Graduation 2016

by James Murphy

A few snaps from the Graduation and associated revelry.  Once again, many thanks to Kalei Sutherland for her brilliant organisation of the boat trip.  And to all of you graduating, we wish you every success in whatever you put your hand to next.  Keep us posted with what you are getting up to!

The language of ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ in the EU referendum

by Craig Evans

Voting day is upon us. After months of campaigning, the voting public will make their way to the polling stations to determine whether or not the UK will continue to be part of the European Union. For some, the choice they will indicate on the ballot paper may have been made long ago. For others, the decision is not so clear-cut, and it is these voters who political activists on both sides have been most keen to reach in the final weeks and days of the campaign. This means that, rather than preach to the converted, activists have needed to be more strategic in convincing the undecided that their position – be it leave or remain – is the right position.

One way to sway a wavering voter might be to appeal to emotion (‘pathos’, in Aristotle’s terms). For example, the fear of something that isn’t known (e.g. the precise economic effects of leaving the EU) or something that can’t be controlled (e.g. immigration). Regardless of the reality of either situation, this fear might be just enough to nudge voters one way or the other. Little wonder then that politicians have been shamelessly repeating expressions like ‘keep our seat at the table’ (Remainers) and ‘take back control’ (Brexiters). The first appeals to the fear of being shut out from a place of influence, the second to the fear of being powerless. Continue reading

Richard Coates on ‘Word of Mouth’, Radio 4

by Richard Coates

Richard Coates put in a guest appearance on “Word of Mouth” (BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 12 April, 16.00, repeated Monday 18 April, 23.00 and available on catch-up, short clip http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03qtqdr, full whack http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b076hrcn). This show is hosted by former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen (a UWE honorary doctor, incidentally) and Dr Laura Wright of Cambridge University. You might expect something heavyweight after the appearance of the world-famous Professor Steven Pinker of Harvard University on the programme the previous week, but, true to the very wide-ranging concerns of the series, it was an informed discussion of the history of English house-naming. Informed, but easy on the ear.

Richard didn’t get a chance to discuss two of his favourite house-names: the heroes’ hall in the Beowulf poem called Heorot ‘Stag’, and the earliest name of an English house that wasn’t a pub, dating from the 16th century: The Vyne, a stately home in Sherborne St John, Hampshire. The owner knew his Bible – see if you can work out an explanation!


How to tame long, unclear sentences

by Maria McCann

Royal Literary Fund Fellow in the Department of Arts and Cultural Industries.

Problem: sheer length

Solution: split them! Oddly, many students never consider this obvious step, which can resolve several problems at a stroke. Remember, however, that long sentences are not a fault in themselves. Good writing employs a variety of sentence forms.

Problem: the subject of the sentence appears very late

By being able to identify human voices from as early as twelve hours after birth, babies are perceptive to the sounds of human language from very early on.

Solution: move the subject to the beginning

Babies can identify human voices from as early as twelve hours after birth, and this makes them perceptive to the sounds of human language from very early on.

Problem: strings of relative pronouns (who, that, which) and over-use of this

Taskill chooses to write in iambic pentameter, which is commonly used in English sonnets. This is surprising, since… These sentences are short, but already there is potential ambiguity: what is surprising? Is it that sonneteers use iambic pentameter, or that Taskill does so?

Solution 1: introduce ‘recap’ words

Taskill chooses to write in iambic pentameter, a metre commonly used in English sonnets. This choice is surprising, since….

This is already clearer. Altering This choice to Her choice would make it better still.

Solution 2: repeat a key word

Smith took measures to keep down public spending, though he believed that the state should be responsible for certain public amenities, which were not fully supported.  

Does which refer to Smith’s measures or to the amenities? Repeating a key word helps:

Smith took measures to keep down public spending, though he believed that the state should be responsible for certain public amenities, amenities which were not fully supported.

The advice above is adapted from Julia Copus’s Brilliant Writing Tips for Students.

If you’d like to book a confidential one-to-one session with me to work on your writing skills email me at Maria.McCann@uwe.ac.uk. I’m in 3S201 on Frenchay on Wednesdays and Thursdays until the 16th June.


Spend your summer studying in India!

by the UWE InfoHub team 

Have you ever been captivated by a book, film or documentary about India? Would you like to deepen your knowledge on that subject? If so, where better to study it than in India!

You will have the opportunity to work with Indian peers in formal and informal settings which will build mutual understanding, create a greater awareness of the UK-India relationship and develop your intercultural fluency skills.. 

Interactive group learning and practical activities will develop your team working, communication and problem solving skills and equip you with important interview repertoire.

Doing a study course in India will enhance your understanding of your chosen subject and challenge you to widen your horizons as you place your studies within an Indian context. Each course will include excursions to help you gain a well-rounded impression of contemporary India, its culture and history. View the British Council Study India website here.

The courses last for 2-3 weeks and cost £400-£750 depending on where they are based in India. This price includes food, accommodation and excursions but it is advisable to take a small amount of pocket money.

You will need to pay for your flights to and from India

If you are in receipt of a maintenance grant you can apply for the Go Global Bursary of £1,000.

Applications will be through the UWE InfoHub (via UWE Careers) – but hurry – they would like you to express your interest by Monday 14.3. (i.e. early next week)!



Tense and aspect – and many more new videos

by Jeanette Sakel

I’ve been busy filming and editing a number of new videos, including:

  • tense and aspect LINK
  • complement clauses LINK
  • agreement (in grammar) LINK
  • adjectives (modifying and predicatively used adjectives) LINK

These are simple, short introductions (usually of less than 5 minutes). They are all available on our Language at UWE YouTube channel.

As always, let me know if there are specific videos you would like me to add to this list! The ‘tense and aspect’ video came about after I ran a CPD-training event for teachers of the Cabot Learning Federation on ‘teaching grammar’ – they asked whether it would be possible to put together a video on this topic. The video on complement clauses relates directly to some of the things we discussed in class (level 2, ‘Language and the Mind’) last week! The other two videos (agreement and adjectives) have been on my (and others’) wish-list for a while.

These videos are the first ones that I have (fully) produced myself – I’ve now got my video set-up going. It’s a steep learning curve, but it’s also great fun 🙂