English Language Conference
Year 12 English students, myself included, visited the EMC English Language Conference this week as part of their curriculum. They listened to five incredible speakers who discussed their various fields of work in relation to English Language. This began with the Assistant Professor of Stylistics at Nottingham University, Jessica Norledge, diving into aspects of language used within literature, and how it can inform, enrich, and enliven our approach to literary criticism. She delved into some of our history’s greatest pieces of literature including Shakespeare, and analysed his use of language and how it affects our reception of his works.
We next listened to Chris Montgomery, lecturer in dialectology at the University of Sheffield, who discussed accents and how we use them to determine where someone is from. This was followed by listening to forensic linguist Claire Hardaker. Claire researches online aggression, deception, and manipulation, including behaviours such as cyberbullying and trolling, taking a forensic linguist approach based on, what we learnt was called, ‘Corpus linguistic methodology’. We came to understand just how big of a role language can play in determining things as crucial as who a potential murder suspect could be.
Michael Rosen followed on from this, and not only did his wonderful, witty sense of humour have us interested, but also the way in which he analysed texts from the ‘STOP’ sign on a bus to classic nursery rhymes and determined their specific language choices and how it makes them fit for purpose.
The conference ended with robot scientist Emma Byrne posing the question, “Is bad language good for us?” She explored every angle of swearing; why we do it, how we do it, and what it tells us about ourselves, alongside discussing various aspects of scientific studies from the ‘ice-bucket test’ for coping with pain, to the connection between Tourette’s and swearing, to a chimpanzee that swears at her handler in sign language. Emma ultimately came to the conclusion that swearing is in fact good for us. It expresses emotion to their full potential and has a special place in our brains. The EMC English Language Conference was truly captivating, and has taught me so much more about the beauty of our English language, diving into aspects I’ve never even thought about whilst using. I look forward to taking all of this knowledge with me as I continue with my English Language A Level studies.
By Eva Meszarich Year 12