Words and the World

Module code: EN3079

Module co-ordinator: to be confirmed

In this module you will take a close look at words and dictionaries, including not just modern dictionaries but also the history of the English dictionary. We will examine what information dictionaries present and how they present it, and consider how words can be defined. We will explore where words come from and how and why they change in meaning. We will also discuss how the words available to us influence the way we view the world and how our own selection of words expresses who we are, who we want to be, and who we want people to think we are.

As part of the module you will either produce an independent study of words or dictionaries or compile a mini-dictionary of your own, bringing your own interests and experience to bear on your choice of project.

Topics covered

  • Modern English dictionaries and their contents
  • The history of the English dictionary
  • Theories of meaning -- how is it possible to use words to define words?
  • Word origins, word forms, and change of meaning
  • Metaphorical usage and its influence on interpretation
  • The relationship between word choice and personal/group identity
  • The relationship between word availability and world-view




Essay or project, 5,000 words (100%)