Two More Linguistics Seminars This Year

We are looking forward to the next two research seminars in our series this year.

The events are online and open to all. We look forward to seeing you there.

30/04/2021 – 16:00-17:20
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 

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

Please note: this list has been updated following the postponement of talks on the 23rd of April and 19th of May

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 

POSTPONED: 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 

POSTPONED: 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

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

 

Exploring English Language at Northumbria

Exploring English Language: A study day at Northumbria University

Northumbria University City Campus

23 January 2019

9.30am to 4.30pm

If you are exploring aspects of English Language at school and would like to find out more about how they are studied at university, come along to spend a day working with leading experts on English Language at Northumbria University.

The topics we will explore include aspects of:

sociolinguistics

forensic linguistics

language meaning

language change

as well as some insights on what it is like to study English Language at university.

The event takes place in the Great Hall, Sutherland Building, on our City Campus in the centre of Newcastle on the 23rd of January 2019 and runs from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Each session will include interactive tasks and space for questions and discussion.

Our speakers include:

Billy Clark

Nicci MacLeod

Robert McKenzie

Phillip Wallage

The event is free but places are limited so please book early by emailing:

billy.clark@northumbria.ac.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