Language for a second referendum

At the time of writing, we don’t know whether there will be a second referendum on the UK leaving / staying in the EU, let alone what the questions in that referendum would be. But the possibility of such a ‘people’s vote’ focuses attention on the issues of language and discourse that have surrounded the … Continue reading “Language for a second referendum”

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Talking about the weather

The British love talking about the weather. It’s a stereotype but it’s true. The weather in Britain is constantly changing and season names are a guideline rather than a rule. (A student from a country with a more reliable set of seasons once asked me, in a July of cloud, sun, rain and fluctuating temperatures, … Continue reading “Talking about the weather”

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Women’s voices after childbirth: a feminist dilemma

Research reported in various newspapers indicates that women’s voices become temporarily lower in pitch after they have a baby. Here is the beginning of the press release (dated 30 May 2018) that inspired the newspaper articles: “The pitch of new mothers’ voices temporarily drops after they have had their first baby, according to a new … Continue reading “Women’s voices after childbirth: a feminist dilemma”

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Stephen Hawking, storyteller

In 1988, like thousands of others, I bought a copy of Stephen Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’ (BHT). I stopped understanding it around page 30, but I kept doggedly on to the end, partly in the (vain) hope that I would come to understand it eventually, and partly because, even without that comprehension, the … Continue reading “Stephen Hawking, storyteller”

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Boris Johnson on Brexit

On 13 February 2018, Boris Johnson made a widely-reported speech directed, apparently, at sections of the UK population wishing to remain in the EU or, failing that, to achieve a situation where the UK is technically outside the EU but retains many features of membership. As a self-confessed member of this group I appreciated Mr … Continue reading “Boris Johnson on Brexit”

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What you need to know about Christmas Cracker Jokes

The jokes found inside Christmas crackers are famous for making the family groan as well as laugh. Good Christmas cracker jokes are terrible jokes, but are also innocent. It is said that this brings the family together and is a good leveller. Political jokes like ‘Why was Theresa May sacked as Nativity Manager? She couldn’t … Continue reading “What you need to know about Christmas Cracker Jokes”

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The Language of Teamwork: St Mary’s Hospital March 2017

When a terrorist attack took place in Westminster on 22 March 2017, a BBC television team happened to be filming for a ‘fly on the wall’ documentary at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. The film they made of the hospital personnel preparing for and then treating the badly-injured casualties made for compelling and moving viewing … Continue reading “The Language of Teamwork: St Mary’s Hospital March 2017”

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Three things to say if you want to win a General Election

Politicians are ever more careful and prepared in what they say, even when apparently speaking spontaneously. They use language to shore up their own image, destroy that of their opponents, and to plot out the map of their affiliations. As the election campaign progresses, speech styles are taking their effect. Here are three examples. Firstly, … Continue reading “Three things to say if you want to win a General Election”

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