Sunday, June 27, 2004

Windows on the World

Like an England penalty-taker, I missed a couple of crucial blogging moments last week. Indeed, they were all Euro 2004 related - first, while Rooney-mania swept the land, a piece in The Times purporting to elucidate the young striker's Scouse dialect; and afterwards, as the St George flags were furled for another couple of years, a rash of dreadful puns playing on the similarity between the shortened form of refereeing and the present continuous verb form of the F word. Read 'em and weep.

Lern Yerself Roon!

Reffing Hell

But, that's all last week's news, and as I watch for camera close-ups in the remaining matches to see what language the players are swearing in, I thought we might continue our discussion of English as a global language. Is its relentless roll around the globe a good thing, ending Babel and facilitating communication and understanding on a scale never known before? Or is it a bad thing, crushing every smaller, more delicate language in its path, ending countless centuries of cultural heritage? If language and thought are related, isn't a monolingual world a disaster?

Check out the article below and post me your thoughts.

They're talking our language

Monday, June 14, 2004

And getting dafter?...

At this time of year, the thoughts of many a beach-bound AS Level English Language student will turn to the future.

"I can't spend the rest of my life doing this", they say, reaching with one hand for the suntan cream, turning a sausage on the barbie with the other.

"I must get back to studying; I must think about my glittering future career. But oh, what shall I do?"

Well, here's my top careers tip of the week: have you thought about copywriting? That's a particular kind of work in the field of advertising that you can read all about on the link below, but in case you are in any doubt whatsoever as to why people with good writing skills are needed, you must read this week's main post "The World's Craziest Advice".

This choice item comes from The Mirror, obviously a bit short of other news. It gives all kinds of examples, from product packaging, signs and other kinds of advertising material. Some of it is interesting for the insights it gives about the "interlanguage" that learners of English use. Lots of the examples given show interesting perspectives on the pragmatic assumptions the writers make about their audiences (mostly that we are all stupid beyond belief!!...).

Check out the links then come back and vote for your favourite - and let me know any others you have spotted, and where.

The World's Craziest Advice

Copywriting as a career


Saturday, June 05, 2004

And now for something very daft...

Oh, once more, I must sing a hymn of glorious praise to the wonders of technology. I would like to read a serious newspaper every day, but I don't - well, except at the weekend, when I read it cover to cover. But it is, of course, important for a citizen of the world to keep abreast of current affairs and so The Guardian's email news service "The Wrap" is perfect. This is a 1000 word summary of the key stories from across the full range of daily newspapers - not too much, not too little, and links to the full stories if you want to read more.

But the best thing about "The Wrap" is that the journalists who compile it have an excellent sense of the quirky wit of their audience, and therefore include some of the funnier items from the red tops. And so, this week, I am able to bring you the story from The Sun of the latest research into the regional accents of Britain's duck population. Yep, you read it right the first time - Britain's ducks!!

What is interesting, in a mildly surreal way, is that in the human population there is considerable research evidence to suggest that accents and dialects are "levelling". That is, the differences between them are becoming less significant. There is much debate about whether Estuary English is replacing Received Pronunciation as the powerful spoken variety of English. Yet none of these debates are explored in relation to ducks!

Check out the link to The Sun, check out the link to Paul Kerswill's discussion of accent and dialect issues on Andrew Moore's website, then come back and tell me this:

Will the ducks of the future be quacking in Estuary English or not?........

Duck quack has an accent

The following link will take you to Andrew Moore's homepage. Once there, click on English Language A Level at the top; then click on Language and Society at the top; then click on "go to paper on dialect levelling and received pronunciation by Paul Kerswill"

Dialect levelling and Received Pronunciation