Meddling debate


Text A= The guardian

Text B= Oxford Dictionaries Blog

Text C= Robert Mosey Blog

250px-meddling_todayText A is an article from the guardian entitled ‘Mind your language’ by David Marsh. In comparison, text B and C are both blogs, text B is an oxford dictionary blog entitled ‘Meddling with nouns: who’s medalling now?’ and text C is a Robert Mosey’s sports blog. I think that all three text’s have a similar audience of those interested in sports but also language. As well as that, I believe all the texts have the primary purpose of informing, however they also have a secondary purpose of entertaining. All three texts are discussing the topic of language change and more specifically the verbing of the, originally, noun ‘medal’. So as well as all three texts have the same main topic, they also have the same secondary topic which is the Olympics. They were all written when the Olympics or Winter Olympics had just finished meaning the interest in this topic would be high, which would entice more people to read any of the three pieces of text.

The level of formality ranges between all three texts. Although text B starts off with a humorous headline with the use of a homophone ‘Meddling: who’s meddling now?’, it has the highest level of formality as it lacks any techniques with a humorous purpose through-out the rest of the blog. This is due to the fact that it is an oxford dictionary blog therefore it is academic and has a purpose of informing, however does have a slight humorous tone suggesting it also has a secondary purpose of entertaining, it’s audience are more than likely to be people who are keen to learn about language and its changing nature . It fulfils its purpose by stating facts such as “A quick look at verbs in OED that first appeared in the 20th century shows that around forty percent of them are conversions from nouns” along with presenting a graph to show the amount of searches for the verb ‘medal’ across 2012. We can tell text B holds a descriptivist view as they are describing and documented language change, which is their purpose as a dictionary, through the use of facts and figures rather than scrutinising like a prescriptivist, perhaps would. A prescriptivist may use terminology about quality or correctness, just like Mackinnon mentioned in their theory on negative attitudes towards language change.

Similarly, Text A holds a descriptivist view and it shows this more through its use of humour. Although it holds the same view on language change as text B it shows this is a slightly different way and differs from text B in the fact that it uses the tone of humour quite heavily throughout. I believe text A meets its intended purpose of entertaining through the use of its hyperbolic features including sarcasm, for example “…linguistic barbarians are not only at the gates: they have battered their way through, pulled up a chair, helped themselves to a beer and are now undermining our very way of life by rewriting our grammar books to suit their own evil purpose”. The use of the phrase ‘linguistic barbarians’ is used to mock how prescriptivist supposedly see people who allow language change, it is saying they see them as vicious and wanting to destroy the ‘beautiful’ English language which could link to Aitcheson’s ‘crumbling castle’ metaphor which is used to describe the negative view of some prescriptivists.

In comparison, text C differs from both text A and B as it holds a prescriptivist view. Text C has a more specific target audience of people who are interested in sports more than language perhaps, we know this because this is a sports blog therefore the reader would have had to purposely search for this page. Due to it having a sports enthusiastic audience, it includes more sports terminology and as well as that it constantly refers the topic of language change back to the topic of sports. We can identify the articles prescriptivist view early on as for example “…plea is a simple one. Sports, he writes, shouldn’t give anyone “a license to inflict cruelty upon the English language”, the use of the noun ‘plea’ makes it appear as this topic is a life or death situation and if you do not use language ‘properly’ it could be detrimental. As well as that, the use of the metaphor which personifies the English language ‘inflict cruelty upon the English language’ can be referred back to Mackinnon’s theory where he states some prescriptivists have the view of language being ugly or pleasant and in this case they would see the verbing of the word ‘medal’ as ugly. Text C holds the semantic field of war/violence , which can be seen in the above phrase, they view language change as life or death of the entire English language, which again can be linked back to Aicheson’s metaphor ‘crumbling castle’. This links back to text A as that too has the semantic field of war/violence, however that text has that semantic field to mock what they believe prescriptivist see language change which text C goes on to prove them correct.

Text A and B are again similar in the fact that they both hold the same view that the verbing of the noun ‘medal’ is not recent and it has been around a while it is just that the uses of it spike at particular times which in this case they both point out to be the Olympics. Text A states “the term has been common among athletes for years… quote from the official team GB website, long before we got to Beijing: “The team includes athletes who have medalled at the Olympics”. By starting the quote off with the noun phrase “official team GB” emphasis the fact that even big organisations, which hold high authority in this field, were using this term prior to the guardian ever printing that term. Text B states “…the earliest known usage of ‘to medal’ in a sporting sense comes from a Californian newspaper in 1966” this again emphasis’ the fact that this term appeared a while ago however the frequency of the use and the amount of prescriptivism aversion to it rises and falls and this is partly due to when interest rises when the Olympics take place as it highlights topics like this. Due to both text A and B using facts to state when this term arose and describing why that is the case this again makes their descriptivist views as they are trying to describe and explain language change.

In conclusion, although text B and C are both a blog it is in fact text A and B that have the most similarities and I believe that this is due to the fact they both hold the same view on language change so they both present similar techniques to express their views.


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