Class of 2016 Graduation Celebration

Students graduating this year are invited to a celebration following the Graduation ceremony on Thursday 24 November 2016.

Please join staff and fellow graduates and their families and friends in the FCH Chapel for tea, and the presentation of prizes, from 2.00 – 3.00pm.

RSVP to School of Humanities: humanities@glos.ac.uk by Friday 4 November, indicating numbers attending.

We look forward to seeing you then.

Kind regards.

Dr Dave Webster (Acting Head of School 2015-16) and all the staff in the School of Humanities 2015-16

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Jonathan Marshall writes some short articles on the origins of place-names

Jonathan published six short articles over the Summer on the etymologies of place-names along the Thames-Severn canal system. The mini-series appeared in ‘The Trow’, the official magazine of the Cotswold Canals Trust.

Anyone interested in the history of the Stroudwater Canal and the Thames and Severn Canal will notice that we have some intriguing place names along the route. Place names are fun to investigate, because they can give us some fairly good clues about the cultural heritage of an area. The study of the origins of words is called etymology, and of course that includes any word, not just place names. Almost every place name carries an older original meaning underneath its modern form, and that meaning would have been clear to people in past times. There is a linguistic richness and diversity behind each one, and sometimes it is difficult to uncover the origin of a particular place name. In England, we have place names with their origins in Old English, Old Danish, Old Norse, Cornish, Norman French, Latin, and ancient Celtic. Many of us may have wondered about the origins of the name of our home town, or of a place that we pass regularly. Modern place names could be seen as ‘linguistic fossils’, as they originated as living units of the language, coined by our distant ancestors to describe such features as their topography, geography, appearance, situation, use, ownership or some other association. Most have, over time, been pronounced differently, shortened, and generally lost the link to their original meaning.

One thing to bear in mind is that English used to sound quite different to what it does now. The consonants and vowels have both changed gradually over time. For example, we used to have a consonant, usually represented in spelling by an ‘h’, in words such as ‘hring’ (ring) and ‘hrafn’ (raven). That consonant was pronounced as a ‘voiceless velar fricative’, like the one in the German word ‘auch’ and in the Scottish pronunciation of the word ‘loch’. It slowly weakened and fell away in words such as ‘through’, ‘thought’, etc. and changed into an ‘f’ sound in ’laugh’, ‘rough’, etc. Our vowels were more like those in German and Dutch. If you imagine a Northern English pronunciation of a e i o u in ‘cast’, ‘best’, ‘seat’, ‘goat’ and ‘cup’, you will not be far off. The low vowel used in the south of England in ‘cup’ did not exist yet. Also, all sounds were pronounced, so we didn’t have for example ‘silent e’ at the end of words.

Upper Framilode

One of the place-names near the north-western end of the canal is Upper Framilode, which has the Celtic river name ‘fram’, meaning ‘fair, fine’, followed by the Old English word ‘gelad’, meaning ‘difficult crossing’. That gives us ‘difficult crossing over the fair river’. One can see how, over many generations, the pronunciation has changed from ‘framgelad’ to the modern one, as the hard ‘g’ softened and then vanished, and as the vowel in the second syllable moved back in the mouth from ‘a’ to ‘o’. The latter mutation is seen elsewhere, in words like ‘lang – long’ and ‘ald – old’, which appear in place names, too.

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Guest talk from Prof. Andrew Goatly

On Thursday, Andrew Goatly, honorary professor at Lingnan University, gave an invited speech entitled Grammar and the human nature relationship in environmental discourse and poetry for English Language and Linguistics students.

The talk was delivered with passion and clarity; yet also gave a highly technical, linguistic overview, which highlighted role of language in building our somewhat arrogant relationship with the environment, and how we use it to escape agency in the destruction of the world around us.

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Diwali Day Invitation 

English Language and Linguistics students are invited to a trip to celebrate Diwali in Leicester on Sunday 30 October 2016.

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Diwali celebrations in Leicester are one of the biggest outside of India, with over 37,000 people attending the 2015 switch on of the lights on Belgrave Road and more attending Diwali Day itself, in the heart of the city’s Asian community. This year, Leicester’s world famous Diwali celebrations promise to be more spectacular and dazzling than ever, with new additions for 2016 including a Diwali Village on Cossington Street Recreation Ground, an aerial firework display above Belgrave Road and an exciting two-week events programme across the city including dance, music, theatre and exhibitions. Enquiries:  dwebster@glos.ac.uk

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Third year students workshop the consequences of globalisation 🌍🌎🌏

What a wonderful first week back it’s been. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching World Englishes to the third year students on Monday and hearing all about their dissertation ideas. I also sat in on Forensic Linguistics which was great. Remember, you can always sit-in on other lectures to get a feel for what’s to come, or simply have a look at and enjoy the modules you aren’t writing an essay for! Don’t forget there is a post for a Social Media Rep up for grabs, and it’s a wonderful chance to learn, and add value to your CV!

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Start of year message from Arran

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This week during induction week I was very pleased to meet the new students – a really friendly and enthusiastic group. I’d like to welcome them all to the university and welcome back the second and third year students. I spent the summer working on a European Union funded project, preparing materials to help school teachers in the UK, Italy, Slovenia and Turkey integrate ecolinguistics and environmental education in their courses. This involved a research visit to Monza, Italy and I’ll be going to Slovenia next month. I also gave guest talks in Munich and Catania (Sicily) and gave a presentation at a discourse analysis conference. To relax I’ve been building a very small summer house out of bits of left-over wood – not finished yet – and working with the local community to save some fields around the village I live in.  I’m really looking forward to teaching this year and will see you all next week.

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Everyman Theatre trip

On Wednesday, English Language students went on a fascinating behind the scenes tour of the Everyman theatre, followed by tea and scones.

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