CLAS224 Word Elements
Department of Classics
Monmouth College

Etymology Project

During the semester each student will pursue and develop a project on the history of a word or words. 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  NINE (9) parts. Eight of these are required and one is optional (extra credit). Click for more information.

ALL projects submitted after the due date will receive a late penalty of fifteen points.

PROJECT GRADE: A (150 points); B+ (143 points); B (136 points); C+ (129 points); C (122 points); D+  (115 points); D (108 points).

The grade for this project will be 30% of the final grade. 

1.) Analysis and Comparison of electronic dictionary 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 is provided to complete this assignment. (10 points)
2.) Dictionary Survey and Comparison. A survey of three dictionaries in the Hewes Library which may be useful to your project. For further information, see Dictionary Survey and Comparison. (10 points)
3.) A Prospectus. The prospectus consists of the following: a.) a description of the proposed topic; b.) a  plan of action (i.e., how do you intend to develop this project, in terms of research); c.)  an annotated bibliography of at least five resources (print or electronic). "Annotated" means that you provide a brief description of the resource and an explanation of how it could be used in the project. the project description and plan of action should be approximately 300 words in length. (10 points)
4.) Electronic Word Search and Analysis This search (on the American Heritage Dictionary) should be 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 how you could use this material in your etymology project. For more information see Electronic Word Search. (10 points)
5.) Progress report. This OPTIONAL report can be a detailed outline, description, or rough draft of the project. It must include an annotated bibliography of at least TEN (10) resources consulted so far for the project ( in addition to course textbooks, American Heritage Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary; "annotated" means that you provide a two- or three-sentence description of the resource and an explanation of how it is used in the project). This progress report may provide you with some significant feedback from the instructor at an early stage in the process. (10 points)
6.) Central Product. The central product of this project will typically be a paper, at least six pages in length, which offers a well-written discussion and analysis of an etymology topic. Other possible formats include lesson plans, Powerpoints (containing detailed information in the notes area), etc.  The project will be the result of careful analysis of a variety of resources, including dictionaries, scholarly books and articles on words, and internet resources. The project will demonstrate an ability to analyze words, use dictionaries in both print and electronic forms, and perform electronic word searches. The project will also reflect the student's own interpretation and point of view (originality). (70 points)
7.) Annotated Bibliography (to be submitted along with the final project) A minimum of ten sources are required for a B-range grade; more are encouraged for a project worthy of an A-range grade. The course book (Ayers), American Heritage Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary must also be cited in the bibliography but only as complements to at least ten additional works.  "Annotated" means that you provide at least a two- or three-sentence description of the resource and an explanation of how it was used in the project). The more detailed the annotation, the better the grade. The quality of the material consulted will significantly affect the grade. It is highly recommended that a variety of resources be consulted, including books, journals, dictionaries and websites. Bibliographies must not cite only one kind of source (e.g., websites). Be sure to use consistent and standard bibliographic format. For format of bibliographic references, see Writing Guidelines.
(10 points)
8.) Project Overview and Self-Assessment (to be submitted along with the final paper and poster). This consists of  a written statement (c.750 words) which contains the following information: a.) a summary of the project; b.) a description of its preparation; and c.) an explanation of how you used and analyzed sources (originality); d.) your evaluation of the ways your project meet the project goals (self-assessment). (10 points)
9.) Poster and Presentation. During the exam period a poster visually summarizing the project will be presented to other members of the class. The poster will present the topic in an appropriate combination of text and images. Grade for this presentation will be based upon the quality of the poster and the presenter's ability to explain the project and poster orally to this audience. (30 points)

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

Return to 2003 Word Elements Syllabus
Return to Monmouth College Department of Classics Homepage