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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Reporting Donald Trump’s Tweets

President Donald Trump continues to provide excellent material for both political and linguistics commentators. His refusal to conform to conventions of public discourse also seems to have had an effect on the way he is reported in the UK. The BBC News report on Saturday 4 March 2017 (10pm news) was remarkable for the way … Continue reading “Reporting Donald Trump’s Tweets”

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Donald Trump’s Inaugural Speech – and Barack Obama’s

Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump asserted his commonality with ‘the ordinary American’ through his use of language: he used a relatively small vocabulary, chose informal grammatical structures, and showed little concern for self-censorship.  In his inaugural address he combined this populism with some of the tropes that are the conventions of political speeches. President Trump’s … Continue reading “Donald Trump’s Inaugural Speech – and Barack Obama’s”

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‘Migrants should learn English’ – A response to the Casey Report

There is a wonderful irony in the country with possibly the worst record in the world for learning languages insisting that migrants to its shores learn English, preferably before they land here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38510628). On the other hand, it’s a no-brainer to point out that people planning to settle in a foreign country will find life … Continue reading “‘Migrants should learn English’ – A response to the Casey Report”

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Trump’s racist and sexist language

Many of the column inches devoted to the US presidential elections focus on ‘the things that Donald Trump says’; the way the President-Elect talks is a cause of concern for many, and his sexist and/or racist language causes particular alarm. In a Panorama programme shown on 14 November 2016, Pastor Frederick Haynes was interviewed saying … Continue reading “Trump’s racist and sexist language”

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Clinton versus Trump: a question of (language) style

So, the first televised debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has taken place. Much has already been written about the two speakers – who scored the most points, who sounded most authoritative, whose gestures were the most statesmanlike, who interrupted who most. As a small contribution to this, I am going to look at … Continue reading “Clinton versus Trump: a question of (language) style”

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