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.

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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

Discourse of Resistance

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We’re looking forward to next week’s linguistics research seminar (2pm Wednesday 3 April)

David Wright, from Nottingham Trent University, will be talking about a fascinating aspect of forensic linguistics.  Here’s more information:

“She kept saying no but that didn’t stop me”: discourses of resistance in an online Pick Up Artist forum.

3 April; 2:00-3:00 pm; Lipman Building 121

Abstract:
This paper is a corpus-assisted discourse study of a dataset comprising 26-million-words taken from a popular and publicly accessible ‘Pick-Up Artist’ (PUA) online forum. The analysis of this data finds that the forum provides a unique communicative space in which discourses of sexual resistance and consent are regularly co-constructed in the posts made by members of the community. The discursive patterns identified offer a new perspective on the relationship between resistance and consent thus far explored by forensic linguistics, and suggest that while in the criminal justice system female victims are held to a standard of utmost resistance, what they can often face from assailants is non-relenting, abusive and utmost persistence.

All welcome

There’s a campus map and directions to the campus here:

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/contact-us/

 

Recovering the pioneers of linguistic thought: the case of Susan Stebbing

We are very much looking forward to next week’s linguistic seminar in which Professor Siobhan Chapman, from the University of Liverpool, will discuss the work of the philosopher Susan Stebbing and some of the connections between her work and more recent work in linguistics.

The talk takes place at 2pm on  Wednesday the 6th of March in room 121 of the Lipman Building. There is a campus map and directions to the campus here:

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/contact-us/

All are welcome.

Here is some more information.

‘Recovering the pioneers of linguistic thought: the case of Susan Stebbing’

Time and place:

2-3pm, Wednesday 6 March 2019

Lipman Building, room 121

About the speaker:

Siobhan is a leading researcher on pragmatics, philosophy of language and literary stylistics. Her research has included work which explores connections between work on mid-twentieth century analytic philosophy and later work on pragmatics and linguistics, on pragmatics, and on applications of ideas from pragmatics in literary stylistics. Her publications include ‘Philosophy for Linguists’ (Routledge, 2000), ‘Paul Grice, Philosopher and Linguist’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), and ‘Pragmatic Literary Stylistics’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Abstract:

In this talk I will report on a new research project concerned with work on language by women in the twentieth century. Many women philosophers and logicians made original and potentially significant contributions to linguistic thought which have been overlooked or marginalised for various social and historical reasons. This research project aims to recover and revivify those contributions. As a case study, I will consider some of the writings of Susan Stebbing, an analytic philosopher whose work was well known in her day but is now relatively neglected. Stebbing’s early work focussed on mathematical logic, but she became increasingly interested in the significance of everyday language, and in the social and ideological implications of how it is used in communication, particularly by those in positions of power. These aspects of her work have resonances with discussions of language in present-day linguistics, particularly in the fields of pragmatics and of critical discourse analysis. I will explore the prescience of Stebbing’s innovative writings in relation to some of the ways in which linguists now analyse and critique language in use.

For further information or to ask questions about the event, contact Billy Clark, billy.clark@northumbria.org.uk

 

Power, Politics, Language and the Law

Courtroom Narrative and Legal Meanings Through the Ages

 

The Institute of Humanities Winter Symposium, organised by two of our research groups: English Language & Linguistics; Power and Politics in Language and Literature.

12 December 2018, 2-6pm, Lipman 332

There are still places left for a fascinating afternoon where leading researchers on language and the law will explore courtroom language from the 17th century to the present day.

If you’d like to come, please email Nicci MacLeod to book your place:

nicci.macleod@northumbria.ac.uk

Here is a summary:

Courtroom Narrative and Legal Meanings Through the Ages

This half-day symposium, bringing together scholars from both Law and Linguistics, seeks to elucidate the nature of courtroom language as represented in proceedings from the 17th century through to the present day. A central concern for forensic linguists and researchers of public discourse, courtroom interactions such as those explored by our speakers have also proved to be an object of interest for legal scholars, literature scholars and historians alike. With reference to real-life cases the speakers will illustrate the varied ways in which language both embodies the institutional authority of the law, and maps neatly on to particular ideologies which permeate that institution and, as a result, our lives.

And here are the abstracts:

Advocacy, history, and story in the Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674-1913.

Dr Alison Johnson, University of Leeds

This paper examines advocacy through the records of criminal trials left to us in the Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674-1913 (POB), looking at their value not simply as voices of the past, but just as much of the present, as the traditions of advocacy lie in their roots, and the voices of the advocate are infused by legal practices that are socially and historically constituted. The nearly 200,000 trials in this online resource are too extensive and diverse to tackle as a whole, so, using the methodology that I have developed of creating small sub-corpora in relevant collections (e.g. rape trials of the 18thcentury; a single lawyer’s trials from the 19thcentury; 19thcentury trials with an insanity defence), I illustrate, through vignettes from a range of trials and periods, how distinct advocacies produce different effects: prosecution advocacythat speaks on behalf of the complainant, creative defence advocacythat transforms the prosecution story into one that advantages the defence, the little-discussedjudicial advocacythat sees the judge move from trial manager to co-advocate (with one side), and the risky self-advocacythat sees ordinary people attempting to combine the roles of lawyer and witness. I argue that the complexity of the advocate’s voice is produced through competing forces of dominance and subtlety, explicitness and ambiguity, protection and attack, eloquence and understatement, and restraint and audaciousness; this makes the POBan important source, resource, and reflection of legal voices in society, not only in the 18th and 19th century, but also today.

 . . . 

“As the sun rose…:” Narrative construction in the adversarial courtroom

Dr Kirsty Blewitt, Newcastle University

This research explores how narratives are constructed in the adversarial courtroom system. Data are from two US-based, first degree murder trials concerning the same homicide, where both defendants (who were then husband and wife) were tried separately. Narrative construction referred to the same basic ‘facts’, but differed in their interpretation. Despite this common themes such as time, space, location, responsibility and agency were present in the four versions presented. This study uses a three level conceptualisation of trial interactions, which are; the agenda; macro-level narrative(s); and micro-level interactions. This allows for a contextualised and holistic approach to narrative construction within the trials, as these three elements are seen as being dynamic and reflexive. Narratives are explored drawing on Ricoeur’s (1980) concepts of time and narrative, building on previous conceptualisations of narrative in court (Cotterill, 2003; Heffer, 2005; 2010). Power is viewed through Foucault’s (1982) theory of power relations, and Hutchby’s (1999) discussion of asymmetry in micro-analysis.

 . . .

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’Law through the looking-glass?

Dr Natalie Wortley, Northumbria University

This paper will explore some of the ways in which appeal courts have interpreted key words and phrases in the context of a variety of criminal offences and defences. It will highlight cases in which the courts have assumed a shared understanding of particular words and will consider the potential consequences of such interpretations and assumptions for lawyers, defendants and witnesses/victims. These themes will be developed in the context of cases involving expert witnesses, particularly psychiatrists, where the language of the law may be “out of step with modern psychiatric thinking” (Law Commission, Insanity and Automatism: A Discussion Paper,July 2013).  Measures that are available to assist those who are vulnerable to participate effectively in the criminal process will also be discussed, particularly the adaptation of questioning techniques with a view to ensuring that a witness/defendant is able to give their best evidence.

When and where:

12 December 2018, 2-6pm, Lipman 332

If you’d like to come, please email Nicci MacLeod to book your place:

nicci.macleod@northumbria.ac.uk

 

Where Does The Glottal Stop Start?

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We are very much looking forward to our next Institute of Humanities Research Seminar, which will be delivered on Wednesday 21st November by Professor Jennifer Smith, from the University of Glasgow.

Her talk title is:

Where does the Glottal Stop Start? Community, Caregiver and Child in the Rapid Rise of an Iconic British Variable.

Jennifer is a world-leading researcher in sociolinguistics and on language variation and change. Her projects include very significant work on dialects of Scotland and also on the their relationship to colonial varieties of North America. She also leads the AHRC-funded Scots Syntax Atlas project.

This is sure to be a fascinating talk. It takes place at 4pm in room 121 of the Lipman Building. All welcome.

There is a campus map and directions to the campus here:

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/contact-us/

Here are links to further information on our Humanities research seminars and other Humanities research events

 

Orthography, speech production and perception

Our first Linguistics Research seminar this semester will focus on links between how we write (orthography) and how we perceive and produce speech (phonology).

It will be a fascinating talk so do come along if you are in or near Newcastle and you can make it.

The speaker is Dr. Rebecca Ishaku Musa from Newcastle University.

The talk will take place at 2-3pm in the Lipman Building Room 121

There is a campus map and directions to the campus here:

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/contact-us/

Here is further information:

The effect of L2 English orthographic representations on L1 Tera speakers’ production and perception

Dr Rebecca Ishaku Musa

Abstract

Studies in L2 acquisition of phonology and orthographic input have provided evidence about L2 learners’ phonological development due to orthographic input (e.g. Young-Scholten 2002 and Young-Scholten and Langer 2015). Also, the effects of grapheme-phoneme correspondences leading to non-target like productions (e.g. Rafat 2011 & 2016); and the effects of orthographic representation on pronunciation (e.g. Bassetti 2008 and Bassetti and Atkinson 2015). Studies have also looked at the effect of orthographic exposure leading to epenthesis to resolve complex clusters (e.g. Young-Scholten, Akita and Cross 1999). In this regard, a study was conducted involving L1 Tera (bilingual speakers of Tera/Hausa in Nigeria) learners of L2 English in an experimental study which looked at whether providing L2 English orthographic input would affect the learners underlying representations and in turn their productions.

Data was collected among 73 Tera speaking secondary school students in pre-test and post-test in picture-naming, dictation, ABX epenthesis and reading tasks. Qualitative analysis was conducted using linear phonological operations and rules based on six error categories as follows: vowel epenthesis, consonant cluster reduction, phone substitution, metathesis, loan-word transfer, and orthographic-based errors.

The results revealed transfer from the learners L1 structures which were less complex than the L2 structures resulting in epenthesis of vowels [u] [o] [ɪ] to resolve complex consonat clusters not permitted in their L1, e.g. ’bench’ /benʧ/ → [benʧɪ]; or deletion of segments e.g. ‘lamps’ /lamps/ → [lams]. Also, there was increased effects of orthographic forms due to the complexity of the L2 English grapheme-phoneme correspondences resulting in what Bassetti and Atkinson (2015) refer to as ‘orthography-induced-epenthesis’ e.g. ‘knife’ /naɪf/ → [kinaɪf]. Also metathesis occurred, which is the reordering of words in order to resolve clusters that constitute L1 specific constraints, e.g. ‘desk’ /desk/ → [deks].

 

The language of the lake

alexbellosUrosimage

Today’s puzzle from Alex Bellos in The Guardian requires a range of skills which can be developed in English Language programmes (and in other subjects, including maths).

As Alex says, today’s puzzle is ‘hard, but not impossible’. He also suggests that working on puzzles like this can help you develop the skills needed to find a job with technology firms such as google. That suggestions is based on this article by Sam Gibbs in which he reports thoughts from google’s head of search, Ben Gomes.

Alex’s puzzle is one that has been used in the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad, one of several linguistics olympiads held around the world which then select teams to enter the International Linguistics Olympiad. The UK Linguistics Olympiad has been  very successful with lots of school students taking part each year.

You have until 5pm UK time today to solve it before Alex reveals the answer . . .