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.

Thursday 8 December 2011

General updates, nothing special...

Right then - to start at the start...
First up is a link that Lauren found, that neatly sums up a lot of the revision for ENGB3. Obviously, because it is helpful, it is quite securely behind the firewall, so you'll have to access it from home. You can find that beast here.
Also helpfully provided is an answer to your most recent homework; don't get me wrong, we could definitely wring a few more marks out of it (in all AOs), but it's a good place to start.

Friday 18 November 2011

A2 Conference

I'm going to try my hardest to make this happen - a conference in London on the 6th March. You can have a look at the flyer for it here, and I'll speak to you about it more when I've spoken to them in charge.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Daily Mail solid gold

Kids - don't waste your time on the YouFace or MyTube - simply type in 'Patois' into the Daily Mail site for, literally, minutes of non stop lulz. Here is a great example about the rise of LME, which certainly deserves your attention. I want you to try and spot the Daily Mail's attitude to the rise of LME, as opposed to the explantion given by the linguist half way down.

Friday 11 November 2011

I want to go for a pint with David Crystal

What a legend. What a hero. Find a link here to the iplayer of him speaking on 'The Front Row', or, if you need that DC permanence in your life, get a podcast of it here. It's about 20 minutes in, after a discussion of Leonardo da Vinci, and some singing chap who waffles on a great deal.

 I'm also running a competition, where anyone who links to a useful YouTube video of DC nattering about anything relevant (put the links in the comments section below) automatically wins a delivered cup of tea and muffin next lesson. Guaranteed.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Y13 Model answer

Here you go kids - a model answer provided by the generous Steve Campsall (check out his englishbiz site listed on the right: it's gold). Make sure that anything you add to your existing plan is done in a different colour, so I can see what you originally thought. Happy reading!

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Attitudes to Multi Modal Language

So far, we've looked at the nitty gritty of how multi modal language works - if you can't give me at least six features that you might expect to appear in a multimodal text, then you seriously need to do some swotting up. Next up is attitudes to these variations in language usage. As you'll discover in Y13, attitudes to language change in the media are nearly always negative. So, first up, I want you to read either or both of these articles from The Daily Mail or The Daily Telegraph, that are all to do with Voldemort's reaction to Twitter and the language changes he forecasts will result (Twitter, in case anyone has forgotten, puts limits on characters so your message has to be short, in the same way that text messages had to be as they used to cost 10p a pop years ago).

Well, the first thing I'll direct you to look at is this old counter argument that comes from the Guardian years ago (the essay written by the Scottish schoolkid is a hoax, incidentally). Once you've looked at that and completed the tasks that I've set in class, if you are feeling really brave, have a look at this from the Languagelog blog, which does a fairly useful job of demolishing ideas established in the Mail and Telegraph articles. (Y13s - if your language investigations look like this then I'll be a happy man)

Before I sign off, I'm going to point you in the direction of the fantastic SFX Language blog, which is my go to page when I need articles in the media related to language issues. If you haven't added this to your Google Reader and keep up to date with it, then you'll score less than somebody who has. Simple simple simple.

Finally finally, if anyone is reading this who isn't in my Y12 class, you might be interested to know that according to my Y12s, some of the more obvious MML features are falling out of use. Whereas standard English used to be the language of rules, exam papers and 'the man', it is now the only viable option for articulate 17 year olds who wish to avoid using MML features, and the 'trampiness' that they apparently now connote.

Monday 17 October 2011

Spelling change (or not), and Americanisms

Right then - today we looked at spelling history, and some of the reasons why English spelling is far removed from what it used to sound like. (The sheets you have were written by a guy called Steve Campsall, who runs the rather spiffing site; I'd feel a bit cheeky linking them here and seemingly claiming them as my own, so if you've lost yours come and see me). Trust me - these will help.

Following that, we looked at this old text, and I'm about to point you in the direction of some more just like it.

I really can't believe I haven't pushed the British Library site more than this, but there you are; I'm doing it now. Over half term, set aside an hour to have a good root around. I'll be setting homework from this in the next couple of weeks, but for now, I command you to kill 40 minutes checking this out. Solid gold.

Anyway, from there we started to look at the future of spelling, and the use of American English. To be honest, I reckon it's a little tricky to separate American spellings from American lexis (in terms of a discussion about them becoming more widespread in British English), but I don't think it'll distract you from the point.  Anyhow, start by reading this article here - if you can't tell me what Jean Aitcheson would make of the article then there'll be trouble... (and if you're feeling bone idle, then you can check out the audio version here)

Secondly, have a look at Dan Clayton's take on it, which he covered on his blog, with some excellent points that I'm not going to paraphrase, but do look at the blog Separated by a Common Language that he mentions - some of it might appear a bit steep, but check out the tags on the left hand side and you'll quickly find something that is accessible.

Finally, make sure you check out the infographic about UK and US spelling differences - it's on a previous post because it was my first attempt at embedding code on my blog and....and... please don't judge me. I'm a sad case. I know.

[Infographic provided by]

Miss Atkinson is a rip off

If you are a media student and you haven't seen it yet, than you might want to have a look at Miss Atkinson's media blog. Solid gold- probably a fair bit of crossover, too, if truth be told. Get involved.

Grammar help

You may have noticed me banging on about the IGE , (and prancing about with my iPad, desperately trying to convince people that I'm younger and hipper than I actually am). I've pushed it before, but if you don't have a swish idevice, than you might want to check out the older brother - a grammar guide (originally written for teachers, no less) by Dick Hudson. Extremely relevant and useful, given that I reckon a number of you have spent the last year trying to forget what you learned in Y12. Analysis at a grammatical level is rewarded well at A2 Language Change, so it won't do you any harm to revisit those happy grammar studying days of old. Word classes test on Friday. Enjoy!

Monday 10 October 2011

Dictionaries, Standardisation, and other somesuch stuff

This lesson, we’ll look at the process of standardisation – how language is gradually drawn into the ‘centrifugal middle’.
Don’t forget; since the dawn of forever, humans have displayed a need to establish hierarchies, and one of the ways in which we do this is by the quality of the language they use; think of all the convergence stuff from last year. It follows that there needs to be 'correct' and 'incorrect' ways of using language.

First of all, William Caxton, learn all about him here. I won’t expect you to do the commentary on how the language he uses differs from modern English, but I do want you to have a look at the completed example, as you struggled a little with it the other week in your first attempt. Do have a go at tasks one, two and three, all underneath the tale of the merchant. I’m not going to bang on about him too much, and I expect you to be able to evaluate his technological importance.

Next up – Samuel Johnson! The big dog! (Although, you’ll lose points in a pub quiz for saying he was the first one to list words and their meanings...) When you read pp108-111 in your coursebooks, you might be a bit surprised by Johnson’s ideas about language change – what does he say?

Since the dictionary is generally seen to be the final arbiter in all disputes, how about that Urban Dictionary? Have a read of a useful article about it here. The question is, how much do you agree with Jonathon Green, the slang expert who seems a bit cheesed off that he’s being crowd-sourced out of his title?  You might want to think about the authenticity / reliability of urban dictionary, and especially compare it with the process by which words enter the OED. How do I know the entries in Urban Dictionary are accurate?

After that, have a look at this article that appeared in the Telegraph, concerning the new words that have been accepted into the OED. In particular, have a look at the gold in the comments section, namely from a guy named rolf (if he’s so in love with the old school rules, then why doesn’t he capitalise his name?). Decide for yourself – should the OED attempt to prescribe language usage, or should it attempt to reflect current language use? Also, just to cause a row... should <3 have been included? (To see what the OED have to say about their role as arbiters, check this out – paragraph three gives a neat summing up)
In the back of your minds, you should always be thinking of the diagram in the back of the classroom – does everything we have covered today fit in with our model of moving away from larger authoritarian structures toward a more individualistic one?

Finally finally – if putting your surname into Urban Dictionary doesn’t produce the required lulz, then you may well want to check out the Profanisaurus, as listed on the side of this page. There’s your language change right there, buddy.

Monday 12 September 2011

Not everything is epic

I know it's been a while, and you're all busy remembering all of the stuff we covered at the end of last year, as well as finding the time to watch the next episode of 'The Adventure of English' (we're on to episode 4 now, which is useful, having swerved episode 3, which wasn't that essential).
Anyhow, I said I'd throw this link up, which illustrates quite neatly the life cycle of some words, in this case 'epic'. (Case in point - about 18months ago I made an unnamed rascal in your year recover his book, because he'd scrawled 'EPIC' on it, gritty-urban-street style; yesterday I heard it on an advert for insurance.)
I'm not convinced about his ideas about how words can't change their classes, but I do think the diagram near the bottom of the post makes sense - it's like English teaching, just with more swearing.
Stay tuned near the end of the week - I'll post everything we've done regarding slang, plus a few extra goods for any of you who have done all of the reading.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

New Year 12? You've made the right choice...

Afternoon! If you're reading this, then congratulations for making an excellent choice! Without mucking about, get yourself a gmail account, and then fill out this very short survey that you can find here 


Wednesday 27 July 2011

The blog formerly known as ...English Language @ SFX: Back in the USA

The blog formerly known as ...English Language @ SFX: Back in the USA: "The BBC has curated a veritable gripefest of peeves about American English in response to Matthew Engel's article and broadcast about ..."

Another quality post I've shamelessly swiped from the SFX blog - the language log stuff might be a little steep for a few of you, but do look at the BBC article - in particular, the comments made by Melanie Johnson around 3/4 of the way down; you'll find a neat summary of language change, and you'll be able to figure out the predominant attitudes to language change (in this case, the rise of American English) from the comments made by the people who have contributed. Enjoy!

Thursday 14 July 2011

OED online access

This is really easy, and it is free!

1. Get a library card from the local library (Radcliffe, West Bridgford, wherever)
2. Click on this link here
3. Click on the 'Sign in' tab on the top right hand corner
4. Enter your library card number - it will have a letter at the start, and then have 8 numbers. Older cards have a letter, then 10 numbers - so just enter the letter then the first 8 numbers
5. Enjoy all the etymology you could ever need!

Trust me, you'll be visiting this post again and again come investigation time.

Thursday 7 July 2011


... you're being out-read by a bozz eyed, wonky toothed ginger rottweiler, then something needs to change. To the library!

Aitchison's Reith Lectures

Here you go - here is the iplayer recording of the lecture we listened to here, and just in case you need a hand when writing up your notes, then a transcript is available here.

And...... since you enjoyed the first part so much...... welcome to part 2! Wooooooooo! If you're stuck for something to do on Saturday night, I might humbly suggest the second part of 'The Adventure of English'. This episode is useful, particularly regarding the French and Latin influences on English. Watch it and take notes, please!

Any questions to the usual address etc etc

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Teaching through the medium of Rastamouse? It's the future

Today we started looking at attitudes to language change, focusing on non standard English. Rastamouse is a blinding way to introduce any topic whatsoever, but especially so here. Given that we looked at predominately prescriptive attitudes to language change in the media today, it's not really a surprise that Rastamouse initiated a lot a debate, and this has been covered in great detail (more than I could ever hope to) by Dan Clayton on his blog, which you can find here.

We're going to return to Rastamouse later on in the course (hooray!), but for now, I'll share some of my own observations, and we can discuss them in class tomorrow.

As I see it, kids around here (generally, and it must be pointed out, misguidedly) associate Jamaican culture and accent with cannabis use (if you don't believe me, then check this out), and cannabis use with a shift away from mainstream society (if you don't believe me about this, then simply hang around the post office in the village for around ten minutes after school, but remember some Bonios to placate the rabid, unhinged staffies that will be there, too). Since kids are masters at distancing themselves from the adult mainstream, then it isn't really a surprise that Rastamouse is a big hit, not only with youngsters but with teenagers, too.

Now, one of the most efficient  ways of accepting things into the mainstream is to make a kids' TV show about it... so I'm guessing that in a few years time the Jamaican accent could well have lost any connotations of weed smokin' hipness, and youngsters will have to use other terms to show how different they are from the mainstream - (I'm guessing a new synonym for 'amazing' will be 'Nevin' - you heard it here first).

There are other factors at work here, by the way, such as the rise of London Multicultural English (LME) and suchlike, but that's my tuppence worth, and as I've pointed out above, you'll get a much clearer and general understanding form checking out the articles on the SFX blog.

Anyhow, we also looked at our own use of non standard forms, and looked at how Donald McKinnon categorised attitudes to language - which I can't link to as the firewall is doing a mighty fine job of preventing you from looking at anything useful. These be mighty fine tools for examining exactly why people don't like particular brands of English, so it's worthwhile getting to know these.

We'll carry on with this tomorrow, when we'll be looking at the fuss Prof. Jean Aitchison managed to cause with her Reith Lectures - those descriptivists really are a magnet for abuse...

Finally, I couldn't possibly not link to Rastamouse on iplayer - it'd be rude not to. Fill your boots.

Finally finally - if you're a prescriptivist, you need to bring your blue prescriptivist hat to the next lesson. Likewise for your yellow hat if you are a rocking out descriptivist. No arguments. No excuses. No moaning.

Friday 24 June 2011

Language change - new words

Yesterday we looked at how new words are formed, and some of the technical terms used to describe these. A short PPT with these terms is available here - you might notice that you can edit this document; as part of your (many) homeworks next week I'm going to ask you to add a couple of examples.

We also looked at a couple of newspaper articles; in particular the Times article that summarised some of the words that have come to prominence over the Noughties - you can find that beast here, and you can also find the Telegraph article about word formation here.

Also, while I'm here banging on about word formation, then make sure you sure you check out the spiffing 'i love english language' blog (it's a lot more swish than this one, so get used to being directed there)- it's got a short piece from the Telegraph about the latest entries in to the OED.

Finally, if all of this looks far too serious and boring and blah blah blah, and you want to know what word formation is really all about, then I suggest you check out the Profanisaurus in Viz - after a few entries you'll soon figure out why I couldn't read it out in class...

Direct any problems / whinges about the reading list / fat cheques to the usual address, please!

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Your weekly update - 22/6/11

Morning folks! Thought I'd provide a quick update on what we've done, and where we are going next, so you everyone (including your folks) know what is what.
We started the language change unit today, looking at different types of semantic change, and also how language will always reflect the attitudes and values of the society that produced it - adverts are particularly good for showing this, and you can find all of the adverts that we studied here.
Next lesson we will be looking at all the ways that new words enter the English language, and the different ways that we can categorise them.

In the meantime however, I want you to watch and take notes on Melvyn Bragg's documentary called 'The Adventure of English'. You can start with episode 1, which you can find here. My advice? Saturday night, invite all your friends round, get some cream soda and some quavers, and settle down for all the thrills, spills, chills and kills that Mr Bragg can throw at you. Great stuff. Make a Facebook event out of it.

Homework (your notes from Episode 1: Birth of a Language) due in on the 29th June, please!

Finally - competition time! The first one of you to get one of your folks to leave a comment at the bottom of this post wins a delivered hot beverage of your choice plus muffin, served hot and fresh on Wednesday morning. Guaranteed.

Monday 20 June 2011


Bored? Miserable? Nothing to do?
No problem! Simply buy the new, thrill a minute coursebook for A2, and watch all your boredom disappear, guaranteed!*

*Not a guarantee. Your experience of boredom disappearing may differ. 

English Language @ SFX: The swag-curve model

English Language @ SFX: The swag-curve model: "Slang tends to spread in particular ways. First, a new slang term will appear in the language, perhaps coined by a smallish group of people;..."

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Reading - it's the future

I can see how impressed you all were today when I pointed out the reading you should be doing for the next year! Just to recap, here are the books that I pointed out today, under different sections. Ahem.

Books you have got to read, between now and January. No arguments, no moaning.

David Crystal - A Little Book of Language
                        Texting: The Gr8 Db8
                        Listen  to Your Child
                        The Fight for English
R.L Trask -      Language: The Basics
Bill Bryson -     Mother Tongue

Bonus books you can read for LOLZ, in case you finish all of the above. A little trickier, but still extremely useful:

David Crystal - The English Language
                         Words Words Words
Melvyn Bragg - The Adventure of English
Adrian Beard -  Language Change

And don't forget that David Crystal's Encyclopedia of the English Language is always there, although I certainly wouldn't recommend reading it from cover to cover. The link here is for a slightly older (1995) copy, which is a couple of pounds second hand - might be useful to have knocking around at home. There are copies of the newer, more expensive version in school; one in the library and one in the English office.

Don't think for a moment that I'm expecting you to buy any of these - I've included the links to Amazon just in case you are desperate to read a copy that someone else has, and they're on offer. Just to repeat - you aren't expected to buy any of these books. 

So, in other jobs - revisit Google Reader, and add this blog to the subscriptions, and also add the blogs that are listed to the right of this post (if you haven't already).

Show this blog to your folks - parents are always keen to know what their offspring are up to in lessons, and this will help them keep up with what you are meant to be doing.

Sally and James - click here

Happy reading!

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Morning, folks!

I hope you thoroughly enjoyed the extremely easy paper on Monday! I like, actually, literally LOLLED when I saw the language and gender question, and double ROFLD when I saw the language and power question. Too easy.
Anyhow, I thought I'd give you a bit a reading week in which you can settle down, relax and recharge your batteries before starting on A2, (which we are starting in a few days; the exam for that is in January).
So, thanks to the kindness of the powers that be, I've bought you a heap of books that will need reading before you sit down to your exam. They are living in the library at the moment, (and might not be on the shelves just yet, as Mrs Rogers needs to sort them out), but when they are, I seriously recommend that you get involved.
If the books aren't on the shelves yet, then not to worry - you can check out three articles from the blogs that you can click on to the right of this post! I'll be adding to these as we go along the course, as well as pinching heaps of stuff from them to study in class. Enjoy!