Elaine Vaughan

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What happened when British people were asked to draw the Irish border

Could you draw Ireland's border with Northern Ireland? The border with Northern Ireland has become a major Brexit stumbling block. …

A cut-out-and-keep guide to remaining non-threatening at work

Instead of telling men what to do, ask them what they think. Men love talking about what they think.<p>Never say that you have an idea. You know who had …

Joan of Arc

“i’m awfully glad i’m a beta”: the educational effects of status groups

Thad Domina, Andrew Penner and Emily Penner have a really interesting new paper out in <i>Sociological Science</i>, AKA the official journal of people on my …

Education

Impactful

Anne Curzan, "What to do about 'impactful'?", C<i>hronicle of Higher Education</i>, 7/19/2013:<p>If I were asked to rate new words on a scale from 1-10 based …

Linguistics

Talking while female: an expert guide to the things you definitely should not say

Recent takedowns of women who say things such as ‘I feel like’ and ‘sorry’ got Arwa Mahdawi thinking: what can they utter? Here’s her handy cheat sheet<p>The semantic struggle is real. Every day it gets harder and harder to know whether my vocabulary is inadvertently perpetuating a “growing tyranny of …

Grammar snobs are patronising, pretentious and just plain wrong – video

Why is it that some people feel proud to be called grammar snobs? Mona Chalabi argues that those who correct others’ language are clinging to conventions that are unimportant. She says grammar snobbery is often used to silence those who have less of a voice in society

► VIDEO: So, like, what's up with the Irish accent?

So, like, what's up with the Irish accent?<p>Culture<br>• Feb 18, 2016<p>The way we speak English in Ireland has changed dramatically in the last 25 years. As …

Linguistics

Five reasons we should listen more closely to TV dialogue

People often ask me why I study television dialogue. Behind such a question sometimes lie deep-seated assumptions about the low value of popular …

TV

In with the in crowd: secret languages can confuse, exclude or empower

Argot sits in the forbidden corners of language, where creativity thrives, shrouded by a cloak of linguistic abandon<p>There are between 6,500 and 7,000 languages spoken worldwide. Include argots – the characteristic language of a particular group – and that number climbs ginormously.<p><i>Ginormous</i> itself …

Here's a Gender Breakdown of Dialogue in 30 Disney Movies

Earlier this year, researchers reported that many Disney princesses speak less than the male characters in their own movies. Now a new analysis of …

Inside the pages of the oldest comic in the world

Here’s a good pub quiz question: what was the world’s first comic?<p>If you’ve no idea, don’t feel too foolish. It wasn’t even recognised by experts …

Satire

“I didn’t come to university to study this!” – Students and the Language of Choice

“I didn’t come to university to study this!” I’ve heard that phrase a fair few times over the last ten years, usually from English students grappling …

Students As Consumers: A Serious Mistake

Students with a “consumer mindset” achieve lower grades, according to a paper published recently in <i>Studies in Higher Education</i>. The authors studied …

Pedagogy

Why the new “because” isn’t a preposition (but is actually cooler)

With the recent elevation of “because x” to Word of the Year 2013 (as in <i>because reasons</i>, <i>because awesome</i>), there has been some confusion about how …

Language

What is the most beautiful word in the English language and why?

recherché<p>[r<i>uh</i>-shair-shey; <i>French</i> r<i>uh</i>-sher-shey]<br>adjective<br>1. very rare, exotic, or choice; arcane; obscure<br>2. known only to connoisseurs<br>3. studiedly …

Linguistics

Skating Femininity: Gender Maneuvering in Women’s Roller DerbyJournal of Contemporary Ethnography - Nancy J. Finley, 2010

An Analysis of Pastiche in Art Spiegelman’s [Maus I: My Father Bleeds History]

Art Spiegelman’s <i>Maus</i> revolutionized the perception of comics not only in academia, but also in popular culture. Not only is it the first graphic …

Transmetropolitan: A textual analysis

Transmetropolitan: A textual analysis<p>Let me tell you a story...<p>Comic books, or graphic novels if you prefer, have moved into the mainstream in recent …

Frankenwords: they're alive! But for how long?

Swooshtika, flashpacking, moobs, swaption: English is awash with new portmanteaus. But what determines whether yours will be a buzzword, or a bum word?<p>It seems you can’t open a paper or laptop these days without being ambushed by a new portmanteau word. They cover every walk of life: smirting and …

Quantifying cronuts: Predicting the quality of blends

Constantine Lignos and Hilary Prichard | Last updated: July 06, 2015<p>Coverage<p>Featured in TIME Magazine<p>This research is featured in the July 2015 TIME …

Data Visualization

Back to prep school

Prepositions are such a fundamental part of language that we rarely give them much thought. But given their increasingly cavalier use, perhaps it’s time we did<p>In every field of endeavour, there’s someone grabbing an unfair share of the limelight. In a football team, the strikers and managers …

Journal•Lists

Journal•Lists is a different way of reading. It is designed to recapture the experience of reading historical periodicals, diaries, essays, and …

Genealogy

Being fluent at swearing is a sign of healthy verbal ability

<i>By guest blogger</i> Richard Stephens<br>Swearing is an incredibly versatile aspect of language – take the word “fuck” for example. This highly charged word, …

Language

language: a feminist guide

I created this blog primarily as a vehicle for my own thoughts and opinions, but what I write for it is always informed by other people’s research, …