Dr. Seth R. Katz

Associate Professor
Associate Chair
Office: Bradley Hall 383
Bradley University
  Department of English
1501 West Bradley Avenue
Peoria, IL 61625
(309) 677-2479

Keep up with Baby Blues, Funky Winkerbean,
Prince Valiant, or Zippy the Pinhead.
Or, play Set daily.

American English Grammar: An Introduction.

by Seth R. Katz

New York: Routledge, 2020.

American English Grammar introduces students to American English in detail, from parts-of-speech, phrases, and clauses to punctuation and explaining (and debunking) numerous "rules of correctness," integrating its discussion of Standard American grammar with thorough coverage of the past sixty years' work on African American English and other ethnic and regional non-Standard varieties. The book's examples and exercises include 500 real-world sentences and longer texts, drawn from newspapers, film, song lyrics, and online media; Mark Twain, Stephen King, academic texts, translations of the Bible, poetry, drama, children's literature, and transcribed conversation and TV and radio shows. Based on 20 years of classroom testing and revision, American English Grammar will serve as a classroom text or reference grammar that teaches students how to think and talk not only about the mechanics of sentences, but about the deep and detailed soul and nuance of the most widely used language in human history.

"Notwithstanding the abundance of grammar books, we have a critical need for a unique text on American English that treats diversity as natural and is based on sentences and texts representing a full range of uses - from well-known, expert writers to online media and song lyrics. This is such a text as it guides students to see the language soul beyond the structure of sentences."

Walt Wolfram
William C. Friday Distinguished University Professor, North Carolina State University, USA

"I took Dr. Katz's grammar course while he was developing American English Grammar, and his book proved revolutionary for my teaching, my students, and my own personal understanding of grammar. Dr. Katz's common-sense approach to describing how language comes together, rather than the traditional defining of rules, has helped me give my students the freedom to explore language with joy and delight. Instead of requiring students to memorize lists and rules, AEG scaffolds the skills necessary to truly study the inner workings of our nuanced language. Because Dr. Katz's approach is built on real-world examples and the ambiguity they entail, students learn to wade into the deep-end and emerge from the pool of language with a firm grasp of the infinite possibilities of American English. This transformational text has helped me lead my own students to becoming better readers, writers, and speakers; and it has helped me lay the foundation my students need to analyze and create more complex rhetorical constructions. With American English Grammar, Dr. Katz gives American English speakers the ability to truly understand how to communicate clearly."

Erik Czerwin
English Language Arts teacher, Rockford, Illinois, USA
"I approach American English Grammar having had the benefit of learning from an earlier version of this textbook as an undergraduate. The foundation in analytical grammar that AEG provides allows the diligent student the tools needed to not just understand what we write, but how and why. The true strength of AEG is in its extensive examples and in how it encourages discussion and argumentation in classification. In my own educational career, while I was rarely called upon to diagram a sentence, I have often fallen back on the analytical training this text provides while in both the EFL and the college composition classroom. This more polished and updated edition, meant for students outside of Dr. Katz's classroom, will give a wider audience of future educators, authors, and readers the means to understand the underpinnings of American English."

Christopher Douglas
Jacksonville State University, USA

Ain'thology: The History and Life of a Taboo Word.

Patricia Donaher and Seth Katz, eds.

Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015.

The word ain't is used by speakers of all dialects and sociolects of English. Nonetheless, language critics view ain't as marking speakers as "lazy" or "stupid"; and the educated assume ain't is on its deathbed, used only in cliches. Everyone has an opinion about ain't. Even the grammar-checker in Microsoft Word flags every ain't with a red underscore. But why? Over the past 100 years, only a few articles and sections of books have reviewed the history of ain't or discussed it in dialect contexts. This first book-length collection specifically dedicated to this shibboleth provides a multifaceted analysis of ain't in the history and grammar of English; in English speech, writing, television, comics and other media; and in relation to the minds, attitudes, and usage of speakers and writers of English from a range of regions, ethnicities, social classes, and dialect communities. Most articles in the collection are accessible for the average educated speaker, while others are directed primarily at specialists in linguistic study, but with helpful explanations and footnotes to make these articles more approachable for the layperson. This collection of articles on ain't thus provides a broad audience with a rich understanding and appreciation of the history and life of this taboo word.

"For students of the English language, this is the most enlightening and comprehensive set of essays ever compiled on the iconic word ain't. It brings together the multifaceted ways in which a shibboleth of language functions socially and linguistically, from its social and stylized use in a full range of situations and genres to its intricate and complex linguistic composition and patterning. An extraordinary contribution to the field!"

Walt Wolfram
William C. Friday Distinguished University Professor, North Carolina State University
"Asked what ain�t was by a foreigner, most English speakers would say it's "just slang," a "mistake" permissible only amidst relaxation, used more widely only by the ignorant. Ain'thology sets us straight: ain't's history reaches back into the beginnings of English as we know it, it has often been used by thoroughly elegant persons, and it is subject to grammatical rules as complex as the ones that determine when a French person uses the subjunctive. Ain't is so complicated that it takes legions of scholars to figure it all out, and in this book we hear from no fewer than seventeen of them."

John McWhorter
Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University
Author of The Power of Babel, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue and The Language Hoax
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    Grammar and Linguistics
  • The Eggcorn Database--a linguists' site on malapropisms
  • Grammar Girl
  • Urban Dictionary--a contemporary slang dictionary
  • Ed Vavra's "KISS Grammar Site"
  • The Assembly for Teaching English Grammar.
  • Mark Turner's homepage

    Teaching Resources: A stretchtext experiment
  • Torah:

    Aging Online Publications

    I had a couple of articles in the 1997 issue of PIPA: Publication of the Illinois Philological Association: "The Poetic Use of Sentence Fragments" and, with Sarah (Stevens) Parlier, "Standard English Immersion for Native English Speakers"

    Check out my articles in Kairos: a Journal for Teachers of Writing in Webbed Environments, Vol. 2 Issue #1 (Spring 1997). The articles are "One Department's Guidelines for Evaluating Computer-Related Work," an account and critique of how our department revised our Tenure and Promotion Guidelines to evaluate computer-related work; and "Tenure and Technology: New Values, New Guidelines," this issues CoverWeb Overview, which I coauthored with Janice Walker of the University of South Florida and Janet Cross of California State University-Northridge.

    Here is a hypertext copy of the Bradley University Department of English Guidelines for Tenure, Promotion, and Renewal. These guidelines include the language added in 1997 about how our department will evaluate computer-related academic work, and they are the topic of the Kairos article mentioned above.

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    Page last updated August 16, 2019.