Friday, September 27, 2013

When autocorrect attacks

The AS English Language course involves a pretty steep learning curve for many students coming from GCSE, what with its terminology, its theories, its terminology and its... err...terminology. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and no, it's not Noam Chomsky dancing with a glo-stick; we'll soon be looking at technology and communication and the ways in which technology offers us scope to communicate in new ways (its affordances) against the limitations that can sometimes be caused by the devices we use and the kittens - sorry, keyboards - we type on (i.e. the constraints of technology).

So, just for a taster of what can happen when technology constrains us more than usual, have a look at this link showing what can happen when autocorrect attacks.

"Prejudice about accents is alive and well."

ITV's Tonight programme last night (available on ITV player) featured some good coverage of attitudes to different accents, including a survey by ComRes into how people rate certain regional varieties. The overall findings suggest that many people still feel that their accent pigeonholes them socially and that prejudice is often rife among some employers towards people with certain accents. As the programme blurb states:

...even in modern Britain, where equality is the new God, prejudice about accents is alive and well. And we often found it thriving most - along the north-south, “us and them” fault-lines of old.
Our research not only shows that more than a quarter of Britons (28%) feel they have been discriminated against because of their regional accent but also, according to another batch of research by the law firm Peninsular, that 80% of employers admit to making discriminating decisions based on regional accents.

As part of ENGA3 we've been looking at language variation and attitudes towards accents and dialects, and many of us will have been running through last summer's assignment on Victoria Coren's take on  George Osborne's downwards convergence towards Morrisons workers,  so this programme is well-timed from that point of view. It also offers plenty of extra ammunition for debate and discussion in the form of the survey results which you can find here on the ITV Tonight website.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Swears wot scare

If you like swearing - and frankly, who doesn't like to have a little swear when George Osborne appears on TV, a puppy does a poo on your favourite shoes, or a cold caller asks you about your pension plans while you're listening to Leeds United concede a 96th minute goal against an inferior team - then have a listen to Stephen Fry's Radio 4 show, Fry's English Delight.

This week he's been exploring the history of the multi-faceted F-word. It's not just a rude word; it's a flexible friend, functioning as a verb, a noun, an adverb and probably every other word class too, in some way or another. But you'll have to get an F-ing move on, because it's only on i-Player for a few more days.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Try being Jewish at a Chelsea match"

Following last year's heated debate about the use of the terms "yids" and "yid army" to describe Tottenham Hotspur's fans, the flames have been fanned further by interventions from both sides.

As The Guardian reports, both the Football Association and David Cameron have waded in, threatening to fine and ban fans on one hand, or to forgive them on the other. David Baddiel (who is Jewish) has also joined in with a provocative and interesting article in The Guardian and a radio discussion with David Aaronovitch (also Jewish) about whether "yid" is a race-hate term or a proud badge of solidarity among Jewish Tottenham fans and their fellow supporters (on this link from about 33 minutes in).

One of Baddiel's key points is that if you're Jewish and have suffered the abuse directed at Jews by some of the minority of racist scumbags from Chelsea, Arsenal and West Ham, you're unlikely to view "yid" as a friendly term, however it appears to be used by Tottenham fans, who are historically seen as a club with a strong Jewish following.

As we discussed back in November 2012, this is a language topic that crops up as part of ENGA3 and could well form a good topic for the Language Intervention part of the ENGA4 coursework. Have a look back at the longer post here to see where it all fits in.