The new way to avoid checking your emails every ten minutes...

Welcome to my blog! On it I'm going to post all the things we cover in class (handouts, youtube vids, useful stuff in the library, revision notes....) so it'll be in one easy to find spot. If you want to ask me anything direct (and that incluldes you, parents) then don't bother emailing me at my gmail address, but do drop me a line at my school address.

Monday 18 July 2016

It's been a while - back with scousers, gypsies and front row skullduggery

Three years, one baby and a new school later, I'm coming back and going to try and blog weekly about things that we've covered in class, plus any other things I notice along the way that you might find helpful. First of all - anyone studying language change seriously needs to read this book here, or at least get involved in the free first chapter. Read the first chapter with two highlighters - the first for things that you've recognised from class / things that make sense, and another highlighter for things you don't understand and want me to clarify.

 Although this was a few weeks ago, I'm still interested in this argument that blew up in a rugby match between England and Wales. England prop Joe Marler called his opposite number Samson Lee "Gypsy boy" during some handbags, and was subsequently charged with misconduct. A lot of old rugby boys have been wheeled out to say the usual: it was nothing, back in the day it would have been settled with fists, the apology was accepted etc etc. But would this be any different if Lee had been black, and Marler referred to that? I've played some ropey amateur level rugby, and nearly lost an eye because of some front row cheating (yeah, thanks, Ilkeston RFC), so verbals really do pale into comparison to what goes on in the front row and in that sense it is easy to see it as nothing.

Context is everything here - 'gypsy' on its own can function as a fair enough adjective, but combine it with the insult 'boy' and it's definitely marking him out as 'other', in the same way racist insults work. I've got no problem with being described as scouse ("that scouse fella over there"), but I get pretty unhappy pretty quickly if it's combined with an insult to mark me out as different to everyone else.

All in all, I'm still not too sure what I make of it all, but it is very interesting to see the speed in which people came out to give PC a time honoured beating - the Telegraph article on its own will make a useful example of the hard time PC gets in the press.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

I've had it.

In a fantastic example of being at least three years behind the average year 10 pupil, check this discussion out about how the everyday full stop has acquired a negative tone. I don't know if this counts as semantic change, more a kind of gaining semantic significance when once there was none. It leads into a neat discussion of how all sorts of punctuation is acquiring or changing meaning, and is worth a look simply for how quickly the comments section descends into rowing, with people threatening icepicks in eyes within a few lines. Remarkable.

Monday 22 July 2013

Summer Jobs

Afternoon all! I've had a few emails from people telling me they won't be in a particular lesson for a particular reason and so forth, so I though it would be a lot easier to simply post here the jobs that I want you to get on with; if you get them done in lesson time then fantastic, if not, then complete them over the summer. First of all, you need to watch the remainder of the episodes of 'The Adventure of English'. Most of you will have done the first two, so the others over 6 weeks isn't too much of a hardship. If you look to the right, you'll see I've listed the episodes in order.

After that, have a listen to this - Professor Jean Aitcheson delivered a few lectures a while ago that explain some of the attitudes to language change much better than I ever could. Make notes on the 'Web of Worries', and have a listen to some of the others if you can't face any more Jeremy Kyle / Cash in the Attic etc etc.
Any problems or questions, drop me a line.
Have a good summer!

EDIT - The link to the coursebook is here - I personally recommend the second hand option - whoever gets the cheapest option (and can prove it) wins a bag of Minstrels.

Monday 15 July 2013

New 13s? Step this way...

It was lovely to meet you all this week, and I'm sure we'll have a riot over the next academic year. This blog is a way for me to sum up what we've done weekly, along with provide electronic copies of handouts, slides, and links to people who know far more about English then I ever could.
So, to sum up this week: We've looked at two of the fundamental principles that I think underpin this course. Firstly, the idea of hierarchies: society is obsessed with putting people into hierarchies, and we see this pattern everywhere in the course. In the extract we looked at it was easy to classify various concepts into either good or bad. Things get a little more nuanced later on, but this is a simple enough place to start.
Secondly, we looked at the model that suggests pressures along the continuum.. Any use of language will be somewhere along the line, and if you can identify and comment on the pressures that act upon that level of formality, then you'll find this course a breeze.
In terms of language variation, we had a brief look at Rastamouse, as it provides us with a neat snapshot into just how angry some people can get about 'other' varieties of English, particularly where children are involved. We'll develop this a lot more later on, but for now, it's worthwhile understanding that there are lots of different attitudes to language change and variation, not all of them good.
Finally, I introduced you to Melvyn Bragg's 'The Adventure of English'. I know it's a tiny bit dry at times, but it does provide a really useful foundation for some of the stuff that we'll see later on. We'll aim to have the first two episodes done and dusted by the end of the week. Click here for episode 1, and here for episode 2.
In the meantime, if you've any problems or questions, then drop me a line at my school account. Don't bother with the Gmail one as that one never gets checked.


Monday 13 May 2013

I am a sad case hexagon addict

Here's a nice homework for you - cut out all of the hexagons that I have emailed you and bring them to the lesson on Wednesday (13D) or Thursday (13C).

Feel free to change (colour code it according to the different subheadings) as much as you like. If you aren't sure what the subheadings are, then simply check out the terminology list that I posted a few weeks ago - the subheadings are in column B.

Next lesson, you'll be given a text and then asked which ideas are applicable. Once you've got all those, then we'll organise them into logical sequences that we can then turn in to an essay. Honestly, it'll be amazing; like teaching off of Waterloo Road.

Once you've done all that, feel free to sort out your summer viewing, and talk to me not of Lost or someother somesuch nonsense - the only thing you should be watching is this - and here's Charlie Brooker to tell you all I'm right.

Any probs, etc etc, send them my way.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Overly prescriptive prescriptivists who are dead inside

When the only answer you've got to someone who argues with you is to point out the flaws in their grammar, then you've lost the argument. This piece in the Guardian looks at the winner of the inaugural 'Bad Grammar' award; a letter written to Michael Gove disagreeing with his plans for curriculum reform.
Check out what sentence parsing superhero Nevile Gwynne had to say on the phrase 'too much too young':

"Presumably they mean something like 'demands too much when children are too young to be ready for so much', but, as worded, it simply is not English," he said. "In that sentence as worded, 'too young' can only be two adverbs, 'too' qualifying the adverb 'young', and 'young' qualifying the verb 'demands', as would, for instance, 'soon' or 'early'. But 'young' is an adjective, and cannot ever be an adverb. And it certainly is not doing the work of an adjective in that sentence, because there is no noun that could be 'understood' and which would turn that sentence into English."

Not English? Please. This is nothing more than petulant error spotting, and tells us more about the people doing the spotting than the quality of the original argument. 

Thursday 25 April 2013

Shared answer 13D

Click here - and get going! I'm going to lock this for editing in a few hours - after that, I'd like you to take the work that you've completed together, and use it for the basis of your own essay. Obviously there'll be bits that you don't like, bits that you want to add, bits that you want to re-order... you get the picture. Also, while  I've got your attention, I'd like you to have a look at all these ideas / concepts / keywords that I've lifted (in order) from this book. Over the next week, it'll be up to you to make sure that you identify anything that you aren't too sure about, and make sure this is taken care of. (I'm not saying buy the book, by the way - but be aware that there are one or two copies floating about).

Edit - the 13C collaborative answer can be found here

Any problems, questions, Bell & Ross watches - send them my way.