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Negotiation of the floor

In general, only one person can hold the floor in a conversation. When a debate is taking place, there are often periods where negotiation of the floor occurs. The current speaker will use rhetorical devices to try and maintain the… Continue Reading →

Slip of the tongue

Slips of the tongue can be useful for understanding the psycholinguistic processing of speech output. Here is an interesting slip that occurred with a news reader on the BBC.

Quote of the week:

Interviewer: Are the Brexit talks in chaos, or are the actually making reasonable progress?"

Juncker: "They are."

Jean-Claude Juncker, 24th November, 2017

 

Interviewer: Are the Brexit talks in chaos, or are the actually making reasonable progress?” Juncker: “They are.” Jean-Claude Juncker, 24th November, 2017  

Trite journalism?

Is it “trite journalism” to ask the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer what the country pays on its national debt? Should the shadow chancellor have these figures to hand, or can he rely on an iPad or advisor to tell… Continue Reading →

Quote of the week

"Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat’?"

Donald Trump, 12th November, 2017

 

“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat’?” Donald Trump, 12th November, 2017  

Make your contribution such as it is required…

TV presenters in a political interview have the privilege of asking the questions, but what do you do when your interviewee refuses to answer outright and brushes up against the Cooperative Principle? This is what Kay Burley, Sky News presenter,… Continue Reading →

Pausing as a marker of equivocation intentions

Pausing briefly while speaking is a natural part of delivery. We pause for several reason. The most obvious one is to take breath so we can carry on speaking. Some pauses occur before content words or complex clauses suggesting that… Continue Reading →

Quote of the week

"Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

Donald Trump, 19th September 2017

 

'Rocket man' is Trump's moniker for Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.

The Unated Nations!

For a brief moment, the world thought that Donald Trump had renamed the United Nations when he called them the Unated Nations during his speech to the General Assembly. This slip of the tongue occurred due to ‘anticipation’ which is when… Continue Reading →

Quote of the week

 

"That’s not answer evasion. That’s just giving a different answer from the one the interviewer wants.”

Theresa May, 8th September 2017

Test Match Special, BBC, 8th September 2017

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/geoffre...

Ticking and Clicking

Slips of the tongue are a normal part of speech. It is very difficult for anyone to speak at length without stumbling over their words briefly. This is particularly true for television commentators as this Sky correspondent (Mark Stone) found… Continue Reading →

Charlie Mullins

The word ‘twat’ has a checkered history in the English language. Originally coined to mean ‘female genitalia’, although famously misued by Robert Browning in his poem ‘Pippa Passes’ (1841), it has recently been used to refer to an ‘obnoxious or… Continue Reading →

Eye gaze

When participating in a conversation, eye gaze can be an important part of the communication process. Our eyes signal the channel of communication: who we are talking to. But it is not always possible to control this, as Diane Abbot… Continue Reading →

Quote of the week

“I think it’s always a good idea to have the answers much shorter than the questions”

Michael Gove, 2nd July 2017

Said on the Andrew Marr show

Speech perception is fast!

Speech perception is fast, really fast. It has been demonstrated that the human ear and mind can decode around 20 phonemes per second. That is about 20 speech sounds! However, when it comes to decoding non-speech sounds such as buzzes,… Continue Reading →

Pitch & Tone

Difference Between Pitch and Tone The difference between pitch and tone is very small and not easy to understand. Don’t worry if you still don’t understand after reading this – it will take some time before you do. Pitch is… Continue Reading →

Bull’s Typology of Equivocation (part 2)

Jessica Bott continues her series on ‘equivocation’: When a politician is equivocating there are multiple ways they can avoid answering a question. Often a politician will have a preferred way to equivocate and avoid using some of Bull’s categories. In… Continue Reading →

Bull’s Typology of Equivocation (part 1)

Jessica Bott continues her series on ‘equivocation’: When a politician is equivocating there are multiple ways they can avoid answering a question. In Bull and Mayer’s study of Thatcher and Kinnock interviews in 1993 they categorised these into eleven super-ordinate… Continue Reading →

Detachment

Emily Maitlis interviewed the Prime Minister, Theresa May, on Newsnight last night regarding the Grenfell Tower fire disaster. The Prime Minister had been criticised for not talking to the residents of the area when she had visited the site during… Continue Reading →

Quote of the week:

David Cameron was a reassuringly dishonest character.

Audience member, BBC Question Time (9/6/2017)

Transcript:

Jeremy Corbyn is a very angry misguided person
who a...

Face management

When discussing equivocation it is worth first considering the concepts of face-management and self-presentation. Face management originated with Erving Goffman who described it as “an image of self-delineated in terms of approved social attributes” (Goffman 1967:5). This concept has been… Continue Reading →

Quote of the week:

Enough is enough.

Theresa May, 4TH June 2017

Theresa May uttered these words as a response to the latest terrorist attack in London the previous evening. The sentence is a “tautology” in that it do...

Use of pitch range

When making an oral presentation, a skilled presenter will use the full pitch range in order to structure and segment their monologue. Pitch can be useful in a presentation to highlight, among other things, the division of the talk into… Continue Reading →

Bollocks!

Using profanity during a political interview is usually a ‘no-no’ for politicians, especially during a general election when you are trying to put yourself forward as a potential foreign secretary, as Emily Thornberry was on the Andrew Marr show on… Continue Reading →

Andrew Neil interviews Theresa May

Andrew Neil interviewed the Prime Minister, Theresa May, on Monday. Neil held back from his typical ‘bull-dog’ style attack that is a regular feature of his Daily and Sunday Politics programmes. Politicians often leave with visible ‘bite marks’ from these… Continue Reading →

Bollocks!

Using profanity during a political interview is usually a ‘no-no’ for politicians, especially during a general election when you are trying to put yourself forward as a potential foreign secretary, as Emily Thornberry was on the Andrew Marr show on… Continue Reading →

Abbott’s shaky abacus

Numbers and costings are notoriously difficult themes during election time when the pressure to rattle off the top of the head a list of figures without so much as a “hesitation, deviation or repetition” is applied to hapless politicians who… Continue Reading →

The significance of hesitations

Hesitation in delivery is a normal part of spoken discourse, especially in stressful speaking situations, and is normally discarded by listeners. In the House of Commons however, just before a demanding election campaign and when a manifesto is being prepared,… Continue Reading →

Quote of the week

They are strong against the weak, and weak against the strong.

Jeremy Corbyn, 26th April 2017

They are strong against the weak, and weak against the strong. Jeremy Corbyn, 26th April 2017

1.3 seconds is a long time

Pausing in a political interview can be taken the wrong way and have consequences for the ensuing discourse. Here is Emily Thornberry (ET) pausing for 1.3 seconds (line 05) during a TV interview on Channel 4 news with Jon Snow… Continue Reading →

Intonation 4 – Pitch Dynamism Quotient

Pitch Dynamism Quotient is a measure of the variation a speaker has in the pitch of their voice over a length of speech. It can be considered as a measure of the ‘liveliness’ (Hincks, 2004) a speaker puts into their… Continue Reading →

Pitch Dynamism Quotient

Pitch Dynamism Quotient is a measure of the variation a speaker has in the pitch of their voice over a length of speech. It can be considered as a measure of the ‘liveliness’ (Hincks, 2004) a speaker puts into their… Continue Reading →

Intonation 3 – Use of pitch range

When making an oral presentation, a skilled presenter will use the full pitch range in order to structure and segment their monologue. Pitch can be useful in a presentation to highlight, among other things, the division of the talk into… Continue Reading →

Use of pitch range

When making an oral presentation, a skilled presenter will use the full pitch range in order to structure and segment their monologue. Pitch can be useful in a presentation to highlight, among other things, the division of the talk into… Continue Reading →

The story is bigger than the words

Political flashpoints often arise and are sustained when participants in the story refuse to listen to what has actually been said by someone. This seems to be the case of Ken Livingstone who has recently been suspended from the Labour… Continue Reading →

Cueing your own ‘revealing ah’

Can a politician cue their own ‘revealing ah’? Theresa May appeared to do this at Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday in the House.

Equivocation & hesitation

There is a good example here of a politician being put in a tight corner on spending by the interviewer and having to equivocate. In the second part the pressure to equivocate is revealed in the increased hesitation in the… Continue Reading →

Pantomime time for the Revealing ‘ah’

Here is a nice example of the revealing ‘ah’ by backbench MPs in support of Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs. A revealing ‘ah’ is a comment made by a few members of the chamber in order to back up and support… Continue Reading →

No-no-no Chorus

A no-no-no chorus in the House of Commons is an echoing by Members of the chamber of the current speakers words in order to reinforce the points and create impact. An example of this was given in Prime Minister’s questions… Continue Reading →

“swathes of the country”

“swathes of the country” is a noun phrase (NP). “swathes” is the head noun. This head is post-modified by “of the country”. This phrase is a prepositional phrase (PP) with head “of” and “compliment “the country”. “the country” is NP… Continue Reading →

Dodging questions

The weekend seemed to be the time for dodging questions for politicians up and down the politician spectrum. Theresa May was dodging questions on a nuclear missile test. Jeremy Corbyn was dodging questions on whether he would use whips in… Continue Reading →

Some Presentation Tips

So, you’ve chosen to do Language in the Mind for your final year in university. (Either that or it was one of the mandatory modules you had to do if you chose the Language and Literature route). Good for you…. Continue Reading →

What colour is Brexit?

If Brexit were a colour, what colour would it be? Are you dreaming of a ‘white’ Brexit meaning we get everything we hoped for? Or is your Brexit ‘black’ meaning we get out of Europe as quickly as possible with… Continue Reading →

Brexit is bacon and eggs!

Andrew Davies seems to have infected others with his ‘Brexit is breakfast’ slip of the tongue. Here is Andrew Neil, the BBC presenter, producing a similar slip of the tongue on the Daily Politics programme while interviewing Gavin Barwell.

Down, down, down!

Jeremy Corbyn was met with a ‘down-down-down’ chorus from his own backbenchers at Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday. They were not calling for him to step down however! On the contrary, they were showing their support for their leader as… Continue Reading →

Gove: “It was a mistake”

MPs sometimes have to eat humble pie and admit that they have made a mistake. In an earlier blog, I showed how Michael Gove MP used all his political rhetoric to make a historic U-turn on running for the Conservative… Continue Reading →

Slip of the tongue

A slip of the tongue from Jeremy Corbyn during PMQs.

The semantics and pragmatics of ‘Brexit means Brexit’

We have been tracking the use of the slogan ‘Brexit means Brexit’ at neutralfooting. At Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday we learnt a little more about its use though the Prime Minister who originally coined this soundbite.

Oy you, spit out your gum and shut up!

Politeness in the House of Commons takes on many forms but is often exhibited through off-record, negative and positive politeness. Here is an excellent example of how the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, avoids direct face-threatening language as he… Continue Reading →

Quote of the week

You know what some people call them? The nasty party.

Theresa May, 5th October 2016

Theresa May some years previous had used the term 'the nasty party' to refer to her own party (The Conservatives). Here she turns the 'gun' around and p...

Brexit means breakfast!

Slips of the tongue can be embarrassing for the speaker at the best of times but often provide light relief for the audience. So it was with the Welsh Conservative leader, Andrew Davies, who was speaking at the Conservative party… Continue Reading →

Quote of the week

The problem was that while those in my party were relaxing many of those “filthy rich” were not paying the taxes they should have been.

Who said this on 15th September 2016?

Answer: Jeremy Corbyn

Strategies for holding the floor

Holding the floor in the House of Commons during PMQs is not easy. With noise, shouting and barracking from members of the chamber, it can be quite easy for the current speaker at the dispatch box to become ruffled. This… Continue Reading →

Equivocation – the first penalty shoot-out of the season

Just as the new football season gets underway with the same old tricks and moves, so the new political seasons kicks off this week. Andrew Neil (Daily Politics interviewer) went up against David Gauke (Conservative MP) in the first penalty… Continue Reading →

One Experience, Different Perspectives

It only took a two-week course to discover how a journey outside my country can change me, my views and my perspectives towards many things in life and how much I am fortunate to be a part of sweet eternal… Continue Reading →

Oral presentation by random French girl

I am here in Britain for the summer school experience in Coventry and I really got impressed to see that some topics are universal. I have known through my linguistics courses in France that the body language could be, in… Continue Reading →

The power of the eyes

In face-to-face communication, the eyes (and eye gaze) are the most powerful part of the body we have. John McDonnell illustrated this on Sunday when he directly turned to the camera during an interview on the Andrew Marr show (BBC)…. Continue Reading →

How to hit your audience attention!

Being in front of number of people, presenting a topic in any area is a piece of art that you must be trained enough to succeed in. A successful presenter is a person who really attracts you from the first… Continue Reading →

Tetchiness from Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn got a little ‘tetchy’ in his interview with Jackie Long on Channel 4 news yesterday. Corbyn seems to have these moments when being interviewed on national TV particularly when he is running for a leadership contest. Here he… Continue Reading →

Quote of the week:

Remain means remain

Angus Robertson, 20th July 2016

Remain means remain Angus Robertson, 20th July 2016

PMQs watch: Theresa May’s first outing – a touch of Thatcher perhaps?

Theresa May delivered her first Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon and came through the event relatively unscathed with a touch of “Thatcher” to her performance as some commentators noted. Her former boss, David Cameron, developed… Continue Reading →

May’s first PMQs

Theresa May, the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will perform her first Prime Minister’s questions (PMQs) on Wednesday in the House of Commons. PMQs is known to be a testing ground for new Prime Minister’s and leaders –… Continue Reading →

Quote of the week

I was the future once.

David Cameron, PMQs, July 2016

I was the future once. David Cameron, PMQs, July 2016

PMQs Watch: Humour at Cameron’s last PMQs

Politicians are not noted for their stand-up comedy routines, but there was plenty of good humour at David Cameron’s last Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Many of the jokes were scripted and some fell a… Continue Reading →

Five telling moments from David Cameron at PMQs

David Cameron will take part in his last PMQs as Prime Minister on Wednesday. Cameron has been at the dispatch box answering questions most Wednesday afternoons since he became PM in 2010, although he spent several years asking questions as Leader… Continue Reading →

It’s language, stupid!

A scene in The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien has three trolls bickering and quarrelling all night until the light of the dawn comes up and turns them into stone. Gandalf, the wise wizard, had unknowingly kept them arguing all night…. Continue Reading →

Tone in Chinese

Chinese (Mandarin) has four different tones numbered 1 to 4: high level, rising, fall-rise and falling. These tones are often shown on the top of the vowel in the Pinyin systems for writing Chinese (eg. mā to indicate high level… Continue Reading →

Clauses

Structure of the Clause What is a clause? All languages are able to talk about ‘things’. That is, we can talk about things such as dogs, chairs, democracy, etc. And all languages are able to say what happened to these… Continue Reading →

Punctuation

Punctuation is the use of small typographical symbols ( .  , ; :  ) to segment and conjoin textual items at the morphological, lexical, phrasal and clausal level. Grammar is enabled through good punctuation and punctuation is eased with correct… Continue Reading →

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

Is this a sentence? If so, what is the first NP? Where is the VP? “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” At first it looks odd but let’s replace the words with more familiar ones.

Genericness (NPs)

Noun phrases can be said to have generic reference if they refer to the class of objects represented by the head noun as a whole rather that one or a subset of members. Thus in: The tiger is a fearsome… Continue Reading →

‘The next bus’

‘The next bus’ Headnoun – ‘bus’ Determiner phrase ‘The next’ = Central determiner (the) + Postdeterminer (next)

Knock knock

Knock knock Who’s there? Grandma Grandma who?

Oral presentations, Erasmus and my piece of advice

Hello, My name is Maria and I am an Erasmus student from Spain. This year I have been studying at Coventry University, this means that I have had to attend to classes which are taught in English, as well as… Continue Reading →

What is a mind?

Language is the DNA of the mind. I have a mind. That I am pretty sure of. But how do I know that you, the reader, has a mind? How can I be sure that anyone except myself in this… Continue Reading →

Animal Language: Separation of a kind or degree? (part 2)

Part 1 of this article is here. Language, Communication and Thought For the linguist, the opportunity to redefine the question of whether apes can be taught the rudiments of a language is perhaps a good chance for him to come… Continue Reading →

PMQs Watch

Corbyn negotiates with the Chamber The example below is a good example of how the current speaker at the dispatch box, Jeremy Corbyn in this case, often has to negotiate with the chamber to establish their rights to the floor…. Continue Reading →

An app that can read your mind or maybe not?

By Daniel Hartworth Swift Key Neural: the world’s first smartphone keyboard software that uses an artificial neural network to predict and correct language. Swift Key Blog is here Swift key are an software company, most notably known for their original,… Continue Reading →

Animal Language: Separation of a kind or degree? (Part 1)

Language is one of the most precious elements we have. It is so precious that it has been the centrepiece of a struggle by various branches of the sciences to discover its origins and define it for many generations. The… Continue Reading →

The Genes of Mother Nature (Origins of Language)

If this sentence represents a theory of language evolution in the human species, then the full stop at the end represents the fossil records that we have on which the theory rests. It is no surprise that the Societe de… Continue Reading →

How much does language weigh?    (A thought experiment)

How much does language weigh? Can we measure its volume. The lack of answers to these fundamental questions should give us pause for thought as to its status in the universe.

Analysis of Jimmy Carr Joke

The general theory of verbal humour (GTVH) is a theory which attempts to explain how a joke works and why it is funny. The theory only refers to ‘verbal’ humour and not other forms such as slapstick comedy. The basic… Continue Reading →

Does the Andromeda Galaxy disappear after you finish reading this question?

Read the following sentence: Does the Andromeda Galaxy disappear after you finish reading this question? What is your answer? Some of you may say ‘yes’, many I expect will say ‘no’. Others might ask what is the ‘Andromeda Galaxy’? Well… Continue Reading →

Review of Mollin and how it links to our research

Before undertaking our research, we looked at a previous study relating to the investigation into the accuracy and representation of Hansard as a political database. Mollin (2007) looked at the suitability of Hansard transcripts as a corpus resource whereby she… Continue Reading →

Hello

Hello, This website is designed for students on module 313DEL Language and the Mind at Coventry University. The website is run by the module leader, Mike Cribb. On this site you will find blogs and articles relating to the topics and issues… Continue Reading →

Handling Questions

After a presentation, there is usually a period of time when the audience is able to ask you questions. It is important during this time that you: stay professional don’t relax too much answer the questions to the best of… Continue Reading →

Intonation 2 – the tone unit

In my previous post on intonation, I talked about the phonological paragraph and how intonation can be used to segment these in a presentation. This is an important device that an expert presenter will use to give their talk structure… Continue Reading →

To steeple or not to steeple?

I often give advice to my students on body language when they are preparing for oral presentations. One important aspect of body language is gestures: what we do with our hands and arms as we speak? Do we put them… Continue Reading →

Intonation

Intonation can be defined as the rise and fall of the pitch of the voice over a group of words, usually called a ‘tone unit’. A tone unit is a group of words (but can be a single word) under… Continue Reading →

STUDENT BLOG: The art of public speaking

I refer to it as an art, because speaking, or presenting, in front of an audience can be a similar experience to acting, which is an art. Speaking in public is an experience that gives you the chance to create…. Continue Reading →

STUDENT BLOG: Doing a presentation can be…

… incredibly nerve-wracking and stressful, especially if you’re the kind of person (like me) who hates standing up in front of people. In fact I believe it’s more worrying to stand up in front of people you know, because as… Continue Reading →

Something sometime

Cry Woman walking We live by faith Corona Corona Circles of Hell

Using this site

This site contains a lot of information in the form of blogs (posts), pages, documents and audio. Only a limited amount can be shown on the homepage. It is useful, therefore, to have an oversight of the structure and organisation… Continue Reading →

What’s with the title?

In 1941, Hannah Arendt, a Jewish political theorist, escaped Nazi-controlled Europe and emigrated to the United States. As an immigrant in an English-speaking country, she lamented the loss of her German mother tongue and the ‘productivity’ it had afforded her…. Continue Reading →

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