to focus on.
You may choose either (i) to explore a topic from some domain not discussed in the lecture or the
assigned readings; or (ii) to extend, in some significant way, a topic from a domain that was
discussed in the lecture and the assigned readings.
Possible topics include dialectal variation in a given language based on geography or ethnicity or
sex or age; Australian, Plains Indian, or other signed language; the re-vitalization of a specific
language (e.g., Modern Hebrew, Navajo, Irish), or the death of another language, and so forth. You
may choose to focus on a language isolate such as Basque or to explore in some detail an incident
(or series of incidences) from your personal experience.
Your second task is to find reference materials appropriate for your use; such source material may
come from either the UCI Library and/or the Internet. The number of references you’ll need for
your paper will depend on both your chosen topic and on the richness of any given reference.
You’ll likely need at least two references, but you shouldn’t need more than three. You’ll lose
points for citing five or more references, as this demonstrates a lack of focus and understanding.
With these two tasks accomplished, you can prepare your proposal (your third task). Your
proposal must include a clear statement of your topic, along with a brief mention of some specifics
you will likely touch on and a list of the references you plan to use. Sample references are given on
the next page; adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style Online. Keep in mind that both the specifics
you cover and the references you use may well change when you actually write your paper.
You can use formal prose or simple outline form for your proposal, but the finished product must
fit on a single typed page. It can be either double- or single-spaced, using a normal font (e.g.,
Times New Roman) and 12-point type. It must have 1-inch margins all around.
Your proposal is worth 15% of your course grade;
it’s due in class on Monday, March 3.
Severe deductions will be taken on proposals turned in late.
Alison and I encourage you to discuss potential topics or
reference materials or technical details of your paper with us,
during regularly scheduled office hours, by email, or by appointment. Page 2 of 2
Your fourth and final task is to write a formal paper explaining the salient principles, important
concepts, or significant phenomena of your chosen topic. If you choose to extend a topic discussed
in class, you might compare and/or contrast the different approaches or results. If you choose a
topic that was not among those discussed in class, you should underscore its relevance by
explaining the role that the evaluation of language or language variety plays within it.
Your paper must be coherent, well-organized, and clearly-written, containing an introduction and
concluding remarks as well as the main body of the text. It should be at least five but no more than
seven pages long, with numbered pages, typed and double-spaced, normal font and type size (e.g.,
12-point Times New Roman), with 1-inch margins all around. You must give attribution as
required throughout and provide a complete bibliography at the end, including URLs if used
(samples are given below). We will neither read nor grade any papers that are longer than
You must also include two un-numbered pages with your paper: (i) Begin with a cover sheet,
which contains your name and ID number, the name of the class, the date, and the title of your
paper. (ii) End with the graded proposal to your paper. Neither your cover sheet nor your graded
proposal will count toward the number of pages in your paper. Both must be firmly stapled to the
balance of your paper, making the total number of pages you turn in no more than nine.
You may certainly include occasional (attributed) quotations from your source material, but do not
rely heavily on verbatim copying of large chunks of text. You will not be graded on how fluently
you express yourself in written English. You will be graded on how sufficiently you demonstrate
an understanding of the material you choose to cover, so it is imperative that you express yourself
using your own words. Review UCI’s definition of and policy covering plagiarism, covered in the
Academic Honesty Policy, at http://www.editor.uci.edu/
Your paper is worth 25% of your course grade; it’s due in my office – SSPB 2243 –
no later than 2:00 pm on Monday, March 17. You may hand your paper to me,
slip it under the door, or leave it in the will file next to my office door.
You may of course turn your paper in early. But late papers will not be accepted.
follow the Chicago Manual of Style Online, author-date system;
Bellugi, U., and S. Fischer. 1972. “A Comparison of Sign Language and Spoken Language: Rate
and Grammatical Mechanisms.” Cognition 1:173-200.
Labov, W. 1972. Language in the Inner City. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Labov, W. 1997. How I got into linguistics, and what I got out of it. Accessed April 20, 2012.
Mufwene, Salikoko S. 1996. “The Development of American Englishes: Some Questions from a
Creole Genesis Perspective.” In Varieties of English around the World: Focus on the USA.
edited by E. W. Schneider, 231-263. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
|Academic Level||College (3-4 years: Junior, Senior)|
|Number of Pages||4 Page(s)/1100 words|