English 112: Language in the Real World (3) [HUM]
Topic: Language and Law
Instructor: Dr. Lynn Gordon
Spring 2017
MWF 12:10-1:00     Avery 106

Contact Information
Office: Avery 347                                                                            Office hours: MW 3:30-4:30
Telephone: 335-2117 (Office)/332-2591 (Home)                    E-mail: lynn.gordon@wsu.edu                                                                                                         

Course Description   This course has no prerequisites.
Language is central to law: Law is encoded in  language and controls and defines some uses of language, and certain kinds of information about language, in general, and specific linguistic usage can serve as evidence in legal proceedings.  In this class you will learn about how language and law interact and, in doing so, will be introduced to the field of linguistics.

Learning Goals
At the end of this course, students should be able to 

  • identify relevant theories, terms and topics in linguistics;
  • recognize and use methods common to linguistics and legal analysis;
  • interpret texts using linguistic theories and methods; and
  • identify ways in which language use is affected by and affects legal custom and practice.
Student success at attaining these goals will be assessed through performance on 
  • homework and class discussion (worth 25% of the total grade);
  • a take-home midterm exam (worth 25% of the total grade); and
  • a take-home final exam (worth 50% of the total grade).
                                    86-87.9      B+        76-77.9   C+      56-57.9      D+  
    90-100%   A         80-85.9      B          60-75.9   C         50-55.9      D        below 50    F
    88-89.9%  A-       78-79.9       B-        58-59.9   C-        

A tentative schedule is posted on the class calendar page.  That schedule is subject to constant revision throughout the semester so you should check it regularly.

Required Texts & Other Materials
Required readings, discussion materials and homework assignments are posted on the class website.

Attendance Policy
As an adult, you must make your own decisions whether or not to come to class. However, you should realize that coming to class is part of your job as a student, as is completing the homework on time and passing the exams. Just coming to class will make meeting your other responsibilities in this class easier.  Moreover, since a lot of this class is going to be based on our discussions, failure to attend will limit what you get out of the class and what your fellow students do.   I do not take attendance in this class, but I do reserve the right to give an attendance quiz (worth the equivalent of a regular homework assignment) without warning if the attendance in class falls too low.


WSU Learning Goals of the Baccalaureate

Student Learning Outcomes

This outcome will be evaluated primarily by:

Critical & Creative Thinking

Define, analyze, and solve problems; integrate and synthesize knowledge from multiple sources; assess the accuracy and validity of findings and conclusions.

homework; midterm and final exams

Information Literacy

Identify appropriate sources of information through the use of library databases, and identify and assess evidence for particular language and law-related arguments.  Read and analyze actual legal documents (including statutes and judicial opinions).

homework; midterm and final exams


Speak with comfort in front of a group; express concepts, propositions, and beliefs in coherent, concise and technically correct form; recognize how circumstances, background, values, interests, goals and needs shape communication sent and received.

class discussion; homework

University Announcements

Academic Integrity
Academic integrity is the cornerstone of higher education. As such, all members of the university community share responsibility for maintaining and promoting the principles of integrity in all activities, including academic integrity and honest scholarship. Academic integrity will be strongly enforced in this course.
Students who violate WSU’s Academic Integrity Policy (identified in Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 504-26-010(3) and -404) will fail the course, will not have the option to withdraw from the course pending an appeal, and will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct. Cheating includes, but is not limited to, plagiarism and unauthorized collaboration as defined in the Standards of Conduct for Students, WAC 504-26-010(3). You need to read and understand all of the definitions of cheating at http://app.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=504-26-010. If you have any questions about what is and is not allowed in this course, you should ask course instructors before proceeding. If you wish to appeal a faculty member's decision relating to academic integrity, please use the form available at conduct.wsu.edu.

Reasonable Accommodation
Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. If you have a disability and need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please contact the Access Center

by email at Access.Center@wsu.edu OR
by telephone at  509-335-3417 OR
in person at Washington Building 217 

to schedule an appointment with an Access Advisor. All accommodations MUST be approved through the Access Center. For more information contact a Disability Specialist on your home campus.

Safety Statement
Classroom and campus safety are of paramount importance at Washington State University, and are the shared responsibility of the entire campus population.  WSU urges students to follow the “Alert, Assess, Act” protocol for all types of emergencies and the “Run, Hide, Fight” response for an active shooter incident. Remain ALERT (through direct observation or emergency notification), ASSESS your specific situation, and ACT in the most appropriate way to assure your own safety (and the safety of others if you are able). Please sign up for emergency alerts on your account at MyWSU. For more information on this subject, campus safety, and related topics, please view the FBI’s Run, Hide, Fight video at https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cirg/active-shooter-and-mass-casualty-incidents/run-hide-fight-video and visit the WSUsafety portal at https://provost.wsu.edu/classroom-safety/.

Severe Weather
For severe weather alerts, see: http://alert.wsu.edu/ and https://oem.wsu.edu/emergency-procedures/severe-weather/. In the event of severe weather affecting university operations, guidance will be issued through the alert system.