Interesting News

Changes in the sociolinguistic situation of RP

According to an often cited statistic there are only 3% of RP speakers in Britain. This minority accent is rather unusual and unique from a sociolinguistic point of view. One of the most interesting things about RP is that it is a totally non-regional accent. This peculiarity must be due to a certain set of sociolinguistic preconditions, Continue reading

Interesting News

Phonetic Features of American English

Due to variation of pitch standard depending on the degree of emotionality of a statement, it’s very interesting to learn a set of heads and registers. It was identified by L. Shakhbakhova for American English. For example, statements with high degree of emotionality are characterized by level and descending heads of high register, wave-like heads with special rise of the middle register and heads with special falls. Level heads where intonation is in middle tone register are typical for speech with low and high degrees of emotionality.

The main feature of American speech according to I. Zhavoronkova is a figure of melodic contour especially in terminal part. During structure and function researches of terminal tones of American speech, she comes to the conclusion that falling, rising and level tones are dominant. Gradually the descending head with falling tone occur in extremely categorical statements and it’s called emphatic intonation.


ЖАВОРОНКОВА И.А. Система терминальных тонов в американском варианте английского языка (экспериментально-фонетическое исследование): Дис. . канд. филол. наук. -М., 1990.-219 с.

ШАХБАГОВА Д.А. Фонетическая система английского языка в диахронии и синхронии (на материале британского, американского, австралийского, канадского вариантов английского языка). М.: Изд-во «Фоллис», 1992. – 284 с.


The Canterbury Tales: the Gallery of the Deadly Sins

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) – “the father of English poetry”, was one of the first who began writing not in Latin but in the vernacular. Little is known about his education, but it may be inferred from his works that he could read in Latin, French and Italian.

Chaucer’s most celebrated work is “The Canterbury Tales” (Middle English: “Tales Of Caunterbury”) [1] written in Middle English. It’s an incomplete collection of 22 verse and two prose stories, united by the general frame: the stories are told by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from Southwark to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. According to Chaucer’s original plan, each of the pilgrims was to tell four stories (two on the outward and two on the homeward way). Continue reading

Interesting News

What Is the Relationship Between Language and Discourse?

Language and discourse are connected at a basic level in that all discourse is constructed with language. The manipulation of language impacts how people interact and respond. Language and discourse are fluid, however, because they both shape and define the culture in which they are present. It is culture that provides much of the meaning for the language that happens within discourse.

Language contains clues about what should come next in a discourse. For example, if someone says “hello,” that person generally expects the other person to say “hello” as well. At the very least, the first person wants an acknowledgement they have spoken, which the second person might give with a nod or other gesture. In this way, language controls some of the direction of discourse.

A main principle behind language and discourse is that, because language controls discourse direction to a large degree, people who learn how to control language learn how to manipulate discourse, as well. This is known as discourse management. By phrasing a question in a very specific way, for example, a person might force another person to respond in a particular way or even to stop the discourse altogether. Control of language thus is a tool for gaining and exercising power over others.

One important connection between language and discourse is that culture dictates language interpretation to a large degree. For example, if someone comes from a very religious Christian area, he might see it as irreverent if someone who isn’t religious uses the phrase “my God” nonchalantly. This can lead to misunderstanding and conflict, hindering discourse and subsequent relationship building. Normally, evidence of the cultural beliefs that drive language and discourse is present elsewhere in a person’s life.

Culture is always changing, and as a result, so is language. What is appropriate discourse at one time might not be appropriate in another time. An example is the use of words and phrases such as “swell” or “it’s the bee’s knees,” which were popular in the 1950s but have fallen out of favor. Based on current interpretation of these words and phrases, a person might see another individual who used them in discourse as old-fashioned or outdated.

Gender also has a huge impact on language and discourse. For instance, in some cultures, women are seen as second-class citizens or the weaker sex. In these cultures, it sometimes is considered very rude for a woman to enter into a discourse without invitation from a man. In other cultures, more effort is taken to create gender equality through language and thereby encourage different rules of discourse engagement, such as the integration of gender neutral pronouns.

The connections between language and discourse mean that one cannot study language in depth without also studying discourse. Studying these areas, in turn, requires an understanding of cultural contexts. This is why linguistics is such a challenging field: meaning is not constant. Linguists are constantly trying to figure out exactly how language adapts and adjusts the rules of discourse.


Interesting News

Encyclopedia of Cognitive Linguistics 2013 was released

In April, 2013 the All-Russian public organization “Russian Association of Linguists-cognitologists” (RALK) issued the second edition of “Encyclopedia of Cognitive Linguistics: Schools of Thought and Directions 2013” in which the school of cognitive neology headed by professor V.I.Zabotkina was presented.

The present edition contains information about leading schools of thought and researchers in the field of cognitive linguistics. Biographic data of scholars, results of their research are published in the encyclopedia. The encyclopedia informs the scholarly community about recently developed directions in the field of cognitive science in various regions of Russia and the neighboring countries.

Within the school of cognitive neology under professor Zabotkina’s supervision 19 candidate of phililogical sciences dissertations had been completed at Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University and successfully defended at Moscow State University and Moscow State Linguistic University. She also tutored 28 master’s degree dissertations on cognitive linguistics at Varminsko-Mazursky University (Olsztyn, Poland).

The main cognitive mechanisms underlying formation of new words, which were under study during the previous 40 years, have been investigated. This resulted in further development of them and new directions of their application:

– conceptual projection mechanism, defining conceptual development of new words in modern English (conceptual metaphor, metonymy, metaphtonymy);

– cognitive mechanisms of inheritance of information and inference as factors influencing development of new meanings of a polysemantic word;

– changes in basic concepts of modern English-speaking community;

– cognitive models of various types of discourses, in which new lexicon of English functions (political discourse, Internet discourse, etc.).

V.I.Zabotkina was awarded the Diploma for the development of ideas of cognitive linguistics in Russia and active participation in RALK activity.

For more information:

Interesting News

How Did English Get To Be The International Language Of Science?

More than 98 percent of all scientific articles published today are in English, but that hasn’t always been the case. “There used to be one language of science in Europe, and it was Latin,” says Michael Gordin, a historian of science at Princeton University who is writing a book about the selection of scientific languages. But researchers began to move away from Latin in the 17th century. Galileo, Newton, and others started writing papers in their native tongues in part to make their work more accessible and in part as a reaction to the Protestant Reformation and the declining influence of the Catholic Church.

Once Latin was unseated as its lingua franca, scientific discourse splintered into local languages. Researchers worried that the loss of a common tongue would slow scientific progress, so by the middle of the 19th century, they had settled on three primary languages. “If you were a professional scientist,” Gordin says, “you were expected to read French, English, and German.”

German was not to hold its prominent position for long. After World War I, researchers from the U.S., England, France, and Belgium formed major scientific organizations, such as the International Astronomical Union. Unwilling to embrace their former foes, they left German scientists out. Germany suffered another setback in 1933, when the government dismissed one fifth of the nation’s physics faculty and one eighth of its biology professors for cultural and political reasons (Jews and socialists were banned). Many left the country for the U.S. and England, where they started publishing in English.

Though the trend from that point on was toward English as the universal language of science, the shift took decades. One roadblock was the Cold War. During the 1950s and ’60s, most scientific literature was published in either English or Russian. “Then in the 1970s, everything turns,” Gordin says. As the Soviet Union fell into decline, the use of Russian declined too. By the mid-1990s, about 96 percent of the world’s scientific articles were written in English, a trend that has only grown since. These days, he says, “publishing in English is almost not a choice.”