Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The linguistic landscape of North East England


Research on language attitudes and perceptual dialectology has shown that north-east English is one of the most widely recognized and positively evaluated varieties in Britain. There is also a rich tradition of dialect writing associated with the region, and a long history of both ‘folk’ and scholarly attention to local forms of language – for example, it is the only part of England to have a major corpus devoted to it – the Diachronic Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English. However, one element is missing from the otherwise well-charted dialectological terrain. Dr Michael Pearce has addressed this gap in a chapter published in Perspectives on Northern English (Mouton de Gruyter, 2017), which gives an account of localized forms in the ‘linguistic landscape’ (that is, the public display and representation of written language on road signs, advertisements, house names, vehicles, and so on). This first foray into an under-researched aspect of the region’s local linguistic ecology describes and contextualizes a corpus of signs compiled in 2014–15, showing how they draw extensively on a set of features which previous studies have revealed to be enregistered as part of north-east dialect. The implications of the findings are discussed and the – perhaps surprisingly – infrequent appearance of such forms in the linguistic landscape is addressed.
You can read more about Michael's research on the language of the region here.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

'How the hell did this get on tv?'

Professor Angela Smith has given a paper at the Ross Priory Broadcast Talk Seminar. The topic of her paper was nakedness in dating shows; in particular Channel 4’s Naked Attraction. This is a show that opens with the assertion that ‘Online dating has been a complete nightmare […] with the status symbols we wear getting in the way of finding our perfect mate.’  With full nudity, lingering close-ups and graphic descriptions, many viewers took to Twitter to express dismay that the show had made it to mainstream television, and led to the Guardian referring to it as symptomatic of the dystopian media landscape of 2016. Angela's paper will explore how the shock of graphic nudity is ameliorated by the linguistic strategies of positive politeness that all participants seem to collude with. Such amelioration would appear to be a defence against accusations of voyeuristic and pornographic content on mainstream television.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Great Writing Conference 2017

Dr Sarah Dobbs will be giving a paper at the 'Great Writing Conference 2017', to be held at Imperial College, London. She will be exploring three key areas within the filmic representation of Arrival (2016). One, how does the film's fictive space encourage the consideration of the viewers' own motivations in concrete, everyday reality? Two, how do some of the film’s key conceits (such as translating a language and the idea that language may construct identity; the decision to have a child with the knowledge that they will die from a terminal illness) invite our questions about our own perspectives and choices in various aspects of our lives? Finally, if we allow this supposition to stand, how can we be aware of the implications of the constructions of our own fictional narratives and the real-world consequences of these?

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SURE: Research from the University of Sunderland