CLAS224 Word Elements

Etymology Project

Each student will prepare a project on a carefully researched etymology topic which makes significant use of the electronic versions of the American Heritage Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary. The central product of this project can consist of a term paper, a detailed lesson plan, a webpage, or any other appropriate format. Students are encouraged to choose topics based on their own backgrounds and interests. For example, an English major may wish to trace the history of an English word from its origins to the present. A Spanish student may choose to study the influence of Spanish on English (or vice versa). It is highly recommended that you discuss your written report topic with the instructor at an early stage in the process. The project consists of three required and one optional assignments:

1.) An analysis and comparison of electronic entries from American Heritage Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary. For this assignment you should choose a word related to the general topic you plan to work on. For example, if you think you may want to work on an economics topic, you might look up the word "economics" in both electronic dictionaries, copy the entries from both, analyze each entry, and then compare them. A worksheet will be provided to complete this assignment.

2.) An electronic word search related to the topic you plan to pursue. For example, a search of the word "economics" will produce a list of several hundred items. Analyze this list and group the words in categories which help you to organize the material for your project. Submit the original list and analysis along with 250-word precis describing what information you learned about the word from this search and how you could use this material in the etymology project. For more complete instructions see "Electronic Word Search Assignment." (Original list" means that you should submit a copy of the raw data, listed alphabetically, as you copy/pasted it into a word processing file. Be sure to type your name at the top and describe what you were searching in this list (i.e., the words or word elements you were searching. "Analysis" means that you should submit a copy of the raw data reorganized into appropriate, thematic groups.)

3.) Optional progress report. This report can be a detailed outline, description, or rough draft of the paper. (Submission of this progress report will count as EXTRA CREDIT for this project.) One advantage of this progress report is that it provides you with some significant feedback from the instructor.

3.) The finished project. All projects must be accompanied by a written statement (c.600 words) which contains the following information: a.) a summary of the project; b.) a description of its preparation; c.) an annotated bibliography containing at least five works in addition to American Heritage Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary ("annotated" means that you provide a brief explanation of how each of these works were used in the project). NOTE: Course texts like Ayers or Lederer cannot count as one of these five, although they should be cited if you use them. d.) an explanation of original aspects of this project. ALL projects submitted after the due date will receive a late penalty of one letter grade. The grade for this written report will be 15% of the final grade.

This material has been published on the web by Prof. Tom Sienkewicz for his students at Monmouth College. If you have any questions, you can contact him at

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