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ENG 341: Language in Society
K. di Gennaro
Course Title: ENG 341: Language in Society
CRN: 27137
Term: Spring 2022
Professor: Kristen di Gennaro
Email: [email protected]
Preferred contact method: email
Course modality and meeting times: In person, Tuesdays and Thursday, 10:35-12:00.
Following university guidelines, the first two weeks of class will be conducted remotely. Material
for these two weeks will be posted on Classes. You will be expected to complete some course
material asynchronously, at your own pace, and then meet with the class on Zoom for about 1
hour on Thursdays, during our scheduled class time starting at 10:35.
Starting Week 3 (Tuesday, February 8th), we will meet in person twice a week.
Location: 163 William Street, Room 1405.
Student office hours: Tues. 2-2:45, Thurs., 2:45-3:45, and by appointment in person or via Zoom.
Office location: Room 1520, 41 Park Row
Email and Announcements will be sent to your Pace University email account.
Course Description
This course examines language variation within social contexts. We will look at various forms of
language, including spoken, written, and online communication.
This course satisfies AOK #2, AOK #5, and WEC requirements. As an AOK #2 course, we will focus
on linguistic varieties from the United States and Western Europe. As an AOK #5 course, we will
observe and analyze human, social, and natural phenomena.
As a Writing-Enhanced (WE) course, this course includes substantive writing activities and
opportunities for revision.
Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course.
Course Credit: 3.0
Writing-Enhanced (WE) Course Statement:
This class has been designated as writing-enhanced, a course in writing and revision are central to
learning content and achieving course goals. Students will receive detailed written handouts for each
writing assignment, specifying grading criteria and clearly setting forth expectations. Writing will be
thought of as a process whereby students generate ideas, receive feedback, and then
revise. Students will practice their writing through a combination of low stakes, informal writing and
more formal assignments. Students will receive instructor-generated feedback for revision on at least
one writing assignment prior to a second submission and subsequent grading. Final drafts will
be evaluated based on evaluative criteria from a checklist or rubric.
Key Questions
The course content is motivated by the following key questions:
• How do social aspects interact with the language we use?
• How and why do we vary the way we speak and write?
• Why do some of our attempts to communicate fail?
ENG 341: Language in Society
K. di Gennaro
What are speech acts and how can a speech act analysis inform our understanding of current
social issues, such as the prevalence of microaggressions and street harassment?
What are linguistic landscapes and what do they tell us about communities?
What are terms of address and how do they reflect status in society?
What are some methods for observing, documenting and analyzing interactions between
language and society?
How can this course inform our reactions to real-world issues?
Course Learning Objectives / Outcomes
Students who actively engage in the course content, complete the readings, and perform well on
their assignments will be able to ….
➢ Observe and explain how language varies according to context
➢ Gather and analyze linguistic data
➢ Define and describe pragmatic features of language, both spoken and written
➢ Identify advantages and disadvantages of various research methods
➢ Connect course content to real-world contexts
Course Requirements
You will complete a variety of assignments in this course including weekly reading assignments,
short writing tasks based on observations and analyses of language in use, a midterm quiz, a
presentation of a course reading, and an empirical study to be presented as a poster and final paper.
Your final grade will be broken down as follows:
Observations/Analyses of language variation (3x)
Lead discussion of a course reading with visual support
Midterm quiz
Project proposal/conference (RQs, data collection plan)
Project poster
Project paper
Course wrap-up/self-assessment
The grade of Incomplete will be assigned only when the course attendance requirement has been
met but, for reasons satisfactory to the instructor, the granting of a final grade has been postponed
because certain course assignments are outstanding. Incomplete assignments and grading must
be completed with six weeks or the incomplete grade will be converted to an 'F." Incomplete grades
should be avoided at all costs.
Detailed Assignment Descriptions & Assessment Criteria
Participation (10%)
Class engagement and participation are essential in this course. Since critical interaction with the
course content will take place primarily during class discussions, plan to be punctual, prepared, and
present (both physically and mentally) for each class session. Students and the professor will share
the floor as we all engage in active learning and teaching.
ENG 341: Language in Society
K. di Gennaro
Observations / Analyses of linguistic variation (3 x 5% each = 30%)
These three assignments are intended to raise your awareness of how language varies across social
contexts in your everyday interactions (both spoken and written). The most challenging part of these
assignments is also the simplest – before you can observe language features, you have to notice them.
Since we generally focus on meaning more than form in our everyday interactions, we tend to overlook
small variations in language form. Try to tune in to how something is said or written to notice a language
sample that you can describe and contemplate in your assignment.
NOTE: You will submit and share these three assignments on the Discussion Board for the rest
of the class. As you read your classmates’ contributions, think about alternative perspectives
and interpretations of their language data. When time permits, we will discuss some of your
submissions and alternative perspectives together as a class.
Grading Criteria
The assignment ...
___ thoroughly describes a language sample (data)
___ provides sufficient info about the context in which the sample occurred (who, where, when)
___ attempts to critically analyze the language sample by proposing meanings beyond the obvious
___ relates the language sample to the content of our course (discussions of language in society
and key concepts from the course)
Lead discussion of a course reading (10%)
One of the best ways to learn something thoroughly (and to show that we have learned it thoroughly)
is by explaining it to someone else. To this end, you and a classmate will work together to prepare
and lead a discussion of one of the course readings. In your discussion, you are expected to display
a thorough understanding of the reading and provide the rest of the class with key content
information about the reading and its connection to our course. These discussions should be
informative but also interactive. In other words, in addition to identifying main ideas and examples
from the readings, your discussion should make connections with other course material and include
real-life applications that will engage the class in meaningful discussion. If possible, complement
your discussion with a video or two related to the reading. The best discussions are thorough, well
organized, and engaging. Feel free to be creative!
This assignment has four main purposes. Be sure to address these in your discussion: (1) to
help your classmates understand a course reading that you studied in great detail; (2) to show me
what you are learning in the course; (3) to examine the methods used in sociolinguistic research;
and (4) to spark ideas for your own research projects.
Grading Criteria
The discussion of the reading …
___ included visual material for the class (e.g., Powerpoint slides, links, a handout, etc.)
___ was accurate and thorough (correctly interpreted the main points in the reading)
___ drew connections between the reading and other course material
___ included critical perspectives (considered strengths as well as limitations of the reading)
___ explained the research methods used in the research
___ proposed ideas for class projects
___ was engaging (provided opportunities for class discussion and involvement)
___ BONUS points: linked to a video or two related to the reading
Midterm quiz (10%)
A mid-term quiz will assess your understanding of the course readings and class discussions
through a combination of question types including multiple-choice, matching, and short responses.
ENG 341: Language in Society
K. di Gennaro
Course project
The purpose of the course project is for you to engage in and reflect upon the process of conducting
primary sociolinguistic research. Drawing on your observation and analysis assignments, class
discussions, and course readings for inspiration, we will brainstorm relevant and manageable
research topics. Working in pairs or small groups, you will develop research questions, select a
method to investigate your questions, design study instruments, plan data collection procedures,
conduct field work to collect data, organize your findings, and present your findings to the class and
in a final written version.
The course project will be completed in multiple stages with your research team sharing your
progress along the way.
Conference to discuss project proposal (10%)
Meet with me during conference week to share your project topic, research questions, and plan for
gathering and analyzing data.
Project poster (10%)
You will summarize your research in a poster format similar to those presented at academic conferences.
You will present your poster to the class so that your classmates can provide feedback for you to
consider when completing the paper version of the project.
Grading Criteria
The poster …
___ introduces the research topic / research questions
___ explains the methods used to conduct your research
___ summarizes your results and analysis
___ concludes with implications (for real-world connections or future research)
Project paper (15%)
Your paper will be a revised and longer version of your poster presentation.
Grading Criteria
The paper …
___ addresses a research topic relevant to language in society
___ includes an introduction that clearly lays out the project’s topic and its significance
___ briefly summarizes previous research on the topic (from the course readings or library research)
___ includes a methods section with a clear and thorough description of the data selection,
collection, and type of analysis
___ presents the results thoroughly and clearly (in tables, charts, etc.)
___ includes a discussion section in which the results are meaningfully interpreted
___ mentions potential limitations of the study
___ concludes by reinforcing the relevance of the topic (including implications, recommendations,
___ includes a properly formatted list of references
___ is clearly written
Course wrap-up/assessment (5%)
This will be a very short task at the end of the semester.
ENG 341: Language in Society
K. di Gennaro
Instructional Materials and Course Tools
In place of a textbook, we will read a collection of articles and chapters from a variety of books and
journals. Digital copies of the readings will be posted on Classes in the order you will read them for the
course. Be sure to complete the readings accompanying each course module and before we are
scheduled to discuss them in class. Fundamental concepts relevant to the course readings will be
presented in Classes pages in the course modules.
Our Learning Management System (LMS) is called Classes. To access our course, you will need to
log in to Classes.
1. Go to
2. Enter your username and password
3. Click on the "Login" button
Course Modules and Readings:
Be sure to complete the readings before we are scheduled to discuss them in class.
Readings in red are for student-led class discussions.
Module 1 – Introduction to the course
Course syllabus. Pre-course survey.
Module 2 – Language variation and the birth of sociolinguistics – from regional to social
Labov, William. (2006). The social stratification of (r) in New York City department stores. In W.
Labov, The social stratification of English in New York City, 2nd ed. (pp. 40-57). New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Mather, Patrick-André, (2011). The Social Stratification of /r/ in New York City: Labov’s department
store study revisited. Journal of English Linguistics, 40(4), 338-356. (Replication of Labov’s study)
Module 3 – Pragmatics, pragmatic features in spoken and written language, pragmatic failure;
linguistic features and social judgments
Economidou-Kogetsidis, Maria. (2011). ‘‘Please answer me as soon as possible’’: Pragmatic failure
in non-native speakers’ e-mail requests to faculty. Journal of Pragmatics, 43, 3193-3215.
Hyland, K. (1998). Boosting, hedging and the negotiation of academic knowledge. TEXT 18 (3) pp.
349- 382.
Queen, R., & Boland J. E. (2015). I think your going to like me: Exploring the role of errors in email
messages on assessments of potential housemates. Linguistics Vanguard, 1, 283-293.
Module 4 – Speech acts: requests, refusals, compliments, responding to compliments,
compliments vs. catcalls
Placencia, M.E., A. Lower, and H. Powell. 2016. Complimenting behaviour on Facebook:
Responding to compliments in American English. Pragmatics and Society, 7(3), 339–365.
Davis, B. 2008. “Ah, excuse me … I like your shirt”: An examination of compliment responses across
gender by Australians. Griffith Working Papers in Pragmatics and Intercultural Communication 1,
(2), 76–87.
Bailey, B. (2017). Greetings and compliments or street harassment? Competing evaluations of street
remarks in a recorded collection. Discourse & Society, 28(4), 353–373
ENG 341: Language in Society
K. di Gennaro
Chen, R., and D. Yang. 2010. Responding to compliments in Chinese: Has it changed? Journal of
Pragmatics, 42, (7), 1951–1963.
di Gennaro, K., & Ristchel, C. (2019). Blurred lines: The relationship between catcalls and
compliments. Women’s Studies International Forum, 75.
Module 5 – More speech acts: apologies, self-praise; data collection methods
Lutzky, U., & Kehoe, A. (2017). “Oops, I didn’t mean to be so flippant”. A corpus pragmatic analysis
of apologies in blog data. Journal of Pragmatics, 116, 27-36.
Dayter, D. (2018). Self-praise online and offline. Internet Pragmatics, 1(1), 184-203.
Module 6 – Microaggressions; mansplaining; linguistic landscapes; additional data collection
di Gennaro, K., & Brewer, M. (2019). Microaggressions as speech acts: Using pragmatics to define
and develop a research agenda for microaggressions. Applied Ling. Review, 10(4), pp. 725-744.
Abdelaziz, M. M. et al. (2021). Student stories: Microaggressions in Communication Sciences and
Disorders. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 30, 1990-2002.
Johnson, C. R. (2020). Mansplaining and illocutionary force. Feminist Philosophy Quarterly, 6(4),
Article 3.
Trinch, S., & Snajdr, E. (2017). What the signs say: Gentrification and the disappearance of
capitalism without distinction in Brooklyn. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 21(1), 64–89.
Module 7 – Forms of address; finalize project topics; midterm quiz
Kleinman, S., Copp, M., & Wilson, K. B. (2021). We’ve come a long way, guys! Rhetorics of
resistance to the feminist critique of sexist language. Gender & Society, 35(1), 61-84.
Saguy, A. C. & Williams, J. A. (2022). A little word that means a lot: A reassessment of singular they
in a new era of gender politics. Gender & Society, 361), 5-31.
Parkinson (2020). On the use of address terms guys and mate in an educational context. Journal of
Pragmatics, 161(3), 81-94.
Module 8 – Conferences: discuss progress on projects
Module 9 – Data collection instruments.
Share data collection instruments with the class. Gather data.
Module 10 – Project models: posters, papers. Sections of a research project.
Module 11 – Analyze results.
Module 12 – Project posters.
Module 13 – From poster to paper.
Module 14 – Breathe.
Module 15 – Course wrap-up and assessment.
Additional readings may be added depending on the progression of the course.
ENG 341: Language in Society
K. di Gennaro
Weekly schedule (subject to change if needed)
Topics and Key Questions
Assignments for this week
Week 1
Tuesday will be asynchronous, remote
learning. Thursday we’ll meet on Zoom.
Module 1: Introduction to the course and
classmates. What do you already know
about the interaction of language and
Complete the pre-course survey (link
posted in Module 1).
Key questions:
What is this course about?
What are the course goals and expectations?
What are the major assignments and how will
they be assessed?
Where do I find the course readings?
When and where does the class meet?
What do I already know about the topics of the
course (see survey)?
What questions do I have about the course?
What are some key terms I will learn about in
this course?
What are some real-world issues related to
language in society?
Read Module 1 and the syllabus
Select articles for discussion leading –
Email me your top 3 choices no later
than Friday, January 28th.. If you
already have a partner, be sure you both
email me the same top 3 choices. If you
don’t have a partner, I will pair you up
with someone with similar choices.
Introduce yourself to the class on the
Discussion Board.
Post questions (if any) about the
syllabus or the course in general on
Classes Discussion Board.
Class meets on Zoom at 10:35.
Fill in schedule for leading article
Week 2
Tuesday 2/1
(Lunar new
No classes on Tuesday – Lunar New Year.
Module 2: Language variation and the birth
of sociolinguistics – from regional to social
Read (before class meeting)
Labov (2006).
Mather (2011).
Post Observation & Analysis #1 on
Key questions:
Discussion Board by Friday, February
What is language variation? What is inter4th
individual vs. intra-individual variation?
Can language variation be studied
Finalize schedule for leading article
What are social variables? What are linguistic
Who is William Labov and what is significant
about his early research?
What is a replication study and are replications
What is the Observation & Analysis
assignment? What should my submission look
like? What counts as language to observe?
ENG 341: Language in Society
K. di Gennaro
Class meets on Zoom at 10:35.
Week 3
Class meets in person
Tuesday 2/8 Module 3 – Pragmatics, pragmatic features
in spoken and written language, pragmatic
failure; linguistic features and social
Discussion of Economidou-Kogetsidis article
led by:
Read (before class meetings)
Economidou-Kogetsidis (2011). ‘‘Please
answer me as soon as possible’’:
Hyland (1998). Boosting, hedging and
the negotiation of academic
Queen & Boland (2015). I think your
going to like me: Exploring the role of
errors in email messages on
assessments of potential housemates.
Share observation and analyses.
Key questions:
What is the study of pragmatics? What are
pragmatic features – what do they do?
What are some pragmatic features in spoken
language? What are pragmatic features in
written language?
How do linguistic features affect social
Discussion of Hyland article
led by:
Discussion of Queen and Boland article
led by:
Week 4
Module 4 – Speech acts: requests, refusals, Read (before class meetings)
compliments, responding to compliments,
Placencia (2016). Complimenting
compliments vs. catcalls
behaviour on Facebook.
Davis (2008). “Ah, excuse me … I like
Discussion of Placencia article
your shirt”
led by:
Bailey (2017). Greetings and
compliments or street harassment?
Chen & Yang (2010). Responding to
Key questions:
compliments in Chinese.
What are speech acts? What is useful about
di Gennaro & Ritschel (2019). Blurred
studying speech acts? What is locutionary,
lines: The relationship between catcalls
illocutionary, and perlocutionary force? What
and compliments.
types of topics could you research for your
course project?
ENG 341: Language in Society
K. di Gennaro
Discussion of Davis article
led by:
Discussion of Bailey article
led by:
Week 5
Module 5 – More speech acts: apologies,
Read (before class meetings)
self-praise; data collection methods; course Lutzky & Kehoe (2017). “Oops, I didn’t
mean to be so flippant.”
Dayter (2018). Self-praise online and
Discussion of Lutzky & Kehoe article
led by:
Form teams for course projects and
brainstorm topics.
Key questions:
Post Observation & Analysis #2 on
What additional speech acts can you think of? Discussion Board by Friday, February
How could you gather data on speech acts?
How is a speech act model useful for analyzing
What data collection methods have we seen so
far? What are some advantages and
disadvantages of each?.
Discussion of Dayter article
led by:
Week 6
Module 6 – Microaggressions;
Tuesday 3/1 mansplaining; linguistic landscapes;
additional data collection methods
Discussion of di Gennaro & Brewer article
led by:
Discussion of Abdelaziz et al. article
led by:
Key questions:
Read (before class meetings)
di Gennaro & Brewer (2019).
Microaggressions as speech acts:
Abdelaziz et al. (2021). Student stories:
Microaggressions in Communication
Sciences and Disorders.
Johnson (2020). Mansplaining and
illocutionary force.
Trinch & Snajdr (2017). What the signs
say: Gentrification and the
disappearance of capitalism without
distinction in Brooklyn.
ENG 341: Language in Society
K. di Gennaro
What are microaggressions and how do they
relate to speech acts? What is mansplaining
and how does it relate to our course?
What are linguistic landscapes? What could
you study using a linguistic landscape lens?
Discussion of Johnson article
led by:
Check in with research teams.
Narrow down research topic and discuss
potential data collection plans.
List previous research related to your
Discussion of Trinch & Snajdr
led by:
Week 7
Module 7 – Forms of address; finalize
project topics; midterm quiz
Discussion of Kleinman et al. article
led by:
Key questions:
What are forms of address? What do
observations about forms of address tell us
about society? What additional research
methods have we seen in the articles we’ve
read so far? What additional types of topics
could you research for your course project?
Discussion of Saguy & Williams article
led by:
Read (before class meetings)
Kleinman et al. (2021). We’ve come a
long way, guys!
Saguy & Williams (2022). A little word
that means a lot: A reassessment of
singular they in a new era of gender
Parkinson (2020). On the use of address
terms guys and mate in an educational
Post Observation & Analysis #3 on
Discussion Board by Friday, February
March 9th
Meet with research teams.
Finalize topic and narrow down data
collection method.
Write paragraph explaining why your
topic matters. Include examples of the
language feature(s) you plan to study.
Submit on Classes by the end of
Thursday 3/10.
Spring Break
Week 8
3/22 & 3/24
Module 8 – Conferences – discuss progress Prepare and bring data collection
on projects
instruments to conference.
Meet with research teams.
Rest but don’t shut down.
ENG 341: Language in Society
K. di Gennaro
Week 9
3/29 & 3/31
Module 9 – Data collection instruments.
Share data collection instruments with the
class and modify as needed. Gather data.
Finalize data collection instruments.
Collect data.
Write draft of methods section and be
prepared to share with the class next
Week 10
4/5 & 4/7
Module 10 – Project models: posters,
papers. Sections of a research project.
Note the sections and ordering of
research posters and papers.
Week 11
4/12 & 4/14
Module 11 – Analyze results
Share analysis and results.
Write up results section. Be prepared to
Week 12
4/19 & 4/21
Module 12 – Project posters
Share complete project with the class in the
form of a poster.
Write paragraph connecting your project
to real-world issues.
Week 13
4/26 & 4/28
Module 13 – From poster to paper.
Convert poster presentation to an empirical
research paper.
Submit complete paper by the end of
Friday, April 29th
Week 14
5/3 only
Module 14 – Breathe
Thursday 5/5 Study Day – No class
Week 15
5/10 & 5/20
Course wrap-up.
University Policies and Resources
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ENG 341: Language in Society
K. di Gennaro
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ENG 341: Language in Society
K. di Gennaro
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ENG 341: Language in Society
K. di Gennaro
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International Student/Scholars
(212) 346-1368
Lubin School of Business Academic
UG (914) 773-3531
UG (212) 618-6550
Grad (212) 618-6440
Office of Multicultural Affairs
(914) 773-3628
(212) 346-1546
Office of Sexual and Interpersonal Wellness
(212) 346-1931
Office of Student Assistance (OSA)
(877) 672-1830
Pace Women’s Justice Center
(914) 287-0739
Pforzheimer Honors College Academic
(212) 346-1697
Residential Life
(914) 597-8777
Seidenberg School Academic Advisement
(212) 346-1295
[email protected]
Sexual Assault Prevention & Education
(212) 346-1931
Study Abroad
(212) 346-1368
Student Accessibility Services
(914) 773-3710
(212) 346-1526
Student Engagement
(914) 773-3767
(212) 346-1590
University Health Care
(914) 773-3760
(212) 346-1600