Thursday, 25 September 2014

Language & Culture talk: Sign Language & Spatiality, 7 Oct

Language and Culture Series 2014/2015

Tuesday 7 October at 17.30
Language Learning Centre, Arts A

John D. Walker, Teaching Fellow in British Sign Language and doctoral student in Social Geography (University of Sussex):

Sign Language and Spatiality

Language and culture is not devoid of place. A land, nation, community enclave or diaspora are examples of spaces where languages are situated and its boundaries imagined.

John will discuss how the relationship between spatiality and sign language are manifested, which explores how the physical landscape is represented in sign language spaces and how deaf cultural norms are embodied in physical spaces. He will also draw on examples from different ideas about language and spatiality, including the linguistics of syntactic/topographical sign spaces, the creation of spaces in the Visual Vernacular art form, the poetry of Dorothy Miles, architectural design in Gallaudet University and the historical and contemporary ‘deaf villages’.

John Walker is a Teaching Fellow at the University of Sussex and a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Brighton. He has developed several projects since he started his career at Sussex, including Hidden Histories/Intercultural Dialogue (using oral history methods to capture unwritten narratives), EuroSign Interpreter (interpreting between two signed languages) and Our Space (developing contemporary spaces with the deaf community). John currently convenes an elective pathway in British Sign Language and Deaf Culture.

Wine will be served from 17.00. All welcome.

Monday, 22 September 2014

ROLLS: 24 September Laura Wright

ROLLS (Research on Languages and Linguistics at Sussex) and CEMMS (Centre for Early Modern and Medieval Studies) research groups are co-hosting a talk this week by Laura Wright (University of Cambridge) who works on mixed-language texts written in Anglo-Norman, Medieval Latin and Middle English. 

For this paper she is talking about Medieval London Mixed-Language Business Writing. The talk will be Wednesday 24 September at 1pm in Jubilee G36 and, as always, is open to everyone.

Friday, 19 September 2014

What's new this (academic) year

Welcome (back) Sussex Linguists!

The campus is warm and gorgeous, the first-years seem to have been absolutely exhausted by Freshers' Week, and the English Language and Linguistics staff are putting the finishing touches on their first-week lectures.

So far, so familiar.  But there are a few new things in our midst that are worth mentioning.

A new face
The first new thing in our midst is actually a person.  Dr John Lonergan has joined us from University College, Dublin, and will be covering for Justyna Robinson during her leave.  John is a sociolinguist specialising in phonetic variation and perceptions of variation, with much of his work concerning Dublin English. He'll be teaching the history and variation modules in year 2, Language and Gender in year 3, and Researching Language in Use at the MA level. In addition, he'll be contributing to two of our new modules and supervising undergraduate dissertations.

So, by the way, we have some new modules on offer.

First year
Structure of English is a spring-term first-year module for joint honours students only. It covers the kind of material that single-honours students cover in Approaches to Grammar and Approaches to Pronunciation, while also making room in joint students' timetables to take the full 30-credit version of Approaches to Meaning and benefit from its academic skills training.  It will be taught this year by John Lonergan and Lynne Cahill.

Second year
We have a new core module for single-honours called Great Ideas about Language. It runs in Autumn and gives an overview of major approaches to language from the 17th century onward, looking at the historical contexts of these ideas and the varying philosophies of linguistics. This module is convened by Lynne Murphy and taught by all staff members.

Third year
Two new options are running, which are available to single- or joint-honours students:

Forensic Linguistics has been designed by Charlotte Taylor to offer a look at language and the law, showing how linguistic study can be put to concrete use in investigative and judicial situations.  Charlotte teaches it in Autumn term.

Contemporary Stylistics is Roberta Piazza's new module. It looks at linguistic approaches to the narrative language of fiction. This seminar-based module runs in Spring term.

We're also for the first time (in the current curriculum) offering elective modules that can be taken by single-honours students in any subject (including English Language and Linguistics)--and we're happy to say that they have recruited well:
  • Language and Technology: Papyrus to Pixels: taught by Lynne Cahill (Autumn)
  • Language, Mind and Brain (an elective version of our popular 3rd year option): again, Lynne Cahill (Spring)
We'll have different English language elective options running next year, with these and the others in rotation. They can be taken by first- or second-year students.

And finally...
New degree title
We love our BA in English Language so much that we're giving it a longer name. Starting with the 2015-16 student entry, the degree will be called BA in English Language and Linguistics.  We feel this name more clearly communicates the ways in which we at Sussex approach our study of the language.

Any questions? We're happy to answer them in the comments here. Or see your academic adviser in office hours to chat about your studies and our programmes.  Happy new academic year!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

What we did on our summer vacation

Summer vacation is the time when students (mostly) vacate the university.  While it's when most of the staff take most of their holiday time, it's also a busy time for us. Here's a bit of what we've been doing since teaching ended in May.

What we did together

Our first conference for A-level English Language teachers took place in June and was a great success, with teachers from many parts of the southeast, our staff, and some of our students taking part. Because of it, we've made more connections with more schools who would like to offer students the opportunity to be mentors for A-level students. There will be more news about that later in the year.

In July, we attended graduation, which always makes us want to throw things:

What the staff has been doing

Lynne Cahill organized, hosted and spoke at the 9th International Workshop on Writing Systems and Literacy, which focused on Orthographic Databases and Lexicons, which took place on 4-5 September at The Keep. Lynne presented work that she'd done with one of our BA graduates, Edward Crook, on the differences in typed and handwritten apology letters and on her own work on orthographic databases: CELEX and PolyOrth: database to lexicons.

Melanie Green was in Helsinki in August for the SKY 2014 symposium on Language Contact: The State of the Art and then in Poland for the Societas Linguistica Europea in September to present work she's done with Miriam Ayafor (Cameroon) and Gabriel Ozón (Sheffield, formerly Sussex) on Valency-changing processes in a contact variety: the evidence from Cameroon Pidgin English.  Melanie and her colleagues have also had success in receiving a British Academy/Leverhulme grant to create a corpus of Cameroon Pidgin English. 

Lynne Murphy gave the guest lecture at the UCL Summer Course in English Phonetics on the topic of British and American Englishes. Here's a tiny bit of it:

In May, she took part in the Brighton Fringe Festival, speaking about The Wonder of Language in the Brighton Spiegeltent, and in June she could be heard talking about dictionaries on BBC Radio 3's The Verb

Roberta Piazza's article on The conceptualisation of place among a group of Irish women travellers has appeared in Discourse & Society. She also travelled to The International Linguistic Association conference in Paris to present Documentaries: between stigma and infotainment in May, and to Budapest to present a paper on Irish Travellers’ identity between stigmatisation and self-image at the CADAAD conference.

Justyna Robinson has started her maternity leave. We're all very happy to welcome the newest little Robinson into the world.

Charlotte Taylor gave her paper A metalanguage analysis of sarcastic and ironic at the 8th International Conference on Politeness in Huddersfield.  The slides from the talk can be seen here. Her article Investigating the representation of migrants in the UK and Italian press has appeared in the International Journal of Corpus Linguistics.

What our students have been doing

Of course, not all students take a break. The MA students were finishing up their dissertations (which we're now reading), and the PhD students continued to get on with it. We're very happy to congratulate Carol O'Neal, whose work on early consonant acquisition in children has allowed her to now be called Dr. Carol O'Neal.

We had the privilege of supporting two Junior Research Associates: undergraduates who did summer research projects, funded by the Doctoral School. Annaliese Bagley has been working on variation in use of x 'kisses' in electronic communication, with the supervision of Lynne C. Rhys Sandow has been looking at the history of prescriptivism in British and American dictionaries, with supervision by Lynne M. We'll share more about their projects and results when they are formally presented in October.

On to 2014-15!

We're looking forward to welcoming new and old students to the campus in the coming weeks. Don't forget to follow us @SussexLinguist on Twitter and to like our Facebook page for more news, information and fun. Our next post will be about our new people, things and activities for the 2014-15 academic year.