Archive | Linguistics Mar. 2011 RSS feed for this section

Why the British do not have a sense of humor

17 Mar

Paul Francis

Which came first? American English or British English?

We’ve all been there. The essay is due in two days time. You think you have got everything ready to start writing: all the secondary literature has been read, the first coffee of many is steaming in front of you on the desk, Facebook has been checked for any outstanding messages, the BBC website has been verified for any breaking news from Libya which would undoubtedly demand your full attention as a conscientious and caring citizen of the world. Finally, the blank page is loaded up in front of you, daring you to start writing. One last look at Facebook, and at long last you start creating your umpteenth scholarly masterpiece on a topic which has been already been examined (by academics better and brighter than you) even more times than you have felt that depressing sense of excitement at discovering a vacant post-grad table in the library. Continue reading


The life and times of a language

16 Mar

Stuart Burns

Some people call me a pedant, and they may be right. Take language: why can’t people just speak and write English properly? I know I’m not alone in getting bent out of shape when confronted with misplaced apostrophes or glaring spelling mistakes. But, to be frank, who am I to judge? A native English speaker, yes, but does that give me, or any of us, the right to decide what is right and wrong when it comes to language? Continue reading

Animal Lingo

4 Mar

Susannah Peel

So can animals really talk?

Are there really enough differences between human speech and the vocal communication of other animals to say that language is a purely human ability?

Do animals have linguistic abilities comparable to those of humans? This is a question which has provoked a lot of contentious scientific debate, and the one which I am investigating for my thesis. It fascinates me, both from a purely scientific and physiological approach looking at the brain structures involved in spoken language to the philosophical debate on animal awareness. Painting pet portraits on commission I have seen many different attitudes of owners towards their pets; many of whom raise domestic animals in the same way as they would raise a child. Continue reading

Chinese Whispers

2 Mar

Daria Wallace

This is an experiment. I just read something about testing the limits of online translation websites and basically, I wanted to try it for myself. I realise I’m probably preaching to the converted here, but this brought me a lot of enjoyment, not to mention procrastination potential, so I hope you don’t mind me sharing. Continue reading