English Language

Protester holding a sign saying "Liar Johnson puts the 'ROGUE' in 'PRO-ROGUE' at a protest at Th

Putting the ‘rogue’ in ‘prorogue’

By Jack Fifield

Protester holding a sign saying "Liar Johnson put the 'ROGUE' in 'PRO-ROGUE' #StopTheCoup" at the "Stop the Coup" protest next to The Cenotaph, Bristol City Centre
Protester holding a sign at the “Stop the Coup” protest next to The Cenotaph, Bristol City Centre, 31st August 2019
Photo: Jack Fifield

The word ‘prorogue’ has been enjoying its time in the spotlight this week, and many, not least angry protesters, have expertly deduced that the word ‘prorogue’ looks like the words ‘pro rogue’. This begs the question: are these words actually related?

To start my investigation, I turned to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), located at oed.com, and I signed in using my UWE Bristol login, just one of the many databases that the University grants access to students from campus or from home.

As an historical dictionary, the OED doesn’t prioritize modern meanings over historical meanings; this can be seen by the fact that the modern UK sense isn’t stated until last in the OED’s entry “b. intransitive. Of a legislative assembly, etc.: to discontinue sittings for a period of time or until the next session.”

As many angry demonstrators holding signs such as “Boris Johnson is a pro rogue” or “Liar Johnson put the ‘ROGUE’ in ‘PRO-ROGUE’” (pictured) over the last few weeks have pointed out, at first glance, the word ‘prorogue’ looks and sounds like a combination of the prefix “pro-” (before something) and the adjective ‘rogue’ (unpredictable, dishonest, etc.).

The “pro” in “prorogue” is not a shortening of “professional”, with the OED confirming that, much more boringly, in this case, it is the prefix discussed above, in the sense of “Forward, onward, in a course or in time”; this leads to the “rogue” part, surely this is just the word “rogue”?!

Going back to Latin via the route of Anglo-Norman and Middle French, we get to rogāre, to ask, according the OED, and we are directed to “see rogation n.”, with multiple senses including the acts of begging and of making a formal request.

Turning to the origin of the word ‘rogue’, the OED tells us that the earliest recorded sense is “An idle vagrant, a vagabond; one of a group or class of such people. Now archaic or historical.”, but admits that the origin is unknown, suggesting that it may be related to “roger n.”, an obsolete word for a beggar pretending to be from Oxford or Cambridge, with the OED telling us that some have suggested that this was actually pronounced like the word “rogue” instead of the name “roger”, but that there is no supporting evidence for any of this, or that the words are even related, and that “an etymological connection with the family of classical Latin rogāre (see rogation n.) is unlikely.”, bringing us full circle.

So, it would seem that, whilst the OED is of the opinion that a connection between ‘prorogue’ and ‘rogue’ is unlikely, there are some similar senses for both words relating to the acts of begging or asking, meaning that there could be some connection along the line. For now, this case remains unsolved.


Teaching English in Nepal

by Hannah Powell

[For graduates of the level 3 TESOL module, who go on to succeed in the RSA Certificate TEFLA, we have an ongoing relationship with The UWE/ British College in Nepal, who are willing to take one of our students for their first job opportunity every year.  Our second UWE graduate on this scheme is now happily teaching pre-UWE undergraduates in Nepal. To read about the fantastic experience available, read Hannah’s blog attached. For details of this scheme contact rebecca.fong@uwe.ac.uk   or see our university link here: http://info.uwe.ac.uk/news/uwenews/news.aspx?id=2179 ]

Namaste! I have decided to write a blog for prospective teachers who are thinking about doing a CELTA course and coming here to the partner university, The British College (TBC), in Kathmandu. That said, this is relevant for anyone who is considering either doing a CELTA generally and teaching, or if you are considering coming to Nepal. Continue reading

What is a resit – and what do those abbreviations mean?

by Jeanette Sakel

If you passed all of your modules this year: congratulations, and no need to read on. If you have to resit a module (for example because you failed a component of the module or did not attend an exam due to extenuating circumstances), I hope that this explanation will help.

You’ll get your overall results next week – they are due on the 24th of June. You may learn that part of your assessment has been ‘condoned’, i.e. that you failed a part of your course, but you have been excused and will be able to carry on. This is very rare, though, and please see me if you want a detailed explanation as to why that is.

In most cases, you will have to ‘resit’ the module you failed. There are different types of resit, here explained by our own UWE admin team:

“The definition of a resit is an assessment in the event of a failure, with or without further class attendance, having failed to reach the required pass standard at the first sit. Continue reading

A cure for the tip of the tongue phenomenon

by Zoe Egan

My dissertation focussed upon the tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) phenomenon – a psycholinguistic research area. We all experience TOTs to varying degrees and the majority don’t really take any notice of them but for some people, they are really frustrating.

A TOT is a word that we are unable to retrieve even though we are 100% sure that we know what the word is. For example, you might be asked for the surname of the royal family. You know it. You 100% know it. The name may have popped into your head and then suddenly disappeared without a trace. You may know the initial letter or the number of syllables in the name but STILL cannot produce the word in full. This is a TOT experience.

The reason for my interest in TOT research is mainly due to my mum. In 2008, my mum endured a severe bicycle accident where she badly hit the right side of her head (no helmet L), broke several bones, and damaged a lot of skin tissue. Nasty. At the time, the doctor concluded that no brain damage had occurred. Yet, over the last four years my mum has noticed deterioration in her language capabilities: mainly a heightened frequency of TOT experiences. This was becoming a serious issue for my mum as she often felt nervous and stupid in conversation, as she was unable to retrieve basic lexicon. My dissertation therefore focussed on finding a “cure” for her. Continue reading

Winners of this year’s project prize

by Jeanette Sakel
Each year we award a prize to the language (Linguistics / English Language) project that has impressed us the most, usually a project that gained a very high mark, looked at a phenomenon in a novel way (or even came up with a new area of research) and, in some cases, even showed impact beyond the project itself, in that others can make use of the results. This year we had two projects that fulfilled all three of these criteria, with a range of very good runner ups! So, the best project (Bristol Centre for Linguistics) prize is shared this year, between Zoe Egan and Sandeep Sond.
Zoe’s project is about “Tip-of-the-tongue Phenomenon: A case study”. Sandeep’s project is entitled “Fathers gesture too”. Both will prepare a blog entry for us, so we can all read about their research.
Well done, Sandee and Zoe, as well as our other project students. We had some truly outstanding projects this year, which were a joy to read!

Summer reading -UPDATED 6.8.2014

by Jeanette Sakel

I know you’ve probably got other things to do (like lying on the beach, sipping cool drinks and meeting up with friends), but if you would like to read a bit about the stuff you’ll be doing next year, here are lists of suggested reading. Please note that this post will be added to as and when I hear back from colleagues.

Please note: this is not the ‘ultimate’ list yet, and changes may very well occur. Yet, for summer reading, this list is perfect and should keep you occupied for a while 🙂


Incoming students, Level 1


  • Yule The study of languageLINK
  • Jones, R. H. (2012) Discourse Analysis. London: Routledge
  • Kress, G. R., &  Van Leeuwen, T. (2006) Reading images: the grammar of visual design. London: Routledge
  • Pullum. 2005. A student’s introduction to English grammar. Cambridge: CUP.

Those on English Language and Linguistics (additional texts):

  • Sakel & Everett Linguistic Fieldwork Cambridge University Press: LINK
  • Meyerhoff, M Introducing Sociolinguistics: LINK
  • recommended: R. Lieber Introducing Morphology CUP: LINK
  • recommended: R. Coates Word Structure: LINK
  • Baker, P. (2009) Contemporary Corpus Linguistics. London: Continuum
  • Coulthard, M. and  Johnson, A. (2007) An Introduction to Forensic Linguistics: Language in Evidence, Oxford, Routledge
  • Ashby, Patricia. 2011. Understanding phonetics. London: Hodder.
  • Yule, George. 2008. Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Finding employment after your degree

by Jeanette Sakel

For a few years now, we have been very targeted in preparing our students for their graduate employability. And the work seems to be paying off. Here UWE’s English Language and Linguistics degree is features on ITV news – with our own Sandeep Sond (soon to be graduate in English Language and Linguistics) talking about getting a graduate-level job upon graduation. Well done, Sandee!

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!




Assessment: how to do well

by Jeanette Sakel

With the end of the term looming and the assessment period to begin just after Easter, I thought it would be a good idea to share a draft chapter from one of my new books on Assessment – how to do well. It is the first draft of this chapter for the book Study Skills for Linguistics, which will be published by Routledge in the Understanding Language series (most likely in early 2015). It’s quite a short chapter (8 single-space or 11 1.5-spaced pages), but it’s packed full of information on small things you can implement to do well.

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