Country names on Word of Mouth

Our very own Professor in Linguistics/Onomastics, Richard Coates, was on BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth programme talking about country names.  If you missed it, you can catch up here.  Richard discusses how countries get their names, who names them and why they can vary from language to language.  He also brings his place names expertise to bear on the thorny issue of what to call the United Kingdom if Scotland were to ever become independent!  Well worth a listen.


I’m sorry you feel that way

by James Murphy

I had a brief chat with Ed, Troy and Paulina on Heart Radio through the week about apologies.  We talked about the idea that saying ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ is not really an apology and how, if you are apologising, you need to take on responsibility for the bad thing you’ve done.  It was a nice warm up for the sorts of things Kate Beeching and I will be exploring in our colloquium ‘Just how sorry are you, mate?’ at the iMean 5 conference next week.

What do you think is important to do when apologising?  What features make a bad apology?

Now that’s what I call great use of linguistics …

by Richard Coates

It’s a moment to remember with gratitude the Chinese scholar Zhōu Yǒuguāng, who died on 14 January at the astonishing age of 111 years and 1 day – perhaps the oldest person ever who is famous for something in addition to being improbably old. He was originally a banker and agricultural policy economist, but had an interest in linguistics from his student days. He is the scholar behind the Hànyǔ Pīnyīn system, which is now universally used for writing Mandarin in roman characters (as exemplified in the names above). It took him three years, at the head of a small team. The original intention was to create a pronunciation guide for traditional Chinese characters, with a view to raising literacy standards in China, which was praiseworthy enough, but the project took off into something of far greater and more permanent significance. The Chinese government adopted Hànyǔ Pīnyīn (usually called just Pīnyīn (Pinyin) by foreigners) as its preferred romanization system in 1958, eight years before the contemptible and disastrous social experiment of the Cultural Revolution (1966-75), during which this distinguished man was marked out for “re-education” and spent two years in a labour camp. Since then, after his rehabilitation (i.e. return to normality) Pīnyīn was adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1982, and by the United Nations in 1986. Not content with this major success, in the 1980s, he was part of a team which translated Encyclopedia Britannica into Chinese (for newcomers to the world, that’s an early form of Wikipedia without the wiki element). Zhōu, a Marxist from his early adulthood, had worked abroad until the Communist revolution of 1949, at which point he returned to China. He continued to be a measured critic of Chinese government policy in his retirement, and a number of his books are currently banned in China.

Did you know, by the way, that another famous Chinese linguist, Zhào Yuánrèn (known in the West as Yuen Ren Chao), coined the word stir-fry in a book devoted to publishing his wife Yáng Bùwěi’s recipes? No? Well, you do now.

End of term party on Wednesday!

by Kate Beeching

Dear English/ Language and Linguistics students and staff,

A quick reminder that you are cordially invited to an END-OF-TERM party on Wednesday 7 December, 1pm., in 2S606.

Come and celebrate the end of term and view the 10 best video-clips collected as part of  the Bristol Soundscapes competition.

Prizes for the 3 best clips will be presented:

FIRST PRIZE: 2 tickets to the panto

SECOND PRIZE: 2 breakfasts at Carluccio’s

THIRD PRIZE: A Christmas Hamper (includes chocolate!)

Light refreshments will be provided – do feel free to bring something to share.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

All best wishes,

Kate Beeching.

Family Names Dictionary published

Huge congratulations to the Family Names team on the publication of The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, released today with Oxford University Press.

The work, explaining the origins of nearly 50,000 family names, is the result of many years of painstaking academic labour.

The work has received positive write-ups across the media, including the BBCThe GuardianDaily MailIndependentDaily MirrorEvening Standard, as well as too many local publications to mention. Prof. Richard Coates was also interviewed on the Today programme about the work (skip to 2.38.30).

The four volume (3,136 paged!) dictionary gives details on the origins, history and geographical distribution of family names in Britain and Ireland.  It uses previously untapped archives (some dating back to the 11th Century) to give the most comprehensive understanding of these names to date.

The team involved a certainly deserving of the praise coming their way.  More details on the project and the team can be found on the UWE website.

Bristol Soundscapes competition

Kate Beeching is launching the Bristol Soundscapes project, in which we aim to capture and celebrate the linguistic diversity of Bristol.  We are looking for you to collect short recordings of people using language in our city, with a view to producing an interactive map demonstrating the wide variety of languages and dialects used in the local area.

Kate will be hosting a training session next Monday

Bristol Soundscapes Training session, 11- 12 am on 31 October in Room 2S704:

Suitably seasonal spooky refreshments provided).  Here you can get more information about the project, and how we would like you to get involved.


  • GREAT PRIZES and a GALA PRESENTATION/END-OF-TERM party! Wednesday 7 December, 1pm in 2S606. The 10 best videos will be displayed. Light refreshments provided/bring something to share.
  • GREAT FUN: Meet new people, find out about the accents, languages and dialects actually spoken in the city
  • A WORTHY CAUSE: Interactive map display for Bristol; S-block exhibit

Camp America: a review

by Georgette Humbert (current final-year student)

I had seen people do Camp America in the past and was always in awe of the endless photos on Facebook and Instagram, but it never seemed as though it would be something I could feasibly do. As part of a year two module, we had to go to the employment fair which is where I discovered a company called Camp Leaders. If anyone told me they were considering the whole camp counsellor experience, I would always recommend Camp Leaders. They make the whole process considerably less stressful as they do pretty much everything for you. They can organise your flights and also offer you the option to pay in instalments (which is great for our Uni student budget).


Georgette at Waukeela Camp


If I were to make any kind of disclaimer, my experience taught me that Camp America is NOT a holiday. Being a camp counsellor means working extremely hard on very little sleep. However, having young girls look at me not only as their counsellor but their mentor and someone they can feel safe around was extremely rewarding for me.

I was working as a swimming instructor at a camp called Waukeela Camp for Girls in New Hampshire. This particular camp was small in comparison to others and was extremely traditional as it was founded in 1922. The camp was beneath pine trees, with old wooden cabins and singing from 8am until 9pm which would resonate throughout the forest- parent trap eat your heart out. My day would start at 7am, you slept in the same cabin as your campers so it was your responsibility to make sure they showered and were at breakfast for 8am. Breakfast consisted of incredibly loud singing and mostly sugary fruit loops, even cake some mornings- the camp diet is not for health enthusiasts. This would be followed by flag raising where you would pledge your allegiance to the United States of America and to the earth. As a swimming instructor I would be working on the lake pretty much all day every day after having completed a Lifeguarding course and water safety instruction qualification (both of which are valid for two years after). Having a beautiful lake as my office, in the sun every day is definitely something I didn’t complain about.


A lake makes a good office

My camp being an all girls’ camp which was founded in the 1920’s, meant very strong traditions, some even cult-ish in nature. There is no talk of negative self-body image, no talking about your personal life, no mobile phones and definitely no drinking. Albeit these rules sound rather extreme, there are incredible aspects of camp life, like hiking to the top of Mount Washington, white water rafting the Saco River and, of course, the travelling after.

The friends you make at camp mean being spoilt for choice by who’s house you stay at after. I stayed in the typical New England suburbs in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. After this I flew to California, visiting San Francisco, Yosemite national Park, Santa Cruz and other incredible places. I then ended my trip by flying back to New York for four days.


Georgette (fourth from left) and pals

If you don’t know what to do with yourself in the huge four month summer we get, then being a camp counsellor is definitely something you should consider. If you want the less traditional camp experience I would advise going to a bigger, mixed sex camp. Or, if you like the idea of an all girls’ camp and really making strong friendships with not only all the staff, but the campers, then maybe a place like Waukeela is for you. Either way, its turns out to be a summer you’ll be talking about for years after or maybe even going back to.

Level 1 Timetable

You should by now be able to see your personalised timetable on myUWE, but in case you can’t or you want to double check that everything is on there, here is the current timetable:

(EL= modules taken by students studying English and English Language and English Language and Linguistics; L= modules taken by students studying English Language and Linguistics only)


Monday 9-11 English: Past, Present & Future lecture (EL)

Monday 12-2 Meaning, Style & Discourse lecture (EL)

Monday 2-3; 3-4; 4-5 Meaning, Style & Discourse seminars (EL)

Monday 2-3; 3-4; 4-5 English: Past, Present & future seminars (EL)

Tuesday 2-4 Sociolinguistics & Fieldwork lecture (L)

Wednesday 9-11 Applying Linguistics: Forensic Analysis lecture (L)

Wednesday 11-12; 12-1 Applying Linguistics: Forensic Analysis seminars (L)

Wednesday 11-12; 12-1 Sociolinguistics & Fieldwork seminars (L)

Please attend the seminar group listed on your timetable.  If you are missing anything from your timetable, please consult with one of the Student Advisors who will be able to resolve the issue for you.  You can do this by visiting one of the Information Points dotted around campus, or telephoning 0117 32 85678 to book an appointment.

Rebecca’s Bristol recommendations

by Rebecca Fong

Here are some top tips for making the most of your time in Bristol:

Food and drink!

Best coffee –  too many good coffee shops to mention. Try The Stock Exchange Bakery, St Nicholas Street BS1, Pinkmans Park Street, Laura Hart’s bakery at Temple Meads Station (it’s a hidden gem), Small Street Espresso, The Well on Gloucester Road and Mark’s Bakery in Southville. You could be drinking coffee somewhere else everyday…

The 50 Best Independent Coffee Shops in Bristol

Best bread: Good bread used to be hard to find, but now it’s everywhere. For CHEAP good bread, try… The Bread Store on the Gloucester Road (go at the end of the day and they sell of bread cheaply)


Best place to buy oriental ingredients for cooking:

Wai Yi Hong, a massive Chinese supermarket (good fresh food on Sunday mornings, Peking duck, dumplings, Chinese cakes etc) -Eastgate Centre, near IKEA. Big restaurant upstairs serving dim sum (take the same buses as for IKEA, see page 3 of this document) and then walk (about 8 minutes). Look it up on google maps.

Vietnamese supermarket, Gloucester Road

Korean supermarket, Gloucester Rod

Wing Yip – Thomas Street East (near Bristol Bridge in The Centre) A good Asian supermarket, with a Chinese restaurant above it (look it up on google maps)

Asian supermarket – Denmark Street (just next to the Hippodrome in the centre – if you are facing the Hippodrome, Denmark street is on your left, walk to the top, it’s on your left)

168 Oriental on Park Street


Best pubs/bars:

Too numerous to mention….

Several on the Gloucester Road

Roo Bar (Clifton Down) or Walkabout Gloucester Road – good for watching sports events

There are lots of pubs around the Corn Street area in the “Old City” (just off The Centre) eg The Slug and Lettuce, The Commercial Rooms etc etc

The Old Duke for live jazz and The Llandoger Trow – both on Welsh Back

Best pub terrace:

The White Lion (The Avon Gorge Hotel, Clifton Village) – go on a nice day and sit on the terrace…what a surprise…

Best bars:

loads of bars in Corn Street, The Centre, The docks area and Waterfront: Arnolfini, Watershed Bar, Pitcher and Piano, Mud Dock…..


Cheap and cheerful restaurants:

(too many to mention)

COSMO, (Clifton Triangle): Costs around £13 for the buffet in the evenings, about £8 for lunch, Asian food (Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Japanese, Thai…). Student discount at certain times.

ZaZa Bazaar – Harbourside, Buffet like Cosmo, world foods. Various “deals” available.

DIY (Do-it-yourself):

if you’re decorating your room/house and want paint, the most convenient DIY stores are Wilko (Broadmead and Clifton Triangle) or Gardiner Haskins near Temple Meads station – you can get there on a number 8 or 9 bus, get off at The Bristol Evening Post building, just 2 stops before Temple Meads station; ….and opposite Gardiner Haskins is a good garden centre for pot plants.

Shopping days out!

  • IKEA just off junction 2 of the M32 motorway. From UWE, take a First bus 48A from UWE to Robertson Road (SW bound). There is about 6 minutes’ walk when you get off. Check this out online before you go.
  • CRIBBS CAUSEWAY – a huge out of town shopping park, you could spend a day there. Take the 19 from UWE go to Cribbs Causeway, the final destination (about 25 mins from UWE). Or from the centre, a 1 or ONE or 2 will take you there (about 45 mins).


Extracurricular activities!

Markets: St Nicholas permanent outdoor and indoor markets on Sat, Mon, Tue, Wed (food), Thurs – Corn Street Bristol (+ first Sunday of every month is The Slow Food Fair, very nice organic food). There is some really yummy “street stall” food here. Falafels, Kurdish wraps, Italian, Jamaican, Moroccan… mmmmm…

Independent cinemas for independent foreign films and old movies: Arnolfini and Watershed (both on the Docks), The Cube (King’s Square)

In town cinemas: The Odeon, Broadmead; The Orpheus, Henleaze (bus 2 from the Centre, to Waitrose Henleaze), The Showcase VUE, Cabot Circus (top floor)

Best swimming pool: Bristol University in the Students’ Union, Queen’s Road (a UWE student’s card will get you in for £4 a time); also Horfield Leisure Centre on the Gloucester Road (top end not city end)

Best classical concert venue: St George’s, Brandon Hill, just off Park Street; The Colston Hall (Colston Avenue)

Best theatres: The Bristol Old Vic (afternoon matinee tickets are cheaper); The Tobacco Factory, Raleigh Road, Bedminster (wonderful performances); The Hippodrome for musicals (The Centre)

Clubs and discos: As your fellow students…!



Best public transport: there is no such thing as good public transport in Britain, sorry…


Be aware that there are 2 bus companies in Bristol (apps and bus time checkers are available)

  1. First Bus (the “white” buses) and
  2. Wessex red (the red buses) – tend to be slightly cheaper than First

You can get cheap day passes on each (with student discounts) OR a BRISTOL DAY RIDER, slightly more expensive, which means you can use both companies’ buses all day. Without a discount, this costs £4.50 a day.

Confusingly, these buses mostly serve different routes, but there are also a couple of common routes eg First bus 1, Wessex Red ONE.

Bristol buses – student deals are available, visit the Student Union in F Block and ask about weekly/monthly/annual passes. Get a student card to reduce your travel costs. Online, pre-paid options where you pay with your phone, are also good value.

If you want to go to BATH for the day, get a “First day southwest” ticket on the bus. It’s £11 without a student pass and includes unlimited bus travel in Bristol and Bath PLUS the train fares to and from Bath.

Cheapest coach trip to London:

1) The Megabus from as little as £1 a journey. You must get your tickets online at Buses to London leave from UWE every day from the NORTH entrance bus stop (not the regular bus stops)

3) National Express student travel card for 30% off standard rates on all trips or book early and get their funfares.

 Trains: Trains are incredibly expensive in Britain, but if you book and pre-pay WELL in advance, using or the national rail site, you can often get much cheaper “APEX” fares (you cannot change the times on the tickets though). Travelling on Fridays or at peak times (before 9.30am and after 4.15pm) is more expensive on trains.

Regular coaches go from the coach station to the train station/ to Bristol International Airport in approx. 45 minutes (cheap airlines from Bristol include Easyjet, Ryanair, bmi regional).

Buy a bike! – best place to get a bargain – check the “For Sale” section of the local paper, the EVENING POST, gumtree, or advertisements in small shop windows; you could get a perfectly usable bike for about £50 and never have to take a bus again! UWE also has bikes for hire – £50 for a year, approx.. Check the bike hub down by the bus stops.

When you cycle in Britain, you must follow the Highway Code (pretend you’re a car!). Wear a helmet, and/or a green cycle jacket. Don’t cycle on the pavement or the wrong way down a one-way street. Also, ride with care. It goes without saying that you will need good D-locks and lights. There is a “back way” through fields from Lockleaze into UWE avoiding all the major roads. SUSTRANS, the HQ for sustainable/bike transport, is located in Bristol and has been central in improving bike lanes etc over the years. Nothing is perfect, but the city is gradually becoming more cycle friendly. Please contribute to giving cyclists a good name.

STAY SAFE – only get a bicycle if you feel confident about cycling. If you do though, you will get an enormous sense of freedom for Bristol and visit parts that others never see J. UWE to city centre on a bike? 35 minutes, great exercise and it’s FREEEEEE….

Cheap hotels for friends to stay in: The Premier Travel Inn, Broadmead and many more. Airbnb is now also available.


Sightseeing in Bristol (All city museums are free – though special exhibitions may not be)

Best historical hour out: The Georgian House, Brandon Hill, just off Park Street

Best view of Bristol: From the top of the Cabot Tower, Brandon Hill, just off Park street, – go on, it won’t kill you, and it’s free….lots of squirrels in the park too!

Best alternative perspective of Bristol: From the Camera Obscura in the Observatory next to the Suspension Bridge – only go on a really sunny day or the camera won’t work!

Best rides: take the ferry from the centre – to….anywhere, do a round-trip stopping off at some pubs! The Official Bristol open top bus tour is fun too, about £6 on/off as you like all day

Best summer fun: The Harbour Festival (July), The Balloon Fiesta (around the second weekend in August), The Pop Festival (July), Grillstock, The Kite festival (early September), The Organic Food Fair (early September). Bristol is a festival city – 39 festivals between May and September!


I hope you have a great time in Bristol.       Rebecca