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 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.