Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Investigation ideas 1 - Team GB

This is the first of a series of short posts on Language Investigations to kick start some thinking on recent language issues in the news that might be worthy of investigation for the A2 coursework project, or possibly the ENGA2 Investigating Representations unit on the new spec.

Yesterday's Labour Party conference has had blanket coverage in the media, maybe because lots of media pundits expected Gordon Brown to fall flat on his face and be booed from the stage, but the coverage has been largely positive. His wife, Sarah Brown is also reported on quite favourably in many papers, while Brown's erstwhile leadership rival, David Milliband suffers a few digs.

So what could be done with this for an investigation? On one level, the different representations of the Browns and Milliband could make for a solid investigation, where lexical, semantic, grammatical and pragmatic frameworks could be applied to pull apart how they are presented to us. On another level, a corpus analysis could be carried out on some of the speeches. The frequency of terms like Labour, Tony, I, Britain, Cameron might be explored by feeding a digital copy of one of the speeches into something like Teachit's word cruncher software and then examining how many times the words appear and what they are appearing with.

The Guardian already has a running total of how many times certain words were used, so this could be a start:

I/I'm/My = 121
Britain = 25
Fair = 20
Labour = 20
NHS = 15
Conservatives = 10
Tough = 10
Together = 9
Markets = 5
Serious = 4
New Labour = 3
Harry Potter = 1
Tony = 1
Iraq = 1
Afghanistan = 1
Sorry = 0

The speech itself is here.

Black British English vs MLE

The latest episode of Lexis is out and it features an interview with Ife Thompson about lots of issues connected to Black British English, i...