language

Most Popular Book Week Costume “The Super Competitive Mum Who Has To Be Best At Everything”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 19/08/2019 - 8:08am in

Mums

Characters from the best selling children’s book “The Super Competitive Mum Who Has To Be Best At Everything” are once again the most popular choice of costume for Book Week.

“We’re expecting to see heaps of students turning up dressed as The Kid Whose Mum Owns A Top Of The Line Sewing Machine and The Kid Whose Dad Reckons There Must Be A Book Version Of The Spiderman Movie So That’s What You’re Wearing,” said Daisy Letraset, sixth class teacher at Penshurst North Primary School. “I’m still hoping to see someone dressed up as an old favourite like That Nerdy Kid Who Actually Enjoys Going To The Library And Foolishly Made Their Own Costume.”

“Book Week is important because it encourages kids to look at books in a new light, specifically as another means to prove their superiority over their less popular classmates,” said headmaster Paul Chalkdust. “It’s great to see kids who’ve never picked up a book before discovering that books can be used to bring down further humiliation upon those kids whose parents aren’t very good at craft work.”

“Book Week always leads to great sales for my book “The Kid Who Only Told His Parents The Night Before That Book Week Is On And Has To Make Something Out Of Pool Noodles”,” said children’s book author Sally Blurb. “I’m already working on the sequel, “Spotlight Only Has A Pirate Costume Left, There Must Be A Book With A Pirate Character In It”, which I hope to have in all good book shops by next year.”

Peter Green
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Cartoon: Populism vs. populism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/07/2019 - 9:50pm in

I've been wanting to talk about the word "populism" for a while, as it's been abused so much in political discourse lately that it has become meaningless and, I would argue, misleading. The term has always been a bit nebulous -- a positive interpretation is "ordinary people vs. the powers that be" or "the grassroots." A less charitable usage is "politicians pandering to the masses" or "rabble-rousing," which is in itself an implicit critique of democracy's potential excesses -- giving the people what they want without regard to the soundness of the policy.

Nowadays, the term is used routinely by journalists to refer to two movements that are pretty much opposites; it has become an empty word that lets journalists off the hook from actually having to describe the content of the political movements to which they are referring. Trump (and Bannon and other right-wing authoritarian leaders around the world) is often referred to as a "populist" because he displays faux concern for the working class and a resentment of science and education, but his policies are in fact grotesquely elitist. If by "populist" we mean whipping up resentment against immigrants and people of color, then we should say that. Otherwise, "populism" is just a lazy euphemism for racism.

Put another way, "populism" has become a tool for false equivalence between corrupt oligarchs and progressive leaders who operate in the traditions of enlightened democracy.

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Mother Tongue

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/05/2019 - 5:00pm in


Growing up, I felt rejected by the language I was “supposed to” know, so I rejected it back.

How English Became English

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 07/05/2016 - 2:28am in

A Book at Lunchtime discussion looking at the English language and how it is developing with Simon Horobin, Faramerz Dabhoiwala, Martin Wynne, Philip Durkin and Susie Dent. The English Language is spoken by more than a billion people throughout the world. But where did English come from? And how has it evolved into the language used today?

Simon Horobin (Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Oxford) explores these questions with Faramerz Dabhoiwala (Associate Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford), Martin Wynne (Digital Methods Specialist, Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford) and Philip Durkin (Deputy Chief Editor, Oxford English Dictionary) in a discussion centered around his new book 'How English Became English'.

The discussion is chaired by Susie Dent (English lexicographer and etymologist. Host of Countdown's "Dictionary Corner") and touches on topics as wide-ranging as cultural imperialism, snobbery, bullet points, Shakespeare, toilet brushes and alphabetti spaghetti.