Y13 English Language do university!

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Mrs Jones, Miss Clarke, myself and the year 13 A Level class took a trip down to Liverpool Hope University to receive a lecture about English Language. The lecture gave us an insight into sexism in language, political/ courtroom language and multilingualism.

What stood out to me personally was the lecture about sexism in language, that I personally feel this is an important topic to be discussed, in this school (due to the majority of the population being girls) and in the wider world. Rather than boring you all to death with the ins and outs of the lecture and the political discussion about courtroom banter which included plenty of sexism about women only caring about how they dress, between Harriet Harman and William Hague- who I realise most of you won’t even know who they are. So I’ll discuss the other parts of the lecture.

One interesting feature of lecture was a mention of a campaign headed by non-other than the queen herself… no not Elizabeth- Beyoncé. The campaign was to ban the word ‘bossy’ from our lexicon as it has differentiating connotations between the genders. For example when a woman is called ‘bossy’ she is shown in a negative light, a bit power hungry, unladylike and intense. Where if a man was called ‘bossy’ it’s considered normal, but even then the word isn’t often used for men anyway. The discussion covered feminism and how things such as Beyoncé’s comment at the end of the campaign ad ‘I’m not bossy, I’m the boss’ shows feminism in a negative light by contradicting itself. We discussed how words can be gender based and the reform and social construction of meaning. Basically, how a word can be pinned to a gender, and how these are accepted socially because of the built in patriarchy and sexism in our language. This may sound boring to a lot of you, but trust me it’s interesting!

One thing from the lecture that will stick with me is this quote that “one finds a perfectly innocent term designated to a girl or a woman may begin with totally neutral or even positive connotation, but gradually acquires negative implications” – Schulz.

What this means is words like Bachelor and Spinster, meaning an unmarried adult for male and female..yet Spinster is used as an insult in literature throughout the years, and a bachelor is glorified so much in society even to the point of having its own TV show. Now I’m not saying don’t watch The Bachelor because its sexist and damages the English Language, but the whole point of the lecture was to show us that language is sexist and does cater more to the male use of the language. In short we use sexist language daily to communicate and that there are different types of language for different situations e.g. A courtroom or an advert with Queen B in.

If you found any of this remotely interesting, maybe English Language is for you? There are many other subjects to cover in English Language though, so if you don’t like the sound of that, maybe some of the other topics could suit you! After all the English Language is what you make of it! So if this sounds like your thing, maybe you should head over to the English department for more information. If you didn’t find it interesting, perhaps you would interest you such as how texting affects the language or where new words come from.

Hannah
Year 13