Friday, 14 December 2012

12 English Letters That Didn’t Make the Alphabet

Stretching the definition of 'letters' slightly at times, but still interesting for A2s.

12 English Letters That Didn't Make the Alphabet

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

An Introduction to Functional Grammar on Vimeo

A series of videos — 15-30 mins each — talking through Halliday's systemic functional grammar. Really friendly and accessible with a nice Prezi presentation.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Picturing Metaphors for Reading

This one's a bit long, but it's a great example of an academic paper and uses Lakoff & Johnson's metaphor theory, which I know some A2s use for their research. 

It explores people's (drawn) metaphors for the process of reading, at home and at school; so it's telling about education as well as people's engagement with language.

The Believing Body

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

11 Weirdly Spelled Words

Phonology and history, in one orthographic package.

11 Weirdly Spelled Words—And How They Got That Way

Sent from Zite personalized magazine iPad app.
Available for free in the App Store.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Google Ngram Viewer

The Ngrams web viewer has been updated. This amazing tool allows you to search for word frequencies in Google Books' huge archive of digitised text. You can choose British or American English, choose what period of English you're interested in, and search for several terms which will appear as different coloured frequency lines on the same graph.

New to the search engine is the ability to search by part of speech (word class), as well as other special functions as explained in the link below. They've updated the data to 2012 as well — but you can still find the old 2009 data. Choose your preferred data set from the drop down menu.

There's lots more advice and tips in the blog post:

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Reinventing the book with Shakespeare

Ebooks can become rich collections of resources incorporating text-crunching computation. Here's an example using Shakespeare texts. 

Why a 17th-Century Text Is the Perfect Starting Point for Reinventing the Book

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Britishisation of American English.

Usually it's the other way round... but this article tracks some UK words and phrases that have entered into American usage. Bonus points for use of Google's Ngrams viewer. 

The Britishisation of American English

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

4 Punctuation Marks for Appositives

Okay; this is the sort of thing that gives grammarians a bad name. But if you want to be an effective writer, it's the sort of thing you should take an interest in. 

4 Punctuation Marks for Forming Appositive Phrases

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Thorn and Wynn

When we do language change at A2, we'll come across some letters that used to be in the alphabet but aren't any more. We met one in our discussion of consonants at AS – the 'eth' symbol used for phonemic voiced 'th'. Here are some more, and the comments discussion is informative too. (Unusually for comments discussions...)

The alphabet used to have other letters -- meet two

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Linguistics Podcast from @linguistchris

Linguistics Podcast (@linguistchris)
iTunes has a number of podcasts about a range of subjects. I'm sure you'll be able to find one at least for each of your A Levels. This one is about linguistics, which means it covers much of what we do in English Language, and a few topics of interest which we don't. 
Cover Art

Linguistics Podcast (@linguistchris)

Language Courses

Saturday, 15 September 2012

35 Fossil Words

Nice list of English words with a deep history. Save 'em up for when we do Language Change in the A2 year.

35 Fossil Words

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Copywriting clichés

A copywriter writes advertisements and promotional materials. Here are a few of the cheaper tricks they may use.

No, it won't do. Ten signs a copywriter is on autopilot.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Welcome 2012

Welcome to new English students.

Have a look around here; you'll find useful links on the right, so click through and see what's there. Of special interest for those with a Facebook account is the English@Park Facebook Page - LIKE it immediately and receive updates, useful messages, and a handy way to contact me in off-hours.

You'll also notice a Twitter feed for @parkenglish lower down the page, and the tags for post topics to help you navigate the blog articles. You can use the Search box if you know what you're looking for.

And before you leave, put your EMAIL ADDRESS in the subscribe box at the top! Then you'll get updates hot and fresh to your inbox.

Enjoy your stay!

Monday, 10 September 2012

I, You, He or She?

A very readable account of the choice of point of view in fiction, from the perspective of a writer who does the choosing.

I, You, He or She – Some Thoughts on Point of View

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Functional Grammar

Systemic Functional Grammar is a nicely coherent approach to linguistics which has occupied much of my summer. I'm going to be trialling it as an way of helping to structure the course this year.

This page, from an Australian website, has lots of materials to help you get a grip on SFL. Try the introductory booklet – most of the terms and ideas there will be familiar to A2s, but with some new ways of looking at things, and fitted into an overarching framework that might help make things click.

Editing is Critical

Yeah baby. And critical editing is what we learn to do at A Level. We learn the terminology and we practise.

Learning the Hard Way: Editing is Critical

Friday, 17 August 2012

Unsuck It

A darkly fun glossary of business slang and jargon, put into everyday terms – often with an acerbic edge.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Zombie Nouns

"They cannibalize active verbs, suck the lifeblood from adjectives and substitute abstract entities for human beings." Nice.

Zombie Nouns

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Higgs boson metaphors

You've got to use language to explain science – and when science is all 'quantum' and weird at the fundamental level, you've got to use metaphors. 

Note: 'molasses' is American for 'treacle'.

Higgs boson metaphors as clear as molasses - The Boston Globe

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Thirty words English got from India

English does love to 'borrow' words, especially from places where there is a colonial history.

Thirty words English got from India

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

How to Find Verbs

Trouble figuring out what words count as 'verbs' in a sentence? This page gives some examples, with notes and how-to suggestions.

Not all the terminology here matches what we use in AS Language study, but the ideas are fine.


Monday, 2 July 2012

Student magazines 2012

The second of our student magazines is now up and available on Wordpress - the puntastically-title, Olympic-themed 'Jog On' magazine, which accompanies hard-hitting Olympiskeptical 'Stop:Watch'. Linkage below.

Jog On | The greatest site in all the land!

Stop:Watch | A Publication created by Park English Language Students

Well done to all our budding journalists and cheers to guest editors Corey and Lewis of SQ!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Magazine Activity Team at Work...

Notes, transcripts, earphones and blazing hot copy. Note product placement of SQ. :)

Friday, 22 June 2012

As a Linguist…

Interesting running commentary from a linguistic researcher, with all sortsof puzzles and corners of language under discussion. Nice style model for blog posts too.

As a Linguist… | Observations on language, literature, and other interesting phenomena

The virtual linguist

The virtual linguist has bitesize commentaries on language items in the news and elsewhere.  Worth a browse.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Sound Comparisons

Oh my goodness. More accent material than you can shake a schwa at. This site collects pronunciations and full phonetic transcriptions of a range of words from accents around the UK and the world, in hyperlinekd and clickable charts. /ɔ:səm/.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Visualizing English Word Origins

Colour-coding texts to show their etymology. Love this. 

Ideas Illustrated » Blog Archive » Visualizing English Word Origins

Friday, 15 June 2012

"Humor" for Writers

Many of these are simply gormless. Some are ripped off from stand-up routines. Some are genuinely interesting questions. Some have genuinely enlightening answers. The problem is, which is which?

Humor for Writers – English Language Quirks

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Park Language Twitter feed

You can now follow a Twitter feed for Park Language at @parklanguage:!/parklanguage

As with the Facebook page and the blog, some things will turn up everywhere, some things will be just on one channel. I’ll figure out a working practice as we go. Comments, retweets, @mentions of stuff you find are all welcome.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

The myth of English as a global language

A while since updating. Here's a good read for A2 Language Development...

The myth of English as a global language

Friday, 11 May 2012


Students often want to write about sarcasm in exams. But it's hard to put your finger on what makes something sarcastic, linguistically speaking. Here's an attempt.

Note: suprasegmental features refer to intonation, which we've breezed over since it's hard to show in an examination.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Language and Facebook

After the world's most unsurprising headline, there's some interesting research about language trends in Facebook correlated to social identity.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Jean Berko's Wug Test and more

This page from the CHILDES database has a section with the wug test paper and the set of pics, which we used in class. Also here are the audio samples of language development we listened to, and some other interesting resources for studying langauge development.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Phonological Processes

This speech therapy site has a nice list and explanation of some of the ways in which words can be altered by young children. A follow-up to today's work on Stilwell Peccei's account of child phonology.

Phonological Processes

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Slinging Slang from the Flappers to Rappers

A fun quiz that aims to predict your age based on the slang you use. Slang isn't solely for young people - it's changed over the years, some of it has stuck, and some of it has travelled from region to region. You might be surpried how British slang charts on this American-based test! For Language Change and Language Variation, as well as Presenting Self and the creation of voice in monologues.

Slinging Slang from the Flappers to Rappers - alphaDictionary * Slang Generation Test

Friday, 16 March 2012

The confusing language around programming languages.

What's basically an article offering an erratum for an embarrassing subediting cockup is deftly turned into a comment piece on contemporary language development. Now that's classy. 

The confusing language around programming languages

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Jamaican Creole Texts

Peter Patrick's page of Jamaican Creole examples, with links to other parts of his site, including a useful 'Creoles for Beginners' page. Handy stuff.

Tok Pisin Radio and news

The radio Australia website in Tok Pisin - with written news articles and a live stream of Tok Pisin for your creole/pidgin listening pleasure.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Reith Lectures: Is our language in decay?

Jean Aitchison's article about language change.  Good stuff. TL;DR: What do you mean Too Long Didn't Read? You're an A Level student! Get stuck in there. ;)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Article: Conjunctions.

Exploring conjunctions, using beef and sex. If you're not sure about conjunctions, this article would appear to be the ideal way to learn. I like this site. 

Article: A hotchpotch of reduplication | Macmillan

An obscure-ish but fun way to form words. Kids like it. 

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Young Women Often Trendsetters in Vocal Patterns

Language change happening now, folks, and here's who's leading it. Some phonological change as well as, like, lexical/pragmatic.

Young Women Often Trendsetters in Vocal Patterns

Sunday, 26 February 2012

The History of English - Late Modern English (c. 1800 - Present)

Read and absorb this page if you want a head start on the rest of our language development topic at A2.

This whole website rocks, by the way.

Words in English :: History

A neat summary of key points in the history of the development of the English language.

Pretty good website too, centred around lexical aspects of English - including, but not limited to, word formation and semantic change issues.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Journalism glossary wiki

A useful collection of terms you'll meet as a journalist – some of which I may use when giving editorial comments on AS interview pieces, for example byline, subhead, etc. 

Monday, 20 February 2012

Thoughts on Feedback

A follow-up to this post:

I got some feedback for my first written piece for Sussex University's online journal Excursions. Two reviewers had read the piece, and the editor wrote to me with their comments and required revisions before publication. This led me to reflect on how feedback feels; I've been doing a lot of marking over the last few years – how do I like being on the receiving end?

One of the reviewers was very positive about the piece, and had only a minor typo to fix.  This made me feel good. It was a nice pat on the back.

The other had submitted a detailed version of my work with changes tracked and comments appended – close corrections/suggestions on style and general suggestions for trimming and expanding. In other words: a load of work. Meh, I thought initially. Mission. Do I have to?

But actually, when I got stuck in and read the comments and suggestions, I could see that this reviewer had really engaged with the work. I didn't always agree, but I felt that most changes were reasonable and helpful, and the suggestions were honest responses that deserved consideration. So I did the trimming, dug through my notes to address the suggestions, and put in the time to revise the piece accordingly.

And that actually felt better, once I'd got through the pain barrier. It was a drag initially; it felt like someone was saying: your stuff's not good enough, and there's work to do. But actually it meant: here are some thoughts on how your work can be the best it can be. And that's worth building on.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Willpower and the To-Do List

An article, and related book, about organising all the stuff you've got to do – and making sure you get to actually do it.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Article: Naming the Phonograph

I keep meaning to link to Lists of Note. This one's a doozy: possible names for the phonograph. The thinking process behind deliberate word coinage, right here folks. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Age of Journalism

18th Century journalism; 1990s website.  The styling is horrendous, but the content is handily collected.  Try not to miss the links off to the side here, even though they are scattered in an ad hoc fashion and poorly highlighted.

Dictionaries: The British Library

Here you'll find extracts from, and discussions of, Cawdrey and Johnson, amongst other lexicographers from English history.  You'll see here how I've simplified the story in class somewhat; have a look at others' variants of what a dictionary can be.

Guardian Saturday Interviews Archive

The Guardian's archive of Saturday Interviews - let me know if this link lapses; it's linking to tags on their website.  Quite a range of interviewees here!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

King James Bible Trust

Website celebrating the 400th anniversary of the publication of this extremely important historical English text. This 'Authorised Version' was the main thing people read for hundreds of years. The site has videos, a facsimile of the original text, transcripts, and lots of background info. Have a browse and get a sense of the significance of this text.

Pepys' Diary

Website blogging Samuel Pepys' diary day-by-day. With a searchable archive and background info.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Proper Spelling? Its Tyme to Let Luce!

An interesting argument from Wired magazine about the state of Standard English in the era of the internet. I'd wait till after your A-Levels if you decide they've got it right.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Everything You Thought You Knew About Learning Is Wrong

Well, not everything. But there are some good, and perhaps counterintuitive, study tips here. I thought I was bad for doing 'interleaving', so it's good to hear that this is an effective strategy.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Letters of Note: Thou eunuch of language

Language fight! Issues of language usage, standards, dialect and identity do raise people's hackles. Here's Robert Burns' furious slating of a critic of his Scots dialect.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Great Vowel Shift

Melinda Menzer's very handy GVS site from Furman University - with sound files and widgets as well as diagrams and explanations of the GVS. You don't need to memorise every detail for A Level study - but an awareness of its existence can help explain orthographic changes in texts over time, especially Middle and Early Modern texts.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Plot to Script: This is How I Do It

A detailed account of scripting comics books – with planning, replanting, drafting, redrafting, revisions and more.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

CSUN's Middle English resource

This is a gem of an extract about the transition from Old to Middle English, with lots of excellent examples, practice exercises, explanations and more. Summarises much of the first part of our Language Variation section at A2. CSUN's other resources for their English 400 course are good and readable too.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Nine ways scientists demonstrate they don't understand journalism

One often reads the opposite article – science-savvy writers complaining about the corruption of their discoveries by the brute carvery of journalism – but here is a canny response, defending and justifying the demands of journalistic prose.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The 50 Most Brilliant, Obnoxious, Or Delightfully Sociopathic Facebook Posts Of 2011

I don't know quite how they decided on or classified these particular 50 as the post title claims - but this is a treasure trove of a) LOLs, b) pragmatics, c) rudeness.

Geared towards creative and fiction writers, this blog of quotations from well-known authors includes tips for all genres, including your academic writing. 


Friday, 13 January 2012

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

12 Tips For The Young Games Journalist

Most of these are practical tips about working culture. But I'd draw your attention to tip number 8. :)

12 Tips For The Young Games Journalist

Monday, 9 January 2012

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Thoughts on Writing

In a so-far-rare turn of events, this post will represent a few of my own thoughts on language and writing, rather than linking elsewhere. Of course I'm doing so as a way of procrastinating on writing which I should be doing: a conference review for the Sussex University online journal Excursions.

I'm finding it tricky work, and a useful insight into the challenges presented by my own students, especially in the coursework they're required to do. Perhaps it's because I've had a full weekend of other commitments; but then we all have those. Perhaps it's because this one is to be published, so there's pressure to get it right: it'll be on display, with my name attached, so it matters. Well: so far, so like coursework; there's no taking that back once it's submitted either.

Writing for a journal is perhaps an especially tricky ask. The writing needs to be academic – so, cut those clichés – but nonetheless, to some degree journalistic and readable. Also, you have a word count to consider; so there's pressure to be concise. Again: just like with coursework. Finally, you feel you owe it, in a conference review, to accurately and adequately represent those whose work you are discussing – especially where you spent time talking to them about it in the pub afterwards.

A blog post is, perhaps, not so much of a worry. You can go on as long as you want, within reasonable bounds. A stylistic slip isn't the end of the world; you can always edit the post later.  And the readership is smaller too. (Unless you're John Gruber, for example.)

So writing for my supper helps me to feel my students' pain. But it also reminds me of some core things which I've posted articles about earlier today: getting every piece of punctuation right is important. Proofreading your work is non-negotiable. Planning ahead is the only way you'll get the material covered. And, finally, you can't beat practice.

11 Ways To Use Commas Properly

Neatly worded tips on polishing up your written accuracy. AO1.

11 Ways To Use Commas Properly

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Vintage Ads

What a convenient archive! REAL advertisement messages from THE PAST to YOUR computation device! Be the envy of other linguists with this ECLECTIC collection. Just click the link below and be transported to a world of VINTAGE ADS.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Top artists reveal how to find inspiration

A lengthy – so, skimmable – list of tips, wisdom and suggestions from a range of creative people, including writers of several flavours.

Top artists reveal how to find creative inspiration