Medalling with the English Language



Text A is an online article taken from the Guardian with an audience that’s interested in language change. The Guardian readers are generally liberal and are well educated. It has a multimodal purpose in which its primary purpose is to inform its readers about language change and its secondary purpose is to discuss people’s views on it. This text also has a purpose to entertain  Firstly, David Marsh’s view on language change is a descriptivist approach and that he accepts language change. This can be identified straight away as the title of this article “Mind your language” is quite an informal imperative that is most commonly associated with bad language also known as taboo. It shows that he is possibly being sarcastic towards some people’s view of language change because some see language change as a bad thing and is not always the case in the eyes of David Marsh. David Marsh’s descriptivist view continues in his first paragraph which seems quite passive as he says “to the outrage provoked” he doesn’t know exactly who is provoked at this point, therefore by using the noun “outrage” it also adds a sarcastic and humorous tone. Marsh also uses a build-up of bathos by using alliteration “controversy continues…” and exaggeration which reflects the view that he has as he’s almost mocking people that are angered by language change. Within Text A David Marsh also makes reference to Aitchinson’s crumbling castle when he says “the linguistic barbarians are not only at the gates: they have battered their way through…” as the gates are protecting the castle which represents the English language that should not be changed according to some. By calling them “Barbarians” he is referring to them as the uneducated and the uncivilised because they don’t accept language change and actually see this as a ‘crumbling castle’ which in fact can be seen as a good thing according to David Marsh’s view.

Text B is taken from Roger Mosey’s Blog with an audience that takes an interest in sport as it’s from the BBC online sport page and this also has a multimodal purpose to inform and entertain its readers. This text differs from Text A as it takes a prescriptivist approach rather than descriptivist. Therefore straight away it’s going to take a much more negative approach to language change. In the first few sentences the verb “plea” is mentioned which shows that the view of language change is negative and they are almost begging for it to stay the same. Another way that the descriptivist view is shown is that a metaphor has being used “inflict cruelty” which also creates personification for the English language. It is being portrayed that cruelty is being inflicted on the English language when being changed. Therefore seen as a bad thing which can link with Aitchinson’s crumbling castle because this text takes the approach that the language is crumbling due to the change and should be kept preserved. This is similar to text A in which some people see the language as a castle but also differs at the same time because this text sees the crumbling as a bad thing whereas in text A David Marsh sees it as a good thing. This idea is expanded further in text B when Roger Mosey says “But good use of language should be the hallmark of sports journalism and commentary just as it is for all broadcasting”. When he says “good use” this refers to Makinnon’s opposite theory in which one of them says that language can be correct or incorrect, therefore there can be good and bad ways to use the English language.

Text C is also a blog but is by the editor of Oxford dictionaries therefore will have an audience that are interested in the English language and has a purpose to entertain and also to inform. This text is similar to Text A in the way that they both take a descriptivist approach. This text takes a more obvious descriptivist approach as it’s a dictionary therefore will understand language change a lot more than an online newspaper article as it specialises in new words and also the fact that they will want to sell their dictionaries so will actually want language change to happen. Just like Text A it’s fairly obvious what the tone of the text will be because of its title. In this blog the title “Meddling with nouns: who’s medalling now?” shows straight away that its approach is humorous as it uses a homophone of the word ‘meddling and medalling’ and puts it into a rhetorical question. The blog also makes reference to a Californian newspaper that uses  the verb ‘to medal’ in 1966 which tells us that it’s not actually a new word  and it’s in fact been around for a long time, it just spikes at different points. For example, when the Olympics take place, it is shown that this verb is used a lot more commonly because it’s more appropriate


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