Monday, May 26, 2014

ENGA3 June 2014 - revision tips part 2

Today, we will have a quick look at Section A Language Change questions. The last two ENGA3 exams have used pairs of texts in this section of the paper. So, last June we had an advert from the 19th Century to look at alongside a Caffe Nero webpage*. The January paper of that year (the last time a January paper was set) had a rugby match report from The Scotsman in the 19th Century alongside a web version of The Scotsman reviewing a similar game.

While it's quite possible that such a question will turn up again, there's a chance it might be a different type of question, so be prepared. Political Correctness is an interesting topic for Language Change as it is the kind of "change from above" that we rarely see (or at least, rarely see working) in English. To revise this topic you might want to think about some of the reasons why words become viewed as offensive - how they pejorate and how changes in society lead to different meanings being viewed as offensive. A good case study of course is gay and the coverage of its changing meanings here might help. Elsewhere, there's a fair bit on the blog from years ago about words such as spastic, mad and coloured, so have a look through the old articles for some good ideas.

Another type of question might focus on how a more recent text uses language and how that reflects a changing aspect of modern language, perhaps technology, popular culture or youth fashions. Again, we've covered these areas in the past, so articles like this one on youth slang or this one on slang through through the decades might be worth a read. Remember, you're encouraged to use your own studies and knowledge on this paper, so come equipped with plenty of examples of language change in action; Kerry Maxwell's Buzzwords is a great place to look. Examiners like to see new and original examples, rather than the same ones year in year out.

Whatever happens, the chances are your second bullet point will be asking you to address ideas around how and why language changes, so you should be prepared to think about the big drivers of language change and the processes that lead to change taking place. This link from the I Love English Language blog is handy for some useful theories and concepts.


*For the benefit of any Daily Mail "journalists" reading this, that was a demanding 19th Century text alongside a modern webpage, not a question "simply asking students to analyse the language of the Caffe Nero website". Got that?

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