Author: craigrevans

Sign Language and Comedy

by Craig Evans

When you think about physical comedy, it may conjure up images of the pratfalls of silent comedians or the absurd bird-like leg movements of John Cleese (pre-hip replacements). But the role of physicality in comedy is not confined to the slapstick genre or one-note jokes. Far from it! Even the most word-oriented humour relies on a subtle gesture or facial expression.

Take, for example, gags which are based entirely on wordplay. Jimmy Carr, a major proponent of this type of comedy, may be a self-confessed ventriloquist’s doll appearance-wise, but a raised eyebrow here and confused side-to-side movement of the head there, and suddenly the joke is far funnier than the wordplay alone.

Carr’s gestures express his attitude towards the jokes he tells, which in turn can guide the audience’s own way of looking at them. For example, if he were to say something risqué that the audience may be reluctant to laugh at, a gesture of affected obliviousness can help defuse any tension holding the laughter back. Continue reading


Decisions Decisions – Third-Year Module Choices

by Craig Evans

‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood / And sorry I could not travel both’ – Robert Frost


Friday’s module option fair has left me in a bit of a quandary. What to do, what to do? From the start I was certain about three of the four options, and I had hoped the fair would help me make up my mind about the fourth. Alas, it has not! I am stuck between two choices, but come 12 noon tomorrow (when the online module choices open), for better or worse, I will make my decision.

It is not a decision to be taken lightly, though. How do we want to spend our final year studying English Language and Linguistics at UWE: will it be with lecturers we favour? Are we going to allow ourselves to be swayed by what our friends choose? Or will we base our decision entirely on the module content?

Continue reading

Can editors read for pleasure?

by Sally Evans-Darby

Here’s an interesting post from Write Sense Media for any current or would-be editors / proofreaders…

As any proofreader or editor will know, there’s a clear difference between reading for work and reading for pleasure. With my proofreading cap on, I’m interrogating the text, seeing each word individually and scanning it in the context of its fellows to check for sense, accuracy, and the like. If I find myself swimming merrily from sentence to sentence and enjoying the content, that’s a warning sign to stop and begin the passage again, because it’s likely that in losing myself in the story I’m missing any number of pubics for publics, principles for principals, polices for policies. Continue reading

Undergraduate Conference – Diary Entry 2

by Craig Evans

Well, you’ve got to speculate to accumulate. Right? That’s what they say isn’t it? Although ‘they’ are probably just someone who wants you to invest in some hare-brained financial scheme or other. They don’t ask me because I am a student and I wear my pockets turned out in a manner that seems to say: nothing to venture, nothing to gain. So instead these maxims are scooped up by my fledgling but eager academic ear.

And what do I hear? – You’ve got to speculate to accumulate. Meaning: have some ideas, try them out for size, don’t worry if they don’t always fit, for it’s all a part of the wonderful rich experience that is learning.

Continue reading

Students as customers: a cautionary perspective

by Craig Evans

With the new academic year about to start, the second wave of the 9k-a-year generation will follow the first, and the heightened sensitivity to value-for-money that accompanies such a high price tag will spread further among the student body. This sensitivity will invariably express itself on the occasions when things don’t go quite as we’d like, in the form of the rhetorical question: is this what we pay our £9,000 fees for? It’s a fair attitude, and it is also the attitude that the people who hiked up the fees want us to have: to think like customers, to question whether we’re getting our money’s worth from this business called higher education.


Continue reading

Language Gripes in the Media

by Craig Evans

As language students, we are all probably quite sensitive to the form of words and utterances, as much as we are their meaning. Of course we are not alone. People who work in entertainment and the media, particularly comedians, reviewers and commentators, continuously use language to ply their trade. Little wonder then that the forms that make up meaning frequently become a theme in their work. Continue reading

Fleshing out the theorists: Harvey Sacks

by Craig Evans

I don’t know about you, but ask me to tell you any number of stories about actors or pop stars, then I can probably do so without much hesitation. Ask the same about a linguist, then I will probably get as far as Chomsky or David Crystal, and even then only to say things like ‘a great thinker of our time’ or ‘I saw him talk last year at some literature festival or other’. At a stretch I can rack my brains to get out a Labov, or a Hell Dymes, or is it Dell Hymes? (I’ve checked: it is the latter). What were their theories again? Continue reading

What language barrier? – The case for subtitled films

by Craig Evans

It seems odd to me that there is still a generally accepted view of world cinema as art house, something pretentious people do between memorising Shakespeare quotes. This perception probably comes about from the language barrier that exists, and therefore the need for (at least among monolingual speakers) either subtitles or dubbing. As anyone who has watched old kung fu films will know, the strange effect of dubbing can bring its own kitsch appeal. Continue reading