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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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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