Saturday, January 17, 2015

Help with research

If you are an A level English Language teacher, Ian Cushing & Marcello Giovanelli are interested in hearing about the factors that influence your choice of specification for a piece of research they are carrying out.

You can access the survey here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Oh man!

While sitting at home, feeling sorry for myself with a bout of man-flu, this article about a curious phenomenon called manterrupting popped up on Twitter. Apparently, manterrupting is when males interrupt women in meetings and/or co-opt (or bropropriate*) their ideas as their own.


It's a man-word like these explained here by Stan Carey on the MacMillan Dictionaries blog and makes use of the man- prefix that has become so productive in recent years. So far we've had...

  • mansplaining: patronising explanations delivered by men to women of things that women probably already know more about (Urban Dictionary definition here)
  • manspreading: sitting on public transport and spreading one's sweaty flannels in order to secure more seat space (Collins Dictionary definition here)
  • manscaping: removing unsightly body hair to make oneself more attractive (Oxford Dictionaries definition here)
  • manslamming:aggressive pavement action involving a man barging into people (often women) who he believes to be in his way (explained and illustrated in The Daily Telegraph)

But what others can you can come up with? A couple of possible ones suggested on Twitter have been:

manterpreting: (a male way of interpreting a woman's words...although when @sooze8968 suggested this I perhaps did my own manterpretation of it).
manter: (pointless chat amongst men possibly making them both late for whatever)

Any more?


*And I'm also doing just that, because Sally Flower at Colchester was the first person to mention some of these this week. Anyway, I can't help it: I'm a man and it's in my genes. 


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Slang archive

Following yesterday's post about other top tips for articles about language, Tony Thorne of King's College London sent this link to a whole range of articles he has gathered on the topic of slang. There's plenty there for anyone studying Language Change and Variation at A2 and lots of good stuff to read. Thanks very much, Tony.

Monday, December 22, 2014

2014 round-up

Just in case you missed them, here are some of my favourite links to articles and stories in the world of language from this year. I've grouped them by broad topic areas linked to the AQA A specification.

If you've got other suggestions or ones that I've obviously missed, please tweet me at @EngLangBlog

Words of the year: Language Change (ENGA3) 
From well jel to mahoosive: new words added to Oxford Dictionaries
Ben Zimmer's word vortex - new words of 2014

Language Change (ENGA3)
Everything is 'awesome' (in the Daily Mail) and done much better here by Lynne Murphy
25 years of LOL
10 slang phrases that sum up their era
War of words: how WW2 shaped language
Looking a bit UKIP: how UKIP has started to become a term of abuse.

Swearing and attitudes to it: Language Discourses (ENGA3)
The sweariest place in Britain?
Coprolalia (or potty mouth syndrome) is one of many excellent (but obviously rude) posts on a new blog dedicated to swearing, Strong Language

Technology and Language: Language and Mode (ENGA1); Language Change (ENGA3)
Why fears about texting are misplaced
Texting improves young people's spelling and grammar

Accents, dialects and varieties: Language Variation (ENGA3)
Dialects from Trinidad to Hawaii shaping the English language
Um or er? Why um is growing

Attitudes to 'good' and 'bad' English: Language Discourses (ENGA3)
Why our language prejudices don't make no sense
A plea for linguistic tolerance
What are the 'correct' rules of English grammar?

Gender and language: Language Variation (ENGA3)
Who interrupts whom in the workplace?
Why young women shouldn't have to talk like young men

Language and Representation (ENGA2)
Why the language of domestic violence matters
Sir and Miss: sexist and depressing

And my least favourite article was (of course) from the Daily Fail and its pathetic coverage of the English A levels (in this terrible article) which prompted this angry blog post.

Thanks for following in 2014

Thanks very much to all of you who have used the blog this year and especially if you've also followed via the @EngLangBlog twitter account or given me top tips for articles and links.

2014 has been a very busy year with work projects, so I've not had as much time to post stuff to the blog. Some of that work will become a bit more obvious in the next year with the new A level English Language specification from AQA starting to be taught in September 2015, something that I've been involved in (along with plenty of other people who actually know what they're doing). In the run-up to the new spec being taught, I'm planning a lot of new material (and to rework older material) to help students and teachers with the new topic areas and approaches, so this should start appearing in April and May.

In the meantime, I'll put together a few round-ups of recent tweets and links before doing a few more ENGA1 and ENGA3-related posts in the Spring and Summer terms. Anyway, all the best for Christmas and the New Year. Peace etc.

Friday, November 21, 2014

emagazine English Language conference 2015

In case you haven't already noticed, emagazine is organising its annual conference for students and teachers of English Language A level and some tickets are still available. It's been such a huge success in previous years that it's now taking place over two days in London. The speakers include some of the best and most knowledgeable experts on language (and a Max from Eastenders-lookalike on the Friday who must have bribed his way onto the bill).

For more details, visit this page and to get tickets go here. See you there (on the Friday, at least).

Technology traumas: language discourses for ENGA3

Just a quick post to flag up this nice clip from the excellent Ben Zimmer talking about technology, language and fears about language change. If you're doing your ENGA4 investigation at the moment (and you blinking well should be if I teach you) this is the sort of thing we'll be spending more time on after Christmas as we start to look in more depth at Language Discourses. Meanwhile, if you're an AQA B teacher, this is the sort of debate that will feature on the new AQA English Language spec that's coming in from September 2015.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

F-Bombs for Feminism

With more f-bombs than an English teacher getting a paper cut from a late, U -grade essay, this video from FCKH8 comes with a Parental Advisory sticker as big as your mum. If we'd still been looking for an F in our A-Z of representation, this would have been there.

Fantastic stuff for representation of women, girls and little sparkly princesses in need of rescue...

Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism by FCKH8.com from FCKH8.com on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Representation alphabet

Are you planning your ENGA2 Investigating Representation coursework? Here's an A-Z of ideas for potential topics put together by various members of the English department at Colchester Sixth Form College.

·         Amal Alamuddin’s and George Clooney’s  wedding as an event, or Amal Alamuddin as an individual.
·         British Muslims: how are Britain’s Muslims represented in the media and how do they feel about it, especially with IS claiming to represent their faith?
·         Calypso. What the flip? You’ll be even more gobsmacked when you hear the UKIP Calypso. But have a look at the debate and responses created by this appalling song. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/mike-reads-calypso-car-crash-for-ukip-campaign-9807020.html
·         Disability: are some people with disabilities not worth the minimum wage? How are disabled people represented in the media?
·         Ebola: coverage of the spread of the disease around Africa, Europe and USA.
·         Ferguson (or #Ferguson). The shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer in the US state of Missouri sparked protests and violence. It raises questions about racism, policing and social cohesion http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/michael-brown-shooting
·         Gamer Gate: sexism and misogyny in the world of gaming. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/20/gamergate-internet-toughest-game-woman-enemies
·         Hong Kong: representation of pro-democracy protests and the government’s  response
·         I   Immigration: a political hot potato but often used to whip up prejudice and resentment to gain votes. How is it viewed by those who move to Britain, those already here and why do people think there are far more immigrants than there really are?
·         J   Jennifer Lawrence: how has JenLaw been represented around the great Fappening scandal?
·         Kobane: the Syrian town defended by Kurds against IS. How has the battle been represented? What about the Kurdish women soldiers at the forefront of the fight against IS or the Turkish anarchists who have joined them?
·         Linda Bellingham: coverage of the actor’s illness and death
·         M Marriage: gay marriage and equal marriage. An institution under threat or one being redefined for a new century?
·         Nigel Farage: how did a privately-educated, millionaire, ex-banker manage to cast himself as an outsider voice to the Westminster establishment?
·         Oscar Pistorius: coverage of the athlete’s rise to fame and the trial for shooting his partner, Reeva Steenkamp.
·         P  Kevin Pietersen: cricket scandals are over the newspapers again with Pietersen’s autobiography bowling googlies at his former team-mates.
·         Q Queer politics: how are gay people responding to discrimination against them? The recent kiss-in at a Sainsbury’s in Brighton and the homophobic abuse suffered by two men on a bus in London highlight different social attitudes towards LGBT people.
·         Reeva Steenkamp: how has the woman killed by Oscar Pistorius been represented?
·         Sex education: it’s being discussed again by MPs. When should young people get sex education and will it save their lives, protect their health or turn them into leering, sex-crazed perverts?
·         Trolls: sad, lonely people in need of a hug (https://twitter.com/OwenJones84/status/523909281448755200), or dangerous criminals in need of jail?
·         UKIP: their political rise and the different perceptions of them. Unprincipled Knuckledragging Incompetent Parasites or angry voice of the silent majority?
·         Videogamers: representation of them as a social group
·         W Weather events: storms, hurricanes, climate change and natural disasters
·         Xenophobia: with the rise of UKIP and online halfwits like Britain First, why is fear of foreigners fast becoming such a political issue? Does it reflect genuine hatred of different people around the world or a time of insecurity and confusion in British identity?
·         Y  Malala Yusafzai: Nobel Peace Prize winner, girls’ education campaigner and victim of a Taliban shooting
 Z-list celebs: pick any recent vaguely famous non-entity from a reality show and see what’s happened to them in the press since their moment of glory.