Americanisms Killing British English?

The BBC has an article on Americanisms killing the English language, which considers the arguments of a new book by Matthew Engel, That’s the Way it Crumbles: The American Conquest of English. Because by English, I mean British English.

Speaking on the wireless in 1935, Alistair Cooke declared that “Every Englishman listening to me now unconsciously uses 30 or 40 Americanisms a day”. In 2017, that number is likely closer to three or four hundred, Engel hazards – more for a teenager, “if they use that many words in a day”.

It’s often pointed out that plenty of these Americanisms were British English to begin with – we exported them, then imported them back. A commonly made case in point is ‘I guess’, which crops up in Chaucer. When Dr Johnson compiled his seminal 1755 dictionary, ‘gotten’ was still in use as a past participle of ‘get’. But as Engel points out, good old English is not good new English. Moreover, his beef isn’t really to do with authenticity; it’s more to do with our unthinking complicity. Because it’s not just the cookies and the closets, or even the garbage, it’s the insidiousness of it all. We’ve already reached the point where most of us can no longer tell whether a word is an Americanism or not. By 2120, he suggests, American English will have absorbed the British version entirely. As he puts it, “The child will have eaten its mother, but only because the mother insisted”.

None of this would matter if these imported words were augmenting our existing vocabulary….Engel quotes researchers behind 2014’s Spoken British National Corpus, who found that the word ‘awesome’ is now used in conversation 72 times per million words. Marvellous, meanwhile, is used just twice per million – down from 155 times a mere 20 years earlier. ‘Cheerio’ and, yes, ‘fortnight’, are apparently staring at the same fate.

Fortnight is an interesting word–which I didn’t learn the exact meaning of for years after I first read it in novels and basically figured it meant “a specific length of time.” Once I realized it was fourteen-nights shortened, it was way easier to remember what it meant, two weeks.

CFP: Composition and Rhetoric

Composition and Rhetoric: Practice (CEA 4/5-4/7/18)

deadline for submissions:
November 1, 2017
College English Association

contact email:
[email protected]

Call for Papers, Composition and Rhetoric: Practice at CEA 2018

April 5-7, 2018 | St. Petersburg, Florida

Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront

333 1st St South, Saint Petersburg, Florida 33701 | Phone: (727) 894-5000

The College English Association, a gathering of scholar-teachers in English studies, welcomes proposals for presentations on Composition and Rhetoric: Practice for our 49th annual conference. Submit your proposal at http://www.cea-web.org

The special topics chair for Rhetoric and Composition: Practice welcomes proposals on a range of topics exploring our writing classrooms, pedagogies, and practices. Proposals may address the following topics:

How can writing courses help students build bridges to other courses and disciplines?
How can course and/or program design help students reach their writerly and academic goals?
How can we use technology to bridge theory and practice in the classroom?
How can first-year composition act as a bridge between high school and college?
Other areas related to rhetoric and composition in the classroom

Conference Theme

CEA welcomes proposals for presentations on the general conference theme: Bridges. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge crosses Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg, called the Sunshine City in honor of its Guinness Record for most consecutive days of sunshine (768). St. Petersburg is home to historic neighborhoods, distinguished museums, contemporary galleries, and a wide variety of dining, entertainment and shopping venues. St. Petersburg is also home to the College English Association’s 2018 national conference, where we invite you to join us at our annual meeting to explore the many bridges that connect places, texts, communities, words, and ideas.

CEA invites proposals from academics in all areas of literature, language, film, composition, pedagogy, and creative, professional, and technical writing. We are especially interested in presentations that build bridges between and among texts, disciplines, people, cultures, media, languages, and generations.

For your proposal you might consider:

Bridges between disciplines, languages, or generations
Bridges between races, classes, cultures, regions, genders, or sexualities.
Cultural or ideological bridges in literary, scholarly, or theoretical works
The bridge as construct, form, metaphor, motif, or icon
Connections between text and images or sound
Bridges between theory and practice, reading and writing, writer and audience
Building bridges between teaching and scholarship; faculty and administrators; professors and students
Bridges as physical artifacts and symbols of industry and technology
Digital humanities as a bridge between worlds
What bridges connect, support, and pass over
General Call for Papers

CEA also welcomes proposals for presentations in any of the areas English departments typically encompass, including literature criticism and scholarship, creative writing, composition, technical communication, linguistics, and film. We also welcome papers on areas that influence our work as academics, including student demographics, student/instructor accountability and assessment, student advising, academic leadership in departments and programs, and the place of the English department in the university.

Submission: August 15-November 1, 2017

For more information on how to submit, please see the full CFP at http://www.cea-web.org

Membership
All presenters at the 2018 CEA conference must become members of CEA by January 1, 2018. To join CEA, please go to http://www.cea-web.org
Other questions? Please email [email protected]

Sincerely,

Catherine Forsa
[email protected]

from UPenn’s CFPs

Upgrade Suggested

Earlier this year I applied for TESOL certification. There were insufficient applications and I was told that my application would be rolled over into the September cohort.

Today I received an email stating that I should apply for the Advanced Practitioner Certification instead, as the basic certification is not aimed at teaching professionals.

Whoo hoo!

CFP: Mythology in Contemporary Culture

Mythology in Contemporary Culture

deadline for submissions:
October 1, 2018
Popular Culture Association
[email protected]

2018 Popular Culture Association (PCA) & American Culture Association (ACA) National Conference
March 28-31, 2018
J.W. Marriott, Indianapolis

MYTHOLOGY IN CONTEMPORARY CULTURE

Call for Papers

The Mythology in Contemporary Culture area is dedicated to exploring mythological stories, figures and themes from all cultures and historical periods in all areas of popular culture. The frequent appearance of mythological motifs in all areas of popular culture speaks to the notion that mythologies, far from being relics of the past, continue to have significance. Contemporary revisionings and reinterpretations of mythological elements reflect the attitudes of current culture. Movies, television, computer games, comics, graphic novels, traditional literature, visual arts, performing arts, politics, blogs—the list goes on–-hold both explicit and implicit renderings of archetypes such as Thor and Athena and Kali, and of mythological narratives such as those found in bodies of sacred literature, classical Greek tragedies, and medieval Grail legends, to name only a few examples.

Proposals that pertain to the general theme of Mythology in Contemporary Culture are welcome. We will consider proposals for individual papers and/or panels organized around a theme. Sessions are 90 minutes, typically with four presenters per session. Presentations should not exceed 15 minutes.

To submit your panel or presentation, go to http://ncp.pcaaca.org and follow the instructions for creating an account and making your submission. All submissions must be made through the conference submission site. General instructions for submitting proposals through the PCA website may be found here: http://pcaaca.org/national-conference-2/proposing-a-presentation-at-the-conference/. For individual papers, please submit a title and 100-250 word abstract. For themed paper sessions, each presenter should enter her/his own proposal and the chair should contact Dr. Rittenhouse to assemble the papers into a panel.

Deadline: October 1, 2017

Questions about the Mythology in Contemporary Culture area may be directed to:

Kate Rittenhouse, Ph. D.
(604) 836-5396
[email protected]

from UPenn’s CFPs

ESL Teacher Orientation

I am teaching an ESL class this semester and had a meeting this morning with the entire faculty of the program.

There are four instructors and two staff/faculty positions involved. I have met three of the six folks previously. Now I have met everyone.

The classroom has been painted, updated, and decorated. It is a very pleasant room. I wish we could do that for all the rooms we teach in. They tend to look very institutional.

I learned quite a bit about the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CERF), which is what we are using to base our assessments on–both incoming and outgoing.

The level of writing that I will be teaching assumes B1.

Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise while traveling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and dreams.

Before they get into on-level classes, they need to achieve C1.

Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors, and cohesive devices.

Students and teachers will all be challenged this semester.

CFP: Embodiment in SFF

Embodiment in Science Fiction and Fantasy Interdisciplinary Conference

deadline for submissions:
October 31, 2017

McMaster University, Department of English and Cultural Studies

[email protected]

Embodiment in Science Fiction and Fantasy Interdisciplinary Conference
May 18-19, 2018
McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Keynote Speakers

Veronica Hollinger, emerita professor, Cultural Studies Department, Trent University, science fiction scholar and co-editor of the journal Science Fiction Studies and collections including Queer Universes: Sexuality in Science Fiction (2008). Parabolas of Science Fiction (2013), and The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction (2010).

Kameron Hurley, the Hugo and Locus Award-winning author of Stars Are Legion (2017), The Geek Feminist Revolution (2016), the Worldbreaker Saga, and The God’s War Trilogy.

In response to the popularity of cyberspace disembodiment of the 80s and 90s, SFF is increasingly concerned with exploring the materiality of bodies. SFF literature, film, television and video games frequently explore how experiences of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and disability inform the construction of identity and influence lived experience; question what it means to be or exceed the human; and consider the agency and nature of nonhuman bodies. This conference will explore the ways in which the body is a focus in SFF, and how the experience and representation of bodies inform how we understand human, post-human, and non-human subjects, and their positionality within material and cultural settings.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers—or panels consisting of three 20-minute papers—addressing topics that include but are not limited to the following:

gender identity
sexuality
race and ethnicity
representations of disability
body modification, cyborgs, clones
post-human and non-human embodiment
technology and the body
metamorphosis and hybridity
bodily experiences of environmental crisis
bodies, space, and geography
pregnancy, birth, aging, death and dying
bodily containment (in spaceships, or exo-skeletons)
environments as bodies, sentient ecological networks
bodily manifestations of the soul or spirit

Please send inquiries and proposals to [email protected] by October 31, 2017.

from UPenn’s CFPs

10 Things About the English Language

An article on the blog for Oxford Dictionaries entitled “Ten Things You Might Not Have Known about the English Language” caught my attention. It’s several years old, but it contains interesting information. The only ones I didn’t know were that -ize was British and not American and how many people are in process of learning English.

During classes that I teach, I often talk about the lack of a language academy that has the ability to decide what is “good” English. While I might have been more in favor of the idea in the past, after I heard that Brazilian Portuguese became the official standard for the Portuguese language, I was much less interested. (Can’t find the source I read that in.)

Only recently (say in the three years) have I learned that Noah Webster decided to Americanize English in order to make it better.

Bartleby quotes Mencken’s The American Language from 1921, saying,

Grounding his [Webster’s] wholesale reforms upon a saying by Franklin, that “those people spell best who do not know how to spell”—i. e., who spell phonetically and logically—he [Webster] made an almost complete sweep of whole classes of silent letters…
A good many of these new spellings, of course, were not actually Webster’s inventions. For example, the change from -our to -or in words of the honor class was a mere echo of an earlier English uncertainty. In the first three folios of Shakespeare, 1623, 1632 and 1663-6, honor and honour were used indiscriminately and in almost equal proportions; English spelling was still fluid, and the -our-form was not consistently adopted until the fourth folio of 1685.

A great many of his innovations, of course, failed to take root, and in the course of time he abandoned some of them himself.

Conferences I Enjoy

Two of the conferences I particularly enjoy are going to be accepting submissions for presentations soon or are already doing so.

Southwest Texas Popular Culture Association will be accepting papers starting August 15 till October 22. The conference is in Albuquerque, NM in February.

Popular Culture Association is accepting papers until October 1. The subject areas define different opportunities. The conference is in Indianapolis, IN at the end of March.

Presentation on Digital Storytelling

I attended a presentation on digital storytelling at the Abilene Writer’s Guild two years ago now. The speaker was teaching a class on Technology as Spirit and discussions of digital storytelling was part of that.

John Weaver introduced the StoryCenter out of Berkeley, CA. They have run several seminars on digital storytelling at Abilene Christian University.

Weaver then presented a theory pyramid showing engagement with technology’s progression for digital storytelling. It is called the Taxonomy of Media Practices

Consumption (bottom of the pyramid)
Intermediated
Constructed in Content
Co-Constructed
Facilitated
Media Creation (The top layer said DIY, but I think that is too broad.)

Weaver also presented the 7 Steps of Digital Storytelling:
1. owning your insight
2. owning your emotion
3. finding a moment of change
4. see the story
5. hear the story
6. assemble the story
7. share the story

I am not sure about “owning insight” and “owning emotion” being first. How can you have an insight if you haven’t thought about your story? But these steps don’t decide on the story until step 3, finding a moment of change.

Weaver said that the StoryCenter has a progressive (i.e., liberal) political and social agenda. This is why, he argues, they focus on change.

Could it instead be that most stories involve movement and change? Characters are dynamic, the plot moves, often even the setting varies.

This is an interesting order for steps as the primary construction of the story begins with images, so that the emphasis is on the visual.

Then, after the visual is assembled, the verbal/aural is created.

Weaver presented an odd description of share the story as he said after the story is assembled (after the video is created) that you consider your audience and the context in which the story will be shared. This is theoretically inaccurate and leaves the story as a wholly author-driven construct, which may not be understood by the audience eventually chosen to receive the story.