Write a 1,000-word report on one of the topics listed below. The list of references is not included in the word count.
In your report, you must identify the source of any information you have gained from someone else’s work, both at the point at which you mention the information in your essay and in the list of references at the end of the essay. Failure to do so constitutes bad academic practice or plagiarism. For all English Language assessments, you are expected to use the Harvard citation and referencing style. For further information, see the Harvard guide that is available on the module site (see All module materials>Module and programme handbooks and other general documents).
All reports are expected to refer to a minimum of two scholarly sources (not including data sources).
Formatting: your report should be double-spaced and in a font of at least 12 points. Please use italics to mark any linguistic expressions that refer to the linguistic unit itself (e.g. the word scone).
1. Lexical history
• Pick a 10-year time period between 1700 and 2010 and use the Oxford English Dictionary Online Advanced search facility to identify new words that entered the English language during this time. What do these words tell you about the wider historical and social context of the time period in question?
• What semantic fields do the new words belong to (e.g. sciences, politics, military…)? (Try clicking on the ‘Subject’ heading under ‘Refine your search’ on the results page’ for a basic semantic classification). Are there particular semantic fields that a large proportion of the new words relate to? If so, why did such words enter the lexicon at this time?
• Where did these words come from? Were any borrowed from other languages? If so, why were they borrowed? What was the nature of the contact between English and the other languages?
• If the words were not borrowed, did they enter the language through general word-formation processes? Give examples of different types of processes (compounding, derivation etc.).
• You are by no means expected to discuss all the new words from that time period individually, but rather identify general trends.
• Your report should tell a coherent story about the lexical history of your chosen decade. So even if you discuss various different sources of words and preoccupations of the era, aim to structure your discussion so that the different issues and topics are linked by a common thread.
2. Regional differences
• Discuss either the existence of regional variation in phonology or in lexical items in British English accents/dialects.
• If you choose phonology, you should consider specific differences between British English accents, such as the pronunciation of the vowel in words like bath and grass or the word-final /ŋ/ in words like swimming.
• If you choose lexical items, consider differences in the words that are used to refer to a particular object or concept (e.g. the meals of the day, slang terms for ‘good’ or ‘drunk’ etc.)
• You don’t have to cover all British accents/dialects, but you should demonstrate differences between at least two locations. These may be towns or cities (e.g. London vs. Leicester vs. Bristol) or larger areas (e.g. North vs. South or East Midlands vs. West Midlands).
• Your illustration of the differences can be based on data from existing dialect surveys (see the books on British accents and dialects on the module resource list).
• As part of your discussion, you can also consider to what extent the regional variation recorded in your sources (which may be a few years old) is still current in Present-day English.
3. English as a global language
• Pick a particular variety of World English (e.g. Australian, Indian, Singapore, South African English etc.). Provide a description of some of the distinctive linguistic characteristics of that variety. This may include:
o Pronunciation (i.e., describe how the accent of this World English variety differs from British English)
o Lexicon (give examples of specific words that belong to this variety)
o Grammar (describe specific grammatical structures that are characteristic of this variety of English).
• As your source of information, you can use any of the following:
o Existing descriptions of varieties of Word English (see resources in the library and reputable online sources)
o Your own phonological analyses of audio recordings of speakers of the variety. You can use recordings found online – see e.g. the International Dialects of English Archive (http://www.dialectsarchive.com/).
o Your own analyses of real texts (e.g. online newspaper articles, blogs, tweets etc.) written by native speakers of that variety. You can use this to illustrate distinctive lexical and grammatical usages.
o The Oxford English Dictionary Advanced search, which allows you to search for words that belong to a particular region (e.g. Australia, India etc.). If you wish, you may also discuss words from your chosen variety that have also been adopted by British English and consider why those words have come to be used in BrE.
• You are not expected to provide a comprehensive discussion of all the distinctive features of your chosen variety. Instead, focus on characteristics that you consider to be distinctive of this particular World English.
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