Undergraduates, an opportunity not to be missed!

by Craig Evans

I was pleased to see that UWE is supporting students wishing to attend the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) next year, no doubt due in large part to the tireless efforts of Jenny Hill to secure funding. As a recent UWE graduate of the English Language and Linguistics degree course, and someone who benefited from this support in 2014 and 2015, I feel that I should stress how it is an opportunity not to be missed. This is especially the case for those thinking about continuing your studies postgraduate. I am currently studying for an MA in Discourse Studies at Lancaster University, and I believe the experience of attending an undergraduate conference not only helped bolster my MA application, but also my self-belief for studying at a higher level.

Of course, it is not only an opportunity for would-be academics, but also invaluable for anyone hoping to get ahead in a variety of industry sectors. No doubt we’ve all had our fair share of advice about the importance of doing extra activities to get an edge in an increasingly competitive graduate work market. Well, if you only do one extra activity during your time at university, then I recommend you make it the attendance of an undergraduate conference. The drive, focus and initiative demonstrated by students who present their own independent research at a national conference is something that will impress any discerning employer.

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iMean Conference 2015

by Craig Evans

Back in April, the fourth iMean conference was held at the University of Warwick. This was the first iMean outside of UWE. The conference – started in 2009 and staged every two years – is organised by Jo Angouri and Kate Beeching. This year, UWE’s Helen Watts was at the helm coordinating a group of Warwick and UWE students to help ensure the smooth running of the event, which by all accounts was a great success.

Rachael and I were there representing UWE’s English Language and Linguistics undergraduates. It was an exciting opportunity to experience a different university campus, to meet others interested in language research, and to experience some fascinating talks by academics at all levels. During our four days at the conference, we helped out with registration, organising signage, and directing delegates to the right rooms. In return for our efforts, we were able to attend the talks we wanted, to enjoy free breakfasts and a free drinks event, and to gain some valuable work experience (always good for the CV).

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CDA speeches! A practical exploration of Aristotle’s artistic proofs and other rhetorical techniques

by Craig Evans

For last week’s Critical Discourse Analysis module, several students volunteered to write speeches which they then delivered in the seminars. The purpose of the exercise was to explore the way that features of classical rhetoric, in particular Aristotle’s artistic proofs, work in persuasive writing. The format involved four speakers in each seminar making opposing arguments on two topics. After each speech the rest of the seminar group were asked to discuss the rhetorical merits of the speech; and after each topic, a vote was held to decide which argument had won the most support.

The two topics chosen by students to speak on were immigration and the Oscar Pistorius trial. Speakers were asked to argue against or for the following propositions:

“Immigration has gone far enough and a firm limit should now be placed on Britain’s borders”

“Oscar Pistorius is guilty of murder and should be sentenced accordingly” Continue reading

Harry Parkin’s ‘What Tax Returns Reveal About the West Midlands Dialect’ – BCL Talk Review

by Craig Evans

The Bristol Centre for Linguistics’ seminar series continued yesterday with an engaging talk from recent PhD graduate Harry Parkin. The subject of Dr Parkin’s presentation was what tax returns reveal about the West Midlands English dialect; or to be precise, what the poll tax returns of 1377, ’78 and ’81 reveal about specific dialectic features. The main feature under examination was the rounding of /ɑ/ before nasal consonants, which would become an <o>. To illustrate this point, Dr Parkin provided the etymological example of band and bond, which would have once denoted variant spellings of the same word.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Dr Parkin’s research, and diachronic linguistics in general, is the methodology involved. How can we really know how people spoke in a time before technological innovations enabled voices to be recorded? The answer: well, we can’t really know for sure. However, evidence for the sound of English in the past does exist: in the form of the written word. Continue reading

Bristol Centre of Linguistics Seminar Series 2014-2015

by Craig Evans

The BCL seminar series starts tomorrow at UWE, and the line-up looks great! First up, Laura Wright will be visiting from Cambridge to deliver a talk on an interdisciplinary approach to history (Geography, Literature, Onomastics: the rural and suburban history of Sunnyside, Rm 2S609). This will be followed a week later (22 October, Rm 2S609) by our very own Harry Parkin who will be sharing with us his findings on what tax returns reveal about the West Midlands English dialect.

After a two-week interval, on 5 November (note: this has now been rescheduled to 3 December), Markus Schiegg will be over from the University of Bristol to talk about Variation in lower-class writing: 19th-century patient letters from southern Germany (Rm 2S603). Then, for those of you interested in semantics, Richard Coates will be revisiting a fascinating theme with Some more aspects of the Pragmatic Theory of Properhood, which will be on 12 November (Rm 2S609).

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Volunteering for East African Playgrounds

by Harry Westwood and Beth Swindell
Are you looking for a new experience? Would you like to make a real difference? Do you relish the chance for a bit of adventure? Then how about volunteering for East African Playgrounds, a charity that builds playgrounds for rural village schools in Uganda.
You can join the UWE playground project team who are spending a month working with 18 other volunteers, building a playground and hosting arts and games classes for the children in Uganda. The unique aspect of this project is that volunteers get to build the playground from start to finish: on day-one there is an empty field; a month later you will see scores of happy and excited children playing on a brand new playground which you not only built, but also helped fund.

And the best thing about how we work is that volunteers get to live within the community, which means they make friends with the locals as well as the kids, who are very excited to have them there. Our volunteers need no experience, just enthusiasm, a desire to help and an appetite for new experiences!

This is the link to our information pack:

This is the link to the application form:

If you’d like more information please contact us on com or visit the website at
We are having an information meeting at 5:30pm Thursday 2nd October, 3E12 frenchay where you can meet the charity and find out more about the project!
Many thanks, Harry and Beth (UWE playground project team leaders)

Graduation 2014!

by Jeanette Sakel

After a few quiet weeks (certainly here on the blog), we’re now back with lots of photos of today’s graduation ceremony. What a great day! Ok, there was the heat (oh, it was HOT!!), but meeting up with everyone one final time was a real treat.

Since there were so many graduates today, most staff were placed in the front rows of the audience, rather than on stage, which was excellent as I was able to take photos from an angle we don’t normally see during the ceremony.

If you have any further photos you’d like to add: just send them to me / share them on Dropbox and I’ll add them. Hope you all had a fab day! Oh, and stay in touch (via this blog, Facebook, Twitter or whichever way you prefer)!

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End of year conference 2014

by Jeanette Sakel
Our end of year conference 2014 took place in the Octagon yesterday evening, with presentations from Jens, Victoria, Taylor and Alice. It was a great event – a really nice end to the year! Our graduates Amy and Maryam came to visit as well, and Petros came down from Manchester to join us, too.
In the end, our level 3s presented staff with two caricature drawings, which will feature prominently in our new pod in S-block (in the 2s300s), where we will be residing from June onwards.
Thank you all for coming, and making this event special! Thank you, all level 3s for the lovely pictures!

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British Conference of Undergraduate Research – Nottingham 2014

by Craig Evans

It’s hard to believe it, but after 6 months of anticipation, from first hearing about the UWE-funded opportunities to attend BCUR 2014 to finally making the trip to Nottingham’s Park Campus with rolled-up poster under arm, the conference is now over.

After months of thinking up a research topic, designing an experiment, background reading, realising that I may have bitten off more than I can chew, and somehow finding a way to present meaningful(ish) research, I can now reflect on an experience that has been inspiring and a great deal of fun.

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