English in the United States (Q1087)

15 credits, Level 5

Spring teaching

This module assesses the linguistic landscape of the United States from the colonial period onward and examines the linguistic and social forces that have brought the US to its current linguistic state.

We consider how a nation of such size and diverse history has managed without an explicit language policy, arriving at a de facto standardised national language.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • What is the native linguistic landscape of North America? (How) have European and native American languages interacted?
  • What was ‘English’ in the colonial period? How did expansion and immigration change the linguistic landscape?
  • What is ‘American’ about ‘American English’? How is it different from other national varieties? Why isn’t it more different from other Englishes?
  • How was language standardisation achieved? Which institutions, individuals and events affected it?
  • Are there particularly ‘American’ forms or uses of linguistic communication?
  • Is American English a threat to other linguistic varieties?


46%: Lecture (Film, Lecture)
14%: Practical (Workshop)
39%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Portfolio)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 150 hours of work. This breaks down into 24 hours of contact time and 126 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.