The Spoken British National Corpus 2014 (Spoken BNC2014) is now available!

A message from Tony McEnery: Dear all On behalf of Lancaster University and Cambridge University Press, it gives us great pleasure to announce the public release of the Spoken British National Corpus 2014 (Spoken BNC2014). The Spoken BNC2014 contains 11.5 million words of transcribed informal British English conversation, recorded by (mainly English) speakers between the years 2012 and 2016. The situational context of the recordings – casual conversation among friends and family members – is designed to make the corpus broadly comparable to the demographically-sampled component of the original spoken…

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and the language of dystopia

By Chris Townsend George Orwell, who was born on the 25th of June, 1903, has never really fallen out favour with the reading public, but all the same his work is enjoying renewed interest at the moment. This is hardly surprising when you consider the adjective to which he lent his name: ‘Orwellian’, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘Characteristic or suggestive of the writings of George Orwell, esp. of the totalitarian state depicted in his dystopian account of the future, Nineteen Eighty-four’. It’s the dystopian part that feels so current – according…

A spat over language erupts at the World Bank

But arguments over an excess of conjunctions may miss the point A WAR of words has flared up at the World Bank. Paul Romer, its new chief economist, has been stripped of control of the research division. An internal memo claimed that the change was to bring the operations department and research arm closer together. But many think that it was because Mr Romer clashed with staff over the Bank’s writing style. He had demanded shorter, better-written reports. In the most recent spat, Mr Romer questioned the excessive use of…

Influence of English is fading, says EU chief Juncker

By Crispian Balmer | FLORENCE, ITALY European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker took a swipe at Britain on Friday, saying he would not give a speech in English because the language was becoming less significant following Brexit. “Slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe,” Juncker told a conference in Florence before switching into French and drawing applause from his audience of EU officials, local leaders and Italian students. Juncker, who hails from Luxembourg, speaks several European languages fluently and regularly uses English at international gatherings. He said he also…

Toxic words and political discourse

By Graham J Noble | Mar 7, 2017 Anyone who spends time on social media platforms or in the comments sections of any media website has learned that if one expects a civil discussion – better stick to sports. The level of animosity between online political foes has reached almost fever-pitch. Even news stories not directly related to political issues have become fertile ground for bashing President Trump or clobbering Democrats, depending on your point of view. This verbal punching has gradually become more and more toxic. It’s no longer…