Language in U.S. Society
Prof. C. W. Raymond
The purpose of this research paper is to allow you to pursue an interest that you have related to
Language in U.S. Society. We will touch on several topics in class and in our readings, but of
course there is much more out there than we can discuss in a single course. This project is therefore
meant to provide you with an opportunity to delve more in depth into a topic that you are passionate
about, and synthesize some of what is known about it.
Some possible general topic ideas include (but are certainly not limited to):
• Language and performance
• Language and music
• Language in a specific social institution (e.g., healthcare, classrooms, 911 calls, etc.)
• Language socialization in the U.S.
• A non-English language in the U.S.
• A specific ‘non-Standard’ or regional dialect/variety of English (one that we didn’t touch
on in class) in the U.S.
• Language contact in the U.S.
• Language mixing and/or code-switching in the U.S.
• Language and migration to/from the U.S.
• Language education in the U.S.
• Bilingual education in the U.S.
• …and many, many others!
Each of the topics above is very broad, so you will need to narrow down an interest within the
topic of choice: What are you interested in within the topic of bilingual education, for example?
Make sure that what you’re proposing to write about fits within the overarching theme of
‘Language in the United States’, as that is of course the scope of our course.
Have a different idea? Great! Talk to the professor or your TA about it! Just make sure it’s
not something we’re already going to be doing in class in a later week.
Your specific topic must be approved by your TA, so get that approval sooner rather than
You need a minimum of five (5) academic sources for your paper. This means academic journal
articles, academic book chapters, etc. This does NOT mean Wikipedia, newspaper/magazine
articles, random websites, etc. (although such sources may be included in addition to the academic
ones, if they’re relevant to your topic). The reason for this is simply that academic sources undergo
an extensive peer-review process which checks the quality of the information in the article; other
sorts of sources don’t have such a process, and so the quality of the information in them is often
Your TAs will talk about how to find/assess sources in your Week 1 Recitation Section. If
you are unsure if a source is sufficiently academic, please consult with your TA.
Some journals that routinely publish work about different facets of Language in U.S. Society
include (but are certainly not limited to):
• American Ethnologist
• American Speech
• Anthropological Linguistics
• Applied Linguistics
• Communication Monographs
• Discourse and Society
• Discourse Processes
• Discourse Studies
• Gender and Language
• Intercultural Pragmatics
• International Journal of the
Sociology of Language
• Journal of Communication
• Journal of Language and Social
• Journal of Linguistic Anthropology
• Journal of Pragmatics
• Journal of Sociolinguistics
• Language and Communication
• Language and Education
• Language and Linguistics Compass
• Language in Society
• Language and Speech
• Multilingua: Journal of CrossCultural and Interlanguage
• Research on Language and Social
• Social Psychology Quarterly
• Symbolic Interaction
• Text & Talk
Google Scholar is a good place to start looking for sources.
Articles already assigned for class don’t count toward your 5 articles. But of course you can feel
free to cite them as well if they’re relevant!
Proposal: Due Friday, October 4th in your Recitation Sections (Week 6)
An informal, one-page (double-spaced) summary of what you plan to do.
Be sure to list the citation information for the five (5) academic articles you
plan to use. This will give your TA a chance to let you know if one or more
of them isn’t actually an appropriate source, suggest some other potentially
relevant sources, as well as give you feedback on your overall plan. If you
have any questions, feel free also to include those in your Proposal as well.
|Final Paper:||Due Wednesday, December 11th, in Lecture (last day of lecture)
No late projects will be accepted.
7-9 pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman, plus a Works Cited page
(The format of the Works Cited page doesn’t matter – MLA, APA, etc. – as
long as all the information is there so your TAs can find the articles
themselves, if necessary.)
The exact structure of your paper will largely depend on the specific topic
you choose. What you do NOT want to do is simply write 5 big, long
paragraphs summarizing each of your 5 sources. Rather, you should attempt
to weave your sources together in some way, creating a concise overview
of your particular topic for your reader.
You should not be afraid to think critically about your selected articles.
Just as you’re doing with your Canvas blog posts, feel free to disagree with
something that an author says, and explain way. Do two of your articles
contradict each other in some way? Explore that. Might a claim that an
author makes be different in a different context? How so? Did one of your
authors skip straight from point A to point C without explaining point B,
and do you find that a bit suspicious?
In short, the goal of this project is for you to actively engage with some
research in an area that interests you—not simply ‘regurgitate’ what others
have said without thinking for yourself.
4. Grade Breakdown
The paper is worth 20% of your final course grade, broken down as follows:
• Proposal: 3%
• Final Paper: 17%