Medalling with the English Language.


Text A is a blog from the Oxford Dictionary which presents a descriptivist view, as they are simply there to sell the dictionaries – the increase in the coinage of lexis means more have to be produced, however they will sell more due to people, especially those keen on English, wanting to keep up to date to the new vocabulary marked worthy to be in the dictionary. Text B is an online The Guardian article, which linking to text A, also has a descriptivist view. This is shown through the article discussing both the advantages and attitudes to language change, instead of enforcing change to be resisted. Text C differs from text A and B as it holds a prescriptivist view. It is also an online article (like text b) shown by the hyperlinks surrounding the actual text, however, is written on a Roger Moseys sport blog where he clearly states that language change is a “license to inflict cruelty”, stating that ‘to poduim’ is a worse offence than ‘to medal’. All three texts have the genre to inform their readers on the issues and controversies of language change, however present different views, shown through their descriptivist and prescriptvisit language. The audiences for these are all likely to be rather educated and particularly interested in language and its development, however the audience for text C is more likely to be those interested in sport due to it being a sport blog, however the hyperlinks show that they have chosen to rad this article so in some way must have little interest. The purpose of all three of these texts is to inform and educate their audiences and language change, but all have it based on the semantic field of ‘verbing’, brought on with the Olympic/sport jargon ‘medalling’ and ‘podiumed’.

In the title of Text A “Meddling with nouns: who’s medalling now?” uses homophones with ‘meddling’ usually meaning to mess with, and the verb medal, this is a play on words, especially with the rhetorical question likely to be used for amusement to readers- by using the verb ‘meddling’, this suggests that verbing nouns is messing and corrupting with the English language. Text B’s title uses an imperative “Mind your language”; this phrase is used for a humorous effect to remind the audience of when using “bad language”, taboos, in the wrong contexts, but as it is from a descriptivist view it could be humouring at the fact that same people (those with prescriptivist views) class changing language as bad language. Even though text A and B present rather humorous views, text C shows it is fairly suited towards the upper class audience or those who believe they are elite with a title “medalling in the language of sports journalism”, so simply states how the term ‘medalling’ has come to be in use in terms of sport.

Text A points out that the term ‘to medal’ is in fact not new but is only just gradually coming into fashion from the rise of sport and how advances in technology and the media allow us to communicate in the world of sport and participate together “earliest known using…in 1996”, text B also claims the usage to not be new, however clearly states it’s just the case for athletes “common among athletes for years”, therefore this could be suggesting that it is only jut becoming more common to the rest of society due to the popularity in sporting events. All three texts mention the idea of language change coming from Americanisms we see as prestigious. Text a “more common in British English” shows that we are ‘borrowing’ from the US in terms of language for our benefit of understanding the sport jargon, however in text B this suggests that people see the “Americanisation’ of English” as a complete negative due to them blaming it on “television,music, the computer and similar new-fangled inventions” linking to Mackinnon’s theory of it being contextually inappropriate. By using the adjective “new-fangled” suggests that those with who don’t like the change in language are rather archaic as they are unfamiliar with new technology and inventions and are unable to fund use/the advantages of them. Text C is familiar with ‘to medal’ however is hostile to using ‘to podium’ by calling “[adopting] American sporting language” as a “pet hate”, which is used as an idiom.

Text A goes onto to discussing that language lovers become “upset” when nouns are turned into verbs and that it is “awkward and abominable”, emphasised by its alliteration. This links into Mackinnon’s theory that they believe verbing is useless and ugly due to the very strong adjective “abominable” suggesting they beloved it was to the extremities of being morally wrong, especially with medalling and podiuming being “targets to public disgust” which almost personifies them as they are receiving human cruelty even though they are only words. This links into text c where it personifies the English language to get across the point that change is almost violent like upon language “inflicting cruelty” with “plea” being used as if the writer is simply begging for it not to be changed. Text C also kinks to Mackinnon’s theory fully when it states “[podium] seems ugly and unnecessary” which is basically the whole point of his theory. Text C also displays features of Mackinnon’s theory when it says “good use of language should be the hallmark… for all broadcasting.” Suggesting it is the theory of opposites in it being correct/incorrect.

Text A says how the English language has developed from foreign trade or ‘borrowing’ of words linking into Aitchison’s 2013 theory in the form of infectious disease, that we ‘catch’ words from those around us and choose what new spelling etc. we want and not at random as “English can use the same form for both.” Text B uses many references to Aitchison’s ‘Crumbling Castle’, by using the adjective ‘beautiful’ ,in “beautiful language is being dragged” shows that language is something that has been so carefully designed and that changing it should be resisted – this is also found in text C when it says “we maintain standards…enhanced for millions” suggesting the English language needs to stay exactly how it is for it to be perfect and changing it would make it ugly or unpleasant (Mackinnon 1996), however by saying “standards” shows that change would be classed as lazy or sloppy as the standards are already at the best they can be, therefore linking to the Damp Spoon Theory, also from Aitchison.

Text B uses language features like alliteration in “controversy continues” to link the controversy of the language to the controversy athletes seem to gain whilst in important events like the Olympics over things like drugs and cheating. By referring metaphorically to those who seek language change as “barbarians” show the exaggeration that those who are uneducated are the ones who are ruining language, not the guardian readers therefore reassuring them and by calling language change as “evil” is a hyperbole likely used for the humorous effect linking it to those barbarians destroying language. The Guardian believes that their audience may have prescriptivist views whereas the writes are writing from a descriptivist point of view “Gary Glitter has more chance of a Christmas No.1… than persuading the guardian readers that ‘to medal’ is ok.” By referencing Gary Glitter, the writer is using humour to display how he has no chance of getting his readers to accept the new verbing change.



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