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Discussion on accents

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 17 Feb 2022, 10:51

I was listening to this podcast while walking to play football today.  


It is an interesting and informative discussion about accents and how they relate to perceptions of people.  It mainly focuses on English but some references are made to other languages.

There are some key points that are relevant for students of L101, in particular.

1 Accents are not neutral.

2 There is nothing intrinsically good or bad about any sound or any accent.  However, they do have social implications.

3 RP is a rare accent.

4 There are accents for most (perhaps all?) languages.  They are not unique to English.

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A language awareness quiz

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This is an intriguing quiz on Open Learn.


I got all parts correct apart from one although a few were guesses.

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David Crystal on Standard English and other varieties

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Wednesday, 8 May 2019, 15:45

This interview is interesting and relevant for several of the courses on language at the Open University.


I find this quotation most interesting "What is Chinese English for me? Chinese English is not somebody learning English from China and getting it wrong.

No, it's somebody learning English from China who is now developing a good command of English but using it to express Chinese concepts and Chinese culture in a way that I would not necessarily understand, because I don't understand Chinese culture, coming from outside it."

Presumably this would include political concepts like "the four modernisations", food terms and educational terms like "gao kao" (the National College Entrance Examinations) as well as historical terms related to Confucianism and Daoism.

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A dialect quiz

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Friday, 15 Feb 2019, 12:28

I have come across this dialect quiz. 


Interestingly, when I tried it, the answer came as the Midlands (I lived in Coventry for the first 11 years of my life) and the north west of England - I did live there for about 5 years but I spent longer in Cambridgeshire, including my secondary school education.

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Language and identity

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Wednesday, 3 Jan 2018, 16:58

This article about an increasing interest in Luxembourgish is quite intriguing and relates to some of the issues discussed on some OU courses, especially L161, "Exploring Languages and Cultures"


One key theme of the article is the ability to have a private language.  As one person says "it expands your view and your children cannot talk in a secret language that you do not understand.”

I have also been reading "Flight" by the Polish writer, Olga Tokarczuk and she writes pityingly of those who only speak English as follows:

"There are countries where people speak English .  But not like us - we have our own languages in our carry on luggage.... only ever using English when we travel, and then only in foreign countries.  It's hard to imagine but English is their real language.  They don't have anything to fall back on or turn to in moments of doubt.

"How lost they must feel in the world, where all instructions, all the lyrics of the stupidest possible songs, all the menus, all the excrutiating pamphlets and brochures - even the buttons in the lift - are in their private language. They may be understood by anyone at any moment....." (Tokarczuk 2007/2017: 183).

Tokarczuk O (2007 translated 2017) Flight London: Fitzcarraldo.

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Brexit effect on the role of English

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An interesting view of the implications of Brexit on the English language:


I suspect he is overstating the effect it will have but clearly Brexit will have a negative effect on Britain's role in the world.

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Yet more on English as a medium of instruction course

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The final part of the course involved some micro teaching and a discussion/reflection on the experience.

The students did well and I learned a great deal about their subjects from this, which suggests their communication and teaching skills were effective.  However, one of the students told me how worried she was that some of her students would judge her English skills unfavourably compared to the English teachers in her university.  It seems that perhaps she is too perfectionist and her teaching of the content in an effective way should be the priority (but perhaps it is easier for me to say this than it is for her to feel this).

Thinking about these teachers, they are under a great deal of pressure.  Like most other lecturers, they are expected to be research active and publish, teach their content effectively and do this in a second language.  They will need great qualities and strengths but I think and hope they have those qualities.

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Korean in Central Asia

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 12 Jul 2016, 10:22

I have come across the following article about Koreans and the Korean language in Kazkhstan - Koreans in  Uzbekistan are also mentioned in passing.


I was aware of quite a large community of people of Korean origin in Tashkent as I had been there in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  For example, Korean style pickled cabbage was a significant feature in the markets.

The article is interesting but seems naive in some ways.  Some of the comments made me feel uneasy because of the way the language seems to be seen as inferior.

There are interesting comments about language change.  It discusses the way the Korean language has changed in these new contexts.  According to the article, the variety of Korean derives from one that used to be spoken in the north of Korea.  This reminded me of the way that American English has some things in common with older dialects of English.  For example, "fall" was commonly used to mean "autumn" in Britain but has almost died out.

The changes seem to be seen negatively - the writer refers to languages "deteriorating" and to this variety as being "broken" and that there was "grammatical decay".  However, she also refers to "grammatical aspects of the language changing", which could also be seen as an indication of vitality.

This is an interesting case of how languages evolve in different contexts and can be compared to the way that the English language has evolved in varying contexts..

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Briton in space, multlingualism and intercultural competence

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Wednesday, 16 Dec 2015, 17:44

I suppose I am showing my age if I state how interested I have always been by space exploration.  So, I have been very interested in newspaper coverage and television coverage of Tim Peake's flight.

One of the aspects that drew my attention was his need to study Russian during his training,  This was not surprising as he is traveling in a Russian craft and the Star Gazing programme last night mentioned how Russian is naturally the working language for the Soyuz flights although English will be used on the ISS.  The international nature of the ISS also presumably means there would need to be a high degree of intercultural competence on the part of the cosmo/astronauts.

Probably most viewers would have been aware of his physical, psychological and scientific skills but linguistic and intercultural competence must also be vital for these cosmo/astronauts.

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