Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The wonders of code-switching

For years I've been getting funny looks when I answer the phone to my mum. Not because I'm saying something strange, but because the person listening can understand only half of the things I say due to unconsciously jumping between two different languages mid sentence. This is commonly known as code-switching. 
In linguistics, code-switching occurs when a speaker alternates between two or more languages. Multilingual speakers (those who are fluent in more than one language) sometimes use elements of multiple languages when in conversation with each other. Therefore code-switching is defined as the use of more than one linguistic variety in a manner consistent with the syntax and phonology of each variety.
There are many types of code switching used. Personally the most common that is used in my house is "Intra-sentential switching" which occurs within a sentence or a clause. For example in a switch between Spanish-English, one could say, "La onda is to fight y jambar." This represents how drastic the switch is and how it could happen any time.
There are many theorists studying the syntactic and morphological patterns of language alternation who conclude that there are certain grammatical rules and specific syntactic boundaries for where code-switching might occur. For more information on that research, search for 'Poplacks model' or 'Matrix language frame model'.

After a simple google search I was produced with 5 reasons why people code switch:
1) Our lizard brains take over
2) We want to fit in
3) We want something 
4) We want to say something in secret (common way of my trying to slyly slag someone off)
5) It's helps up convey a thought

I'd say a very common reason for me switching languages is to say a phrase that just sounds better in a certain language. For an example the French phrase- "Qui court deux lievres a la fois, n'en prend aucun"is sure to sound better in French when the direct translation to English is- "Who runs two hares at once, shall in no way". This shows clearly that the expression will just sound better in French. 

So if you hear someone flipping between languages, they're not doing it for banter, it's an unconscious multi-lingual way of communicating. 

Shaymaa Bani

Sunday, 27 September 2015

How Child Language Acquisition is used in children's programmes.

Tyler Vallance

Children's television shows have changed greatly over a very short space of time, but the content within aimed at children hasn't. Child language acquisition or "Baby Talk" is usually any various speech patterns used by parents or caregivers when communicating with young children, usually involving simplified vocabulary, melodic pitch, repetitive questioning, and a slow or deliberate tempo. I looked at how infant and children's television programmes communicated with with children under the age of 6 on CBeebies which is a sub-channel of the BBC. The channel name itself has been changed to suit infants as there only used to be CBBC (Children's BBC) and now CBeebies is in place for infants, the /I:/ sound within the name makes it stand out to young children because of its slightly higher pitch which therefore attracts the child and gets their attention, the /I:/ sound is used a considerably larger amount of in CBeebies programmes then in CBBC's programmes. This is done to help teach young children by the /I:/ sound being more memorable as its different to most sounds used when forming words and sentences, but also to keep their attention throughout the entirety of the programme. I specifically looked at 'In The Night Garden' and how Baby Talk is used within. When looking for it within the programme it was impossible to miss, with the slow tempo throughout, the rhyming speeches at the beginning and end of the program, and the /I:/ sound placed in every neologism you can find, such as 'Upsie Daisy' and 'Ninki Nonk' I think this is done to keep children's attention but also to entertain them and understand that these made up words are funny and to keep the programme interesting. In The Night Garden is a programme taken place in a toys dream, the show is usually aired at around 6 o'clock each evening which I think is to show children that an imagination is good and going to sleep isn't a bad thing. This programme may also help to get children tired before going to bed because of its slow tempo throughout and the soothing sounds when the narrator gives his lines, there will rarely be a harsh sound when listening to the programme which shows how child language acquisition can be used in a variety of ways and to accomplish different things, such as making a child tired, helping them learn or just as something nice to listen too. I also looked at a show called "Everything's Rosie" which is about a group of animated characters encountering different problems and overcoming them. This is similar to In The Night Garden as this show also uses the /I:/ sound a lot, mainly in characters names, for example "Rosie", "Oakley" and "Holly" this again is to get children's attention, this also has a narrator but he is one of the characters within the programme, the narrator is male with a low melodic tone in his voice, I believe this is done so children can listen and enjoy what is being said as there are again almost no harsh noises within the show to put children off it. I have a few younger siblings so I have seen children's television programmes change over the years and the ways different sounds are used has changed too, narrators are used frequently in younger children's programmes to help them understand what's going on, but almost every word is emphasised in some way, and pronounced with clarity but are not spoken harshly or loudly in contrast to the background noises. Child language acquisition is used throughout children's programmes to help children understand what they are watching, to keep their attention but also to teach them whilst watching when using a specific tempo and melodic pitch in which some speech is delivered in and the /I:/ sound.

The Language of Music Magazines

 In this article, the focal point will be based around the language of rock music based magazines, looking mainly at generic articles about Frank Iero, All Time Low, Green Day and whatever other rock icons you can list, written for 'Kerrang!' and 'Rock Sound' magazines. Firstly, looking at the discourse structure in a bit more detail and in particular of the articles involving the cover story. Within Kerrang!, an article including a write-up of an interview with Frank Iero is nothing less of what you'd read each week, where the length is usually around two pages of A4 paper in very small print in total in order to fit around the large amount of imagery that you see in this magazine… Looking at Rock Sound from the same viewpoint, it was surprising to find that the cover-story article, a summary of an interview with All Time Low, covered around three and a half A4 pages in the same size print. This is very interesting, as up until now, I'd assumed that the magazines were pretty much the same. Now, I assume this difference in length of content is due to the fact that Kerrang! Magazine is released weekly and Rock Sound magazine is released into shops monthly.


 Moving on to the headlines used in these magazines, they contain an odd mixture of seriously raw emotional-based headlines, such as Rock Sound's "FRANK IERO REVEALED! THE SONGS THAT INSPIRED A MUSICAL REVOLUTION" and lighthearted headlines that sound a bit like something your dad would say, such as Kerrang!'s "PIERCE THE VEIL: AMERICA'S HOTTEST BAND FACE THEIR FANS!". These continue throughout the magazine as captions to images, along with the use of covert prestige such as "brodown" (Kerrang!) in order to appear 'down' with the kids that are likely to be reading… Which acts as a brilliant example of how Giles' Theory of Accommodation can be applied to these magazines, whereby the writers of the articles try to converge their way of speaking, or writing in this case, to mirror the way that their target audience of teenagers speak. For example, using fillers in their writing such as "sure" and "boy" in order to break up longer sentences to keep it snappy and interesting.


 Finally, the use of deixis, or language that is context-bound, is very common within the two magazines, using the similar fan-based interviews as an example. Kerrang! carried out a fan-interview with Pierce The Veil in this issue, using the simple phrase "find out just what Mike thinks of Avril Lavigne…" will only be moderately understood in two circumstances: where the reader knows who Mike (Fuentes) is or where the reader was involved in this fan interview (which, luckily for me, I was!). The same sort of thing is found in Rock Sound's fan-interview with Tonight Alive, where they've used slang like "STREWTH!" to introduce the article, which of course is only understood if you're aware of British-Australian slang.


 Katie Plenderleith

All quotes are from Kerrang! Magazine issue 1566 and Rock Sound Magazine issue 199.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Language used in football chants

There are many different chants, sung by the thousands of fans of English football on game day. These chants vary from “We’ve got Di Canio” to “Are you city in disguise?” But I want to explore them more. I want to know who uses them and why?

The first trail I chose to explore was the use of taboo language. Cuss words/phrases often appear in football chants such as “*insert name here* you’re a cunt, *insert name here* *insert name here* you’re a cunt!” The use of taboo language is often used in an attempt to abuse or intimidate an opposing player or group of fans. Similar use of taboo could also be used to abuse an official if a decision went in what would be deemed to be the wrong favour.

Linking to the use of taboo language in football chants, sexual connotations frequently appear. A popular chant amongst fans of Chelsea F.C. is ‘Celery’. A line of this chant is sang “if she don’t cum I’ll tickle her bum with a lump of celery”. Using sexual connotations within chants could support the humour theory of psychic release. Psychic release theory is all to do with terminology and situations seeming funny, as they are often considered rude and inappropriate. Psychic release theory often occurs throughout football songs as there is a sense of diminished responsibility as fans are chanting in large groups.

There is good evidence of many different discourse structures within football chants and songs. Some take a discourse of adjacency pairs. This could be if one fan were to shout a question, and the rest of the fans were to answer. An example of this would be from a very popular arsenal chant which leads “What do we think of Tottenham?” by a single fan, and the rest of the stand would be expected to reply “SHIT!” This adjacency pair would be question-answer. Fans would use chants as an opportunity for everyone to get involved. Also, as the original question would be replied to with a powerful minor sentence, the group of fans would seem intimidating yet again to the opposing fans and players.

One major reason as to why football chants and songs are sang so frequently and powerfully would be to become the hypothetical “twelfth man” This would probably be the most significant reasoning for why they are sang as it is all about supporting the side they support. Many teams have songs which are specifically sang by just their fans. It becomes the song of the club. These kinds of songs are sang during every game by the thousands of avid, loyal fans. Some examples of these kinds of songs in the English Premier League would be ‘You’ll never walk alone”- Liverpool F.C. and “I’m forever blowing bubbles”- West Ham United F.C.

There are many factors which contribute to the language used in football chants, there is no definitive reason as to why they are sang. They have just become a significant part of the beautiful game.


Adam Bartlett

Thursday, 24 September 2015

The Oxford Comma

For several years, there has been a massive debate on the usage of the Oxford, or serial comma.
The Oxford comma is placed before the conjunction of a list, often to rid ambiguity. An example of where a sentence can become ambiguous is the following, 'can you invite Max, a singer and a dancer'. Without the Oxford comma, it is not apparent whether you are being asked to invite only Max, who is a singer and a dancer. Or whether you are being asked to invite Max, a singer, and a dancer. 

The British usually criticise the Americans for invading and manipulating the English Language, but is the Oxford comma the best thing that the Americans have done yet? The Oxford comma is seen as pretentious by the British, but is it really?

There are several style guides which oppose the use of the Oxford comma, such as The Times and The Associated Press. However, many American style guides suggest that the serial comma should be used in all writing. 

There are only two British institutions that recommend the use of the Oxford comma. The first is The Oxford Style Manual and the second is the MHRA Style Guide (Modern Humanities Research Association).

In Britain, the influences of the American culture and language are drifting over and becoming part of our everyday language, so should we adapt to the Americanisms or should we stick with our own style?

Walt Hickney, an owner of a blog found that 57% of people are in favour of the Oxford comma, whilst 43% would rather not have it, showing that people do prefer the use of the Oxford comma.
Roy Peter Clark at the Poynter Institute followed up Hickney's research, and asked people whether they thought that journalists should adopt the Oxford comma, and the Associated Press should include this in their stylebook. To his surprise a whopping 71% of people said that they thought they should make the change. 

The main argument against it is that it looks 'ungrammatical' and 'incorrect,' however surely if readers of texts prefer it and it makes it easier to read, then shouldn't we adopt it?

Through my research, I've found that more people are in support of the Oxford comma than against the use of it, so surely we should be using it, not only does it help people to follow a list, but it also helps to prevent ambiguity which is often common within newspapers. 

Ben Da Silva

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

''How To Talk To A Person With Disabilities Without Sounding Like An A-Hole''

From the Fact-sheet on Persons with Disabilities made by United Nations we can find out that around 15% of the ​world's population, or estimated 1 billion people, live with disabilities. In addition, this figure is still increasing through population growth, medical advances and the ageing process, says the World Health Organization.

At the moment they are the world's largest minority. In that case it's truthful to declaim that minimally every one of us had met one person with any disability. I can accordingly assume that every one of us had the uncomfortable situation while interacting with one of them and trying to figure out how to do it properly.


''One reason is that some people feel sorry for people with disabilities, and assume that they are bitter about their disabilities. This is untrue in many cases. Lots of people with disabilities feel that their lives are enriched by their experiences with disability, and even if given the chance to erase their disability would choose not to.

Another reason that some people are uncomfortable around people with disabilities is that they're afraid that they will "say the wrong thing". However, that's not a big deal to most people with disabilities. What's important is that you respect the person and see them beyond their disability.''

In the movie "I am Sam", the main character, Sam, is an adult with a developmental disability. An initially insensitive attorney says to Sam:

I need that list of names from you—people who can testify that you're a good father despite your handicap. 

I didn't mean your handicap, I meant your disability. [shakes her head] The fact that you're retarded. 

That's not the right word. [exasperated] I don't know what to call you!

To which he replies:

Sam. You can call me Sam. 


As you have seen above, people with disabilities have the same name as other have - HUMAN.

Of course there are various impacts which build our quandary, so…


Of course we can try to solve the problem on our own, but sometimes it's much easier to get appropriate information from the people and right organizations, e.g. charities.

In the day of the internet everything is at hand, so there is nothing between a CLICK and useful guidelines for us. Many of them are even suitable for specific kind of health issue.

General etiquette tips include not only word help. The point of our body language is described as well. As we know from everyday life the ability of interpersonal communication has high significance and it's not as easy as ABC, especially in a unique cases as disabilities are, which should not seem so unique at this times.

If you believe that you might need some kind of easily accessible advices, here are some pages for you to browse:


Say goodbye to your efforts and follow the rules given by them and you will find interacting with people with disabilities less complicated than without them. 

Don't forget to consider that there is always some issue in people's characters, gender, interests etc., which could make our talk much harder and there is no briefing sheet containing instructions about every one of us.


author – Nicole Hartun



Those Bloody Politicians!

Many high profile people and politicians try to be as unique as possible, so that they stand out from the rest. There are many ways one can identify this, especially their linguistic features and how they assert themselves using them. As well as that they use specialist lexis in their field. But for the most part they don’t want to completely alienate themselves from the rest of us, so they try to conform to the public, so that the public don’t think too highly of them and see them as people they can’t connect with.

A great example could be politicians like David Cameron. When speaking he wants to come across as someone powerful yet someone who is connected to the public. The register he uses when speaking is very formal, and his grammar is standard. A great example is from his speech when he won the 2010 General Election where he states “I think we need to sort this out”. Despite the sentence being short, it has an imperative which shows that he wants to take control. But at the same time he tries to conform to us by saying ‘we’ which is an interrogative. In terms of his formality he comes across as well-spoken individual.

Another feature he uses frequently in his speech is the heavy use of ‘I’. This is an indication of the power that he intends to show across by suggesting he can do these things. But as the speech goes on he starts to use ‘we’. By doing this he tries to make the listener feel included. Addressing the reader is a great persuasive method. Other persuasive methods include the list of three. An example is “the strong, the stable and the good”. The Prime Minister may use persuasive methods to try and convince people that his ideas are the best, therefore building a strong leadership. Another important method is the use of specialist lexis. David Cameron mentions terms like ‘government’ and ‘coalition’. These like many examples show that he knows what he is on about, and it proves to people that he takes his field seriously.

At the end of the day politicians will always try to come across as powerful people, which could be the reason why the general public don’t conform to them. But the best politicians are the ones that can speak well and get people listening and approving them. According to Wareing there are three types of power. Political, Personal and Social. Political power is used by politicians, personal power is held by people in their occupation and social power comes from Age, Gender, Race etc.

In conclusion to the overall idea that politicians don’t connect with people, you should first think of the language they use. Politicians like Cameron will use all of these features, making him seem like he is above us and that he holds a large amount of power, but at the same time he sacrifices that connection. Whilst stronger politicians like Blair and Thatcher will set out to connect with people first, ultimately making them more popular. 

Robin Beales

Sunday, 20 September 2015

How to spot a Psychopath

Psychopaths have highly persuasive nonverbal behavior that diverts the listener away from being able to identify the psychopathic nature laying behind. However their manipulation only works to a certain extent as their speech can perhaps indicate psychopathy. Psychopaths can easily conceal the truth through being cunning and manipulative however unconsciously their speech patterns can tell a different story. It makes it hard for people such as criminologists, to establish who is and who isn't a psychopath, as they typically use superficial charm and are pathological liars.  

For example when police interview psychopaths who have committed crimes, there is a tendency for them to describe their crimes in past tense rather than in present. This could suggest that they have a psychological detachment from their crimes showing, in most cases, their lack of empathy and emotion, key characteristics of psychopathy. Perhaps using past tense could also suggest their lack of empathy to their crimes as they don't acknowledge the situation in the present time, as they don't have regret of the crimes they have committed. 

Jeffrey Hancock, a communications professor, analyzed the language of 14 psychopathic murderers and 38 killers, who were not diagnosed with psychopathy. He found that emotional abnormalities can manifest in their speech patterns. He found many psychopaths used casual phrases such as the conjunctions "so", "because" and "since", especially in terms of describing crimes they had committed. He suggested that they used these casual phrases as the crimes were a "logical outcome of a plan". Therefore the crimes were a goal they had to achieve. 

The key to concealing psychopathy is trying to convince the listener that you are sane. Therefore psychopaths use a variety of language features to do so. Firstly they use non-fluency features such as hesitations and fillers such as "uh" and "um" to put on a mask of sanity. By the speech not flowing properly, it suggests that they are sane and cannot remember crimes in detail, whereas in reality they can remember everything they have done clearly. Also they use paralinguistic features such as gestures and facial expressions to make it look like they are sane as they are expressing some form of emotion. Whereas if they didn't make gestures or facial expressions it would suggest that they have a lack of emotion.  

Another thing I have noticed, in terms of criminals who have been diagnosed with psychopathy, is that their language is used as power. More so they use instrumental power, which is shown in many police interviews as they become the dominant participant in the conversations. This means to gain the power and control, they lead the conversation, set the agenda and control the topics that are discussed. This can be illustrated using Fairclough's theory that interactions are 'unequal encounters' and that language choice is created and constrained by certain social 'power' situations, as psychopaths can create power imbalances. 

Kayleigh Morgan


Friday, 11 September 2015

Gender stereotyping in football journalism and commentary

Over the past several decades, gender equality has risen to the front of commonly overlooked problems needing to be addressed. Casual discrimination towards women in media has caused outrage in recent years, particularly in the field of sport.
Women’s football is a sport which has risen in popularity in recent years, most recently due to the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Vancouver. The competition brought with it high media attention, in particular from England and the United States and for 3 weeks, had the attention of the world. This event was handled well in the media and the coverage was widely approved of, however in previous tournaments, there has been clear cases of casual gender discrimination.
In the 2011 finals in Germany, where there was far less media coverage and attention drawn to the tournament, the players consistently had their appearance commented on, such as hairstyles and complexion. When compared to the men’s game it is not unusual to have a players physical appearance noted, but parts of their appearance irrelevant to the game they were playing (such as hair and complexion) are rarely mentioned, if at all.
The media generally classify the Women’s world cup to be less important as the men’s event and therefore give it significantly less coverage. Whilst, in fairness, the recent world cup was widely covered and celebrated, it still had virtually no acknowledgment when compared to the men’s world cup in Brazil the year before. Weeks of build-up, large-scale advertisements seen both on television and around towns and cities and huge celebrity endorsement.
In print journalism, small comments that used to go un-noticed are turning heads due to their underlying implications that men are more capable in sport than women. In an article discussing the success of Jessica Ennis, she was referred to as ‘Recent mother Jessica’. In sports reports for men, their personal and private lives are only mentioned if they’re controversial and even then, the entire article tends to be focused around it, as opposed to it being briefly mentioned.
One case that caused wide-spread outrage and controversy took place after the England women’s team were eliminated from the 2015 Women’s World Cup at the semifinal stage after losing to Japan in heartbreaking fashion. Upon returning home after the tournament’s end, the official England twitter posted a tweet that read:
‘Our #Lionesses go back to being mothers, partners and daughters today, but they have taken on another title – heroes.’
With this message being broadcast to over 1 million followers, the internet reacted furiously and the offensive tweet was deleted within the hour. Several widely-respected figures in the twitter world accused the F.A of sexism and the writer of the tweet was forced to apologize publicly.
This shows that even in the developed time that we live in, there are still clear examples of gender discrimination in the media. The real question is, will sexism still be widely present in 4 years’ time at the next world cup?


James Daniels