Language and Education in French cinema

Tonight’s Linguists at the Movies (@LinguistsMovies) screening is The Class/Entre Les Murs

As explained in an earlier post, the idea of Linguists at the Movies is that everyone who’s interested accesses a film, presses play at the same time and shares thoughts during or after viewing the film using the hashtag #LinguistsMovies. This week’s film is available to rent or buy on amazon prime in the UK.

Tonight’s screening begins at 7.30pm UK time and is hosted by Billy Clark. Here are some advance thoughts from Billy on the film:

. . .

We usually try to avoid spoilers for LinguistsMovies screenings. I’ll try to do that here.

The film is fascinating for lots of reasons, including its exploration of ideas about language, education, class and identity.

It’s an adaptation of a memoir called Entre les murs (the film’s French title) by François Bégaudeau, based on his own experiences as a teacher. Bégaudeau also co-authored the script and plays a version of himself, François Marin, in the film. Many of the parts in the film are played by people who were not professional actors when the film was shot, including most of the students in the school.

For me, the film was initially interesting as it dramatises classroom issues and problems the teacher and students get into as they work together in class. We see largely from the perspective of the teacher and watch things go wrong while naturally (for me at least) thinking about how we might behave in these situations. Most viewers will be critical of at least some of the things the characters (including the teacher Marin) do and of some of the school policies and procedures.

The school is a collège but I’m not sure exactly how old they are and what class they’re in. I think that they’re around 14 and that they will have one more year in the collège before they move up to lycée for the final three years of school. (If anybody knows for sure, please let me know at billy.clark@northumbria.ac.uk)

There have, of course, been lots of French films which are based in schools and explore, often criticially, ideas about French education. If you’d like to read more, one place to start is this article which discusses Entre les Murs and Abdellatif Kechiche’s 2004 film L’Esquive (‘The Dodge’) ( for historical linguists, esquive is related etymologically to the English word skive):

Strand, Dana. 2009. Être et Parler: Being and speaking French in Abdellatif Kechiche’s L’Esquive (2004) and Lauren Cantet’s Entre les murs. Studies in French Cinema 9.3: 259-272.

Strand’s article mentions several other films which came before this one, including Jean Vigo’s (1933) Zéro de Conduite (‘zero for behaviour’), François Truffaut’s (1959) Les 400 Coups (‘the four hundred blows’), Nicolas Philibert’s (2002) Être et Avoir )’to be and to have’) and Michaele Haneke’s (2005) Caché (‘hidden’) (I wrote about Caché myslf a few years ago). Strand focuses on ideas about language and links these to ideas from the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu who, as Strand points out, was very criticial of the French educational system.

There are other films you might think about while watching this one, including Mathieu Kassovitz’s (1995) La Haine (‘hatred’/’hate’) and Céline Sciamma’s (2014) Bande des Filles (‘Girlhood’).

I definitely recommend the film. For me it’s very engaging and moving in positive and negative ways.

There’s one much-discussed scene about the use of the (imperative) subjunctive but the film raises lots of issues about language and its social roles as well as some explicit discussion of lexical semantics and pragmatics and other things.

So please view along if you fancy it and share thoughts either with the hashtag #LinguistsMovies on twitter or in comments here.

Explaining Metonymy

We are looking forward to next week’s online Institute of Humanities research seminar.

Deirdre Wilson (University College London and Centre for the Study of Nature and Mind, Oslo) will be talking on ‘Explaining Metonymy’.

Deirdre is a leading figure in pragmatics and cognitive science. She is a co-founder, with Dan Sperber, of relevance theory, a very influential approach to cognition and communication which has since been applied in a wide range of areas.

The talk is at 16.10 UK time on Wednesday 17th of March.

All welcome.

Email billy.clark@northumbria.ac.uk for the link to join.

Here is an abstract for the talk:

Abstract

For two thousand years, figurative utterances such as metaphor, irony and metonymy have been seen as violations of a pragmatic rule, norm, or maxim of literal, plain speaking, and analysed in terms of arbitrary ‘transfer of meaning’ rules (e.g. ‘In irony, the literal meaning is replaced by its opposite’, ‘In metaphor, the literal meaning is replaced by a related simile or comparison’, or ‘In metonymy, the literal meaning is replaced by an associated attribute or adjunct’). Recently, attempts have been made to provide more explanatory accounts which shed light on why the same types of figurative utterances should arise in culture after culture. While some progress has been made with metaphor and irony, metonymy continues to present a serious challenge. Why should a rational speaker of (1)-(3) expect to be understood as referring to a patient, a customer or a group of people rather than a disease, a dish or a building, respectively, without the aid of arbitrary ‘transfer of meaning’ rules?

(1)       The appendicitis in bed 3 is threatening to write to the newspapers

(2)       Can you take the pepperoni pizza his glass of wine?

(3)       Buckingham Palace is refusing to comment.

In this talk, I will outline a new approach to metonymy (developed jointly with Ingrid Lossius Falkum) which may help to meet this challenge. On this approach, metonymy is a type of neologism, or word coinage, and is understood in exactly the same way as other types of word coinage, needing no special ‘transfer of meaning’ rules or mechanisms.

Language and Linguistics Seminars at Northumbria

We have an exciting line-up in our Language and Linguistics research seminar series this semester.

Like many others, we’ve been enjoying the opportunity to join seminars online and to welcome online visitors to our events this year.

All are welcome to these.

Email billy.clark@northumbria.ac.uk for more information.

We’ll let you know if there any additions to the programme,


Northumbria Language and Linguistics Research Seminars Semester 2 2020-2021

12/03/2021 – 16:00-17:00
Sarah Kelly – University College Dublin    
“Examining the linguistic properties of threatening communications”  

Click here to join the meeting 

17/03/2021 – 16:10-17:30 – Joint seminar with the Institute of Humanities
Deirdre Wilson – University College London
“Explaining Metonymy”  

Click here to join the meeting 

23/04/2021 – 16:00-16:45
Sameeha Al Ahmadi – Northumbria University
“The Effect of Gender on the Nativisation and Lexical Density of Tweets by Saudi Bloggers: A Corpus Based Study “ 

Click here to join the meeting 

30/04/2021 – 16:00-17:10
Kingsley Ugwuanyi  – Northumbria University
“Linguistic ownership among speakers of Nigerian English”, 

Judith Taylor – Northumbria University
“Evaluations, impressions, and affiliations; measuring language regard amongst gen-Z Geordies” 

Click here to join the meeting 

07/05/2021 – 16:00-17:00
Sarah Duffy – Northumbria University
“Winter is coming… or are we coming up to winter? An exploration of two contrasting perspectives on time”  

Click here to join the meeting 

19/05/2021 – 16:10-17:30  – Joint seminar with Institute of Humanities
Louise Pybus – Northumbria University
“Language, identity and the school curriculum: challenges and opportunities for students with EAL in rural secondary school contexts” 

Linguists at the Movies

During lockdown this summer, a few linguists (including Billy Clark from Northumbria) launched a twitter feed which we use to watch movies together and to comment on them during or after screening.

We announce the films and where they can be streamed or downloaded from in advance and then anybody who wants to join in presses ‘play’ at the same time.

The viewings are every second Monday at 7pm UK time.

Anybody can join us. There’s no need to be a linguist or a language researcher. And of course there’s no requirement to comment. We just watch a film at the same time and anybody who wants to comment can do so during or after the screening using the hashtag #LinguistsMovies

You can read more about the idea at our twitter feed:

https://twitter.com/LinguistsMovies

and there’s an article about it in Babel magazine here:

Linguists at the Movies in Babel magazine

There’s a review (by Billy) of one of the films we viewed earlier here:

Review of Bodied in Babel magazine

As you’ll see, this film was rated with 2.5 stars (out of 5) for quality and three ‘schwas’ for how its ‘linguistic credentials’.

Tonight (9 November 2020, 7pm UK time) we’ll be viewing Brief Encounter:

Brief Encounter on Linguists at the Movies

It’s an interesting film for lots of reasons, including some insight into language change from the accents and linguistic expressions used by the actors, and also evidence of changing social/cultural assumptions and behaviour (including assumptions about gender roles).

There’s a very interesting discussion by the linguist Paul Baker of the use of gradable adverbs (in this film and elsewhere) here:

Keep calm and use an adverb

Please join us and tell anybody else who you think might be interested!

Email Billy if you have any questions about it:

billy.clark@northumbria.ac.uk

14th Newcastle and Northumbria PG Conference in Linguistics

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Call for Papers

The abstract submission for the 14th Newcastle Northumbria Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics is now open.

This one-day conference will provide an opportunity for linguistics postgraduates to present and discuss their research in an informal and intellectually stimulating setting. The conference will be held on Thursday the 2nd of April 2020.

Submission Guidelines

We would like to invite linguistics postgraduates from all research areas of linguistics, both theoretical and applied, from any institution to submit abstracts for oral and poster presentations.

 

The following submission link leads to an external website, EasyChair. You need to register on EasyChair to be able to submit your abstract.

Submissions link

SUBMIT YOUR ABSTRACT HERE

Abstracts should be no more than 500 words long and a maximum of 1 A4 page of text. References, glossed/transcribed examples, and images can appear on a second page and do not count toward the word limit. Abstracts should be submitted as PDF documents (.pdf) and be fully anonymised, including metadata. All submissions will be anonymously reviewed. Authors may submit a maximum of two abstracts, only one of which may be sole-/first-authored. Acceptance will be conditional on at least one of the authors registering for the conference.

 

Key dates

Abstract submission deadline: 7th February 2020

Extended submission deadline: 10th February 2020

Notification of acceptance: 6th March 2020

Conference registration deadline: 20th March 2020

Contact

Please email general queries to nnpcil@newcastle.ac.uk. If you are having problems with the Easy Chair link please email j.belur-rajeev2@newcastle.com.

Please visit the website for further information:

14th Newcastle & Northumbria Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics

Language, gender and sexism in the House of Commons

 

We are delighted that the next speaker in our Linguistics Research Seminar series at Northumbria will be Dr. Sylvia Shaw, from the University of Westminster.

Sylvia is a leading researcher on language, gender and politics. She has carried out influential research on language and gender in the house of commons (the focus of this talk) and in the devolved political institutions of the UK.

Her co-authored book with Deborah Cameron, Gender, Power and Political Speech, focused on the language of political leaders in the 2015 UK General Election (which makes it essential reading right now).

Her monograph Women, Language and Politics will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2020.

The title of Sylvia’s talk is:

“I meant no harm, Mr. Speaker”: Language, gender and sexism in the house of commons

The talk takes place at 2pm in room 121 in the Lipman Building.

The talk is open to all. We look forward to welcoming visitors and discussing Sylvia’s work.

You can find directions and a campus map herehttps://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/our-campuses/newcastle-city-campus/

If you have any questions about the event, please contact Billy Clark: billy.clark@northumbria.ac.uk

Sociolinguistics and Social Change

We’re delighted to welcome Julia Snell to Northumbria on the 30th of October.

Julia is a leading researcher on a wide range of topics, including children’s language variation, classroom discourse and dialogic pedagogy.

You can find out more about her wide range of projects on Julia’s website at the University of Leeds and about her work with Adam Lefstein on dialogic pedagogy at their Dialogic Pedagogy website

The title of Julia’s talk is:

‘Can sociolinguistic research bring about social change? Addressing critiques of sociolinguistic advocacy’

The talk takes place at 12 noon in room 332 in Lipman Building.

The talk is open to all. We look forward to welcoming visitors and discussing Julia’s work.

You can find directions and a campus map herehttps://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/our-campuses/newcastle-city-campus/

If you have any questions about the event, please contact Billy Clark: billy.clark@northumbria.ac.uk

 

 

 

BAAL Conference 2020 at Northumbria University

NorthumbriaPicture1

We are delighted to be hosting the 2020 BAAL Conference at Northumbria University from the 3rd to the 5th of September 2020.

Further information, including a link for registration, will appear here soon.

Conference Theme: “Challenges and Opportunities in Applied Linguistics”

Plenary Speakers

Pit Corder Lecture

About the Venue

Situated in the North East of England, Northumbria University’s City Campus is located in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne.

For more information on the university and travel directions click here

English Graduate Success Stories

Several of us are excited to be up early to talk to potential students in Clearing this morning.

While waiting for the calls to begin, we’re enjoying reading English graduate stories which are being shared with our colleague @ProfKatyShaw on twitter:

If you’re interested in talking to us about a possible place our Clearing Hotline number is 0800 085 1085

Language, identity and why we shouldn’t be so quick to judge

We are delighted to announce that this year’s Annual Linguistics Lecture will be delivered by Rob Drummond, from Manchester Metropolitan University, on our city campus at 6pm on Thursday the 20th of June.

Rob is an excellent and very engaging speaker. This is guaranteed to be a fun and fascinating talk for anyone interested is language and how the way we speak affects how we understand each other.

The event is free and open to all. Places are limited so book here to make sure you reserve a place:

Eventbrite event page

Time and date: 6pm, 20 June 2019

Location: Lipman Lecture Theatre (Lipman 031), Lipman Building, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST

Directions and campus map: https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/our-campuses/newcastle-city-campus/

Title: Language, identity and why we shouldn’t be so quick to judge

Summary:

Language plays a vital role in making us who we are, certainly in terms of how we are perceived by others. The way we speak provides insights into our social background, proudly announcing some characteristics, and subtly hinting at others. But how much control do we have over the way our speech portrays us? Does our spoken language simply reflect our identities, or does it somehow create them?

This talk explores these questions by drawing on examples from research and from everyday life. It demonstrates the strength of the relationship between language and identity, and highlights how our judgements of others are often led by language. It then asks how fair these judgements are, and whether they say more about us than they do about the person being judged.

RobDrummond_ManchesterVoices

About Rob:

Rob Drummond is Senior Lecturer in Linguistics, and Head of Youth Language at the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies, both at Manchester Metropolitan University. He teaches, researches, and writes about issues to do with language and identity, specialising in the language of young people. His current research project, Manchester Voices, explores the accents, dialects and identities of people across Greater Manchester. Prior to that he worked with young people who had been excluded from mainstream school, and investigated their use of Multicultural Urban British English. Rob regularly appears on television and radio talking about language-related issues, from linguistic pedantry, to politicians’ accents, to language discrimination.

He has published widely, including the books Researching Urban Youth Language and Identity (Palgrave Macmillan 2018) and (with Dan Clayton) Language Diversity and World Englishes (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Find out more at his personal and university websites:

https://www.robdrummond.co.uk

https://www2.mmu.ac.uk/languages/staff/profile/index.php?id=176

Queries and further information: If you have any questions about the event, please contact Billy Clark: billy.clark@northumbria.ac.uk