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Sample Linguistic Undergraduate Assignment

Published by at December 13th, 2022 , Revised On February 2, 2024

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In a language study, the term ‘dialect’ refers to a particular language form peculiar to a specific social group or a region (Smakman, 2012, p.26). In this form of language, the way of using a word, its punctuation, and grammar differs from region to region.

For instance, if Belfast reads an English newspaper article, it is likely they will read it in their accent, even if the article is written in a different form, other than Belfast dialect (North, 2012, p. 44). Although English speakers possess various regional accents, they use Standard English vocabulary and grammar instead of their local dialect.

Similarly, in Western countries, children are raised believing that a rainbow has seven definitive colours, overlapping each other in a ‘bow’ form, each distinct in colour. However, in reality, the rainbow is a ‘spectrum’ of light in which each colour is merged into the next, gradually turning ‘red’ into ‘orange,’ which then turns into ‘yellow’ and so on (Keuleers et al., 2012, p.290).

Endonormative Stabilisation

In a language study, the term ‘endonormative stabilisation’ refers to a way locals speak a second language compared to how it is spoken in a country where it originally belongs (Bernaisch and Koch, 2016, p.119). During endonormative stabilisation, the local variety of English gets actively promoted, and its rights are accepted as a legitimate part of the culture of a territory.

For instance, the English model is no longer looked at by the population of Britain. Instead, they focus on promoting language’s local norms. It often follows a specific territory’s political independence, and language-related issues play a vital role in establishing a diverse political identity (Seargeant and Swann, 2013, p.109).

Inflectional Affix

In an inflectional affix, grammatical contrast is essential for word-class stem in a given grammar context. The class of words is not changed by its stem. However, a non-idiosyncratic and predictable change of meaning is produced (Altenbek and Xiao-long, 2010, p.01).For instance, the addition of ‘er’ in the word ‘thin’ can change its comparative form.

Similarly, the addition of ‘s’ in the word ‘match’ can change the word from singular to plural (North, 2012, p.48). Inflectional affixes are the word’s morphemes indicating that whether the word is superlatives (for adverbs and adjectives), progressive, present, or past (for verbs), and plural or singular (for nouns). For instance, calls, called, and calling are inflectional since they are distinct amid possessives and singular/plural (Manova, 2015, p.217).



The origins of the word ‘Fathom’ relate to the word ‘fæthm’ used in Germanic, then transferred into Old English and later into ‘Fathom’ used by Dutch and Germans (OED Online, 2013a).  The word ‘Fathom’ is translated from the word ‘Orguia’ use by Ancient Greek to measure.

During the period of Byzantine, this measurement unit was categorised into two different forms, including ‘Simple Orguia,’ used as old Greek fathom’s rough equivalent, and ‘Geometric Orguia’ or ‘Imperial Orguia’ (OED Online, 2013a).

Word Class

Although the word ‘fathom’ is listed by Oxford English Dictionary as a noun, which is now referred commonly to as a measure of six feet (especially of depth), used originally for measuring distance. It was created by stretching both the arms straight out from one to the other end of the body, from left fingertip to right fingertip or vice versa (OED Online, 2013b).

Concerning its earliest uses in history, the word ‘fathom’ used as a verb indicated the encircling of something, usually an object, by using arms in such a way that it illustrated an ’embrace, which later on became its synonym. However, in the 1600s, the meaning of ‘fathom’ was used as a sounding line for depth measurement.

Simultaneously, ‘fathom’ used as a verb developed its senses synonymous with ‘investigate’ as well as ‘probe,’ and which currently used for referring to the activity which involves reaching towards the end or bottom of something, for instance, ‘he could not fathom the depth of the ocean’ (Newnham, 2007, p.29).


Apart from the use of ‘fathom’ as a unit measurement, it can also be used in different contexts to discover the meaning of something and understand or comprehend the actions of others as they do. According to Oxford English Dictionary, the word fathom in the above connotations is used negatively, which means an inability to completely understand what is going on (OED Online, 2013c).

However, the word ‘fathom’ functions as a stem, and the word ‘fathomless’ can be derived by the addition of a suffix ‘less.’ According to (North 2012, p.29), the word class is often changed by the addition of a suffix, although ‘fathom’ is usually a noun, ‘fathomless’ is an adjective.

According to Adams (2016, p.10), words that use the suffix ‘less’ are almost all adjectives, with most of the words coming from nouns, with the absence of quality and sense of lacking. Concerning the need, suffixes can be used for creating adjectives. ‘Fathom’s’ usual comparative adjective form is ‘fathomed’ whereas it is’ fathoming’ in terms of excellent form.

The following adjectives are created by adding the suffixes such as ‘ed’ and ‘ing,’ which are used frequently to create superlative and comparative adjectives forms (North, 2012, p.30).


There are various senses regarding the word ‘fathom’ listed in The Oxford English Dictionary, both as nouns and adjectives. Concerning adjectives, ‘fathom’ can be used as ‘fathomless,’ ‘fathoming,’ ‘fathomed,’ as well as ‘fathomable’ (OED Online, 2013d).

Furthermore, ‘fathom’ can also be used as an antonym for ‘mislead’ and ‘misunderstand.’ As a noun, ‘fathom’ can be utilized in numerous ways. However, some of them have become obsolete due to the use of emerging and more appropriate words such as ‘perceive,’ ‘understand’ and ‘comprehend.’

The senses of word ‘fathom’ that are more commonly used today are the ones that possess an excessive degree, the utmost tolerable and imaginable of anything as well as those which inhabits a place at both ends of anything (OED Online, 2013e).


Since the word ‘fathom’ has various distinct senses, hence it has many synonyms as well. Words today that has replaced ‘fathom’ are ‘understand’ and ‘comprehend,’ which possess similar meanings in today’s Historical Thesaurus. However, the synonyms for ‘fathom’ are used based on the region to which an individual belongs since different cultures use different synonym to replace specific words.

For instance, according to OED Online (2013a) one sense of ‘fathom’ is ‘make head or tail of’, and in the list of thesaurus the earliest word as having this sense ‘investigate’, used in terms of examining, inspecting and exploring since the fourteenth century. Currently, the sense of ‘fathom’ is less common than previous centuries, possibly due to the availability of more easy and frequently used words such as ‘understand’ and comprehend’.

Among its early meanings and sense, ‘grasp’ was also used as its frequent synonym since it reflects a ‘hold’ of something or ‘grip’ to understand. Today, these synonyms are used frequently due to the dominancy of US and UK English all across the world, which have replaced words like ‘fathom’ and taught them their own spoken words.


Adams, V., (2016). An introduction to modern English word-formation. Routledge.

Bernaisch, T. and Koch, C., (2016). Attitudes towards englishes in India. World Englishes, 35(1), pp.118-132.

Manova, S., 2015. Affix order and the structure of the Slavic word. Affix ordering across languages and frameworks, pp.205-229.

Altenbek, G. and Xiao-long, W.A.N.G., 2010. Kazakh segmentation system of inflectional affixes. In Proceedings of CIPS-SIGHAN Joint Conference on Chinese Language Processing (pp. 183-190).

Smakman, D., (2012). The definition of the standard language: a survey in seven countries.

Keuleers, E., Lacey, P., Rastle, K. and Brysbaert, M., (2012). The British Lexicon Project: Lexical decision data for 28,730 monosyllabic and disyllabic English words. Behavior research methods, 44(1), pp.287-304.

Newnham, D., (2007). The mysteries of sleep are hard to fathom. Nursing Standard, 21(28), pp.28-29.

Open University U214/Toolkit and North, S., (2012). English: A Linguistic Toolkit. Open University.

Oxford English Dictionary (2013a) ‘fathom, adj., adv., and n.’ [Online]. Available at http://www.oed.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/ view/ Entry/ 67168 (Accessed 10 November 2018).

Oxford English Dictionary (2013b) ‘fathomed, adj. and n.’ [Online]. Available at http://www.oed.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/ view/ Entry/ 66975 (Accessed 10 November 2018).

Oxford English Dictionary (2013c) ‘fathoming, adv.’ [Online]. Available at http://www.oed.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/ view/ Entry/ 67170 (Accessed 10 November 2018).

Oxford English Dictionary (2013d) ‘fathomless, n.’ [Online]. Available at http://www.oed.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/ view/ Entry/ 67175 (Accessed 10 November 2018).

Oxford English Dictionary (2013e) ‘fathomed, adj.’ [Online]. Available at http://www.oed.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/ view/ Entry/ 191244 (Accessed 10 November 2018).

Seargeant, P. and Swann, J. eds., (2013). English in the world: history, diversity, change. Routledge.

Frequently Asked Questions

To structure an undergraduate linguistic assignment:
1. Start with an introduction.
2. Present your research question or topic.
3. Provide background information.
4. Analyze relevant theories and literature.
5. Present your methodology.
6. Discuss findings and analysis.
7. Conclude and end with a summary and references.

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