Review Comment

[AMST W3931] The Languages of America

July 30, 2015

McWhorter, John Silver_nugget
[AMST W3931] The Languages of America

For Linguistics Majors (yes we exist): This class might be the chillest way to get through the language contact requirement. There's weekly readings of somewhere between 20 and 60 pages, all interesting. McWhorter facilitates conversation well, but you sometimes feel it's a 50/50 split of academic discussion on sociolinguistics in America and hanging out with him.

Notes to others (often American Studies people): There's a lot of underlying linguistics stuff in the readings/discussion that AmerStudies people in my section found to be new, but it was definitely nothing insurmountable.

I found that the mixed crowd of linguistics and Amer studies kids brought a richness to the discussion.

The final paper is easiest when you start getting sources a month before it's due. Choose a topic that fits your interests. Also, he's not kidding about getting it in on time.


Not bad. Weekly reading, 20 pages final paper. People switch off bringing food for class.

May 16, 2012

McWhorter, John Silver_nugget
[AMST W3931] The Languages of America

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Prof. McWhorter is an outstanding teacher, but he shines more in lecture than in seminar, because in the latter he tends to take a back seat to the student discussion. Student discussion in a seminar is of course a good thing, but often this semester it was a bit chaotic because he didn't use a firm enough hand as moderator.

The material was interesting--we covered native american languages as well as immigrant languages, slang and alternative forms of english, and the influence of technology on language. Interesting topics, interesting readings, and interesting discussion--and you get more out of it the more you put in (do the readings).

this is an engaging, energetic, fun course that is not very demanding until the final paper.


workload: 2-3 articles per week, class for 2 hours once a week, weekly one page responses (not summaries) to the readings, one 20 page end of term research paper on the topic of your choosing. keep in mind that McWhorter is not a very lenient grader, and the term paper counts for almost all of your grade--people whose major does not pertain to this subject might want to take it as a pass/fail to not mess up their GPA (unless they plan on cranking out a kickass 20 page paper).

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
AMST / AMST AMST AMST W3931: Topics in American Studies: the Languages of America John McWhorter 2013 Spring T / 11:00-12:50 PM 4
AMST / AMST AMST AMST W3931: Topics in American Studies: the Languages of America John McWhorter 2012 Spring T / 4:10- 6:00 PM 6