Studying Language

Module code: EN1036
Module co-ordinator: Dr Mel Evans

Language is one of the defining characteristics of the human race, and shapes our everyday interactions, experiences and understanding of the world. As a communication system, it is highly diverse, flexible and adaptable. Varieties of the same languages can be found across geographical spaces, differing between towns, between counties, and across the world. We also use language differently according to context, technology and purpose; consider the differences between poetic language and Twitter. Language can be used to persuade, to promote particular ideologies, and also to counteract them; it is central to our identity, and how we view the identity of others.

In this module, we look at the ways of investigating language that allow us to describe and explain its complexity and its variation. We study and apply a range of approaches to language, focusing on the English Language in particular. This includes:

  • Analysing spoken conversation
  • Identifying bias and prejudice in public news discourse
  • Studying attitudes to language, spoken and written
  • Exploring creativity in language

The module provides you with the essential skills and concepts required to describe and interpret language data drawn from spoken, written and digital media sources. You will learn the principles and priorities of undertaking original language research, how to support your knowledge with secondary materials in the field, and how to present your findings in an academic format. The module will help you to identify and articulate the features and characteristics of different kinds of writing and speech, and to consider their possible effects and consequences in interaction.

Topics covered

  • Accent and dialects
  • Newspaper language and ideologies
  • Language and creativity
  • Language acquisition
  • Language and new media

Learning

  • 10 one-hour lectures
  • 10 one-hour seminars

Assessment

  • Analysis of spoken language data or newspaper discourse (40%)
  • Essay on prescriptivism and language attitudes (60%)