Language and Linguistics Commentary

The Assignment


The overarching question to the Language category of required commentaries might be stated broadly as follows: What role do factors of language history and linguistics as a discipline play in any use of language? Language/linguistic factors to be studied by or in your artifact include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • history of language
  • language acquisition
  • dialects
  • language subsystems
  • diversity
  • grammars
  • impacts of language on society

When linguists and other scholars address such issues of language, how do they do it? What are the possible methodological ways of relating linguistics to English studies?

More specifically, you may choose to write a writing commentary if you have completed a course project for which questions like these might be relevant:

  • How does etymology figure in the writing of your artifact?
  • How are issues of grammar addressed by your artifact?
  • What role do syntax, semantics, morphology, pragmatics, dialect, and so on play in your artifact?
  • How does the study of language’s impacts on society, or the opposite—society’s impacts on language—factor in your artifact?
  • How does your artifact not address issues of language and linguistics, but possibly might (or should)?

The Commentary Assignment

Your commentary should not attempt to be a comprehensive study of issues of language and linguistics. Rather, it should identify a relevant issue or issues of language that are present in—or implied by—your artifact. The artifact may or may not use the terms “language” or “linguistics,” but your commentary should use them, or related terms, and use those terms with accuracy and appropriateness for students of language.

Your commentary should contain at least two sections: a section of 300-600 words with the bolded subhead “On Language and Linguistics in General,” and a section of 300-600 words with the bolded subhead, “On Language and Linguistics in [Your Artifact].” These sections may be presented in either order—i.e., the general exploration first, followed by the specific treatment of your artifact, or vice versa. Whatever the order, the general part should provide your understanding of some aspect of the role of language and linguistics in any kind of language performance. The artifact commentary should provide a brief description of your artifact and then some analysis of that artifact in terms relevant to the material in the general section. In other words, the two sections should have some connection.

The object, once again, is not to be comprehensive in your analysis of language and linguistics, but rather to be authentic in using/defining terms, making references, and identifying ideas and traditions, as you choose to raise them in your general statement about language and linguistics and your specific application of those ideas to your artifact.


  • Before writing your commentary, you should consult the evaluation rubric for this assignment.
  • Structurally, your commentary may contain just two sections (i.e., the general disciplinary category section and the specific artifact section)—or, as you wish, may contain additional sections, like an introduction and conclusion. Please note: The goal of the project is to provide a working definition of the general category (or at least part of it) and an illustration of that definition by way of your artifact. The commentary as a whole may not have the traditional “beginning-middle-end” structure of typical critical or course essays, but some of those features may be embedded in the two main sections. Also, the two main sections should mutually set up and refer to one another. That is, each section should not be filled with random, unconnected observations, but rather they should share a common context to some degree.
  • The artifact section of your commentary requires a summary of the artifact. But instead of composing a full, detailed summary of the artifact (which itself could take pages), you should compose a purposeful summary—i.e., a summary that sets up the definitions and illustrations in the two main sections.
  • Your commentary should be 2-4 pages, double-spaced, in length.
  • You should follow your instructor’s requirements for submission procedures and due dates of commentaries in your course.

Rubric for Language Commentary.