A Level English Language: Summer Work for Incoming Year 13

Studying A Level Language in Year 13 next year? Here’s your summer transition work:

1. Make sure you have a copy of the AQA English Language Student Book.

We will be making regular use the textbook in class next year, and you will be expected to bring it with you to every lesson.

It’s available on Amazon here, or you can buy it from the library and save a few pounds.

You should make detailed notes on how the A Level is assessed next year.

Here are some questions to help guide you:

  • What are the Assessment Objectives for the course?
  • How many exams are there?
  • What’s covered in each exam?
  • What do you have to complete for the coursework element?

2. Create a language timeline.

Using the video below, we’d like you to create a language timeline.

You can find an exemplar timeline below that will give you an idea of what we’re after.

Timeline

3. Watch this Intelligence Squared debate and make notes on the arguments presented by both sides. At the end of the debate, decide whether you’d vote for or against the motion, and explain your decision in 200-300 words in a comment on this post.

 

4. Listen to Stephen Fry’s interview of Deborah Cameron below, and make detailed notes on what they both say.

 

When you’ve done that, write a 300-400 word response to the following question:

Do men and women communicate differently?

________________________________________________________

And that’s that!

You need to bring all of your work, completed, to your first lesson back after the break.

If you’ve any questions over the summer, email Mr Shovlin: s.shovlin@lc.leics.sch.uk.

Enjoy the holiday!

 

45 comments

  1. Abbi Lowden

    After watching the debate, while I do understand the views of the people for the motion, I mainly stand against it. I view language as multi-functional in the respect that while it’s primary purpose is communication, its role in personal expression cannot be ignored. The so-called language ‘rules’ act as constraints that limit and confine the user. Language should be used creatively and change should be encouraged, not shunned. While some older members of society may dislike the use of slang by the younger generation, change is inevitable so why not welcome it? However, I do realise the importance of Standard English when it comes to formal settings such as job interviews in order to represent yourself as educated. Without enforcing some of these rules I understand that pieces of writing etc. may not be very coherent and clear and may have elements of ambiguity. But, is this level of certainty always required? Shouldn’t language be open to interpretation and encourage debate? However, the debate also highlighted to me that many of these ‘rules’ are nothing more than complete nonsense. For example, Oliver Kamm referred to the ‘split infinitives’ which have no relevance to language today but are still debated and argued. Overall, I believe that while it is important to maintain these rules, if the context allows, creativity should be embraced. After all, I believe that we should be in of control our language and it should not control us.

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  2. Nathan Macgilbert

    After considering both the sides of people for the motion and against it, I am against the movement. I believe that whilst the English language is obviously primarily a form of communication, self-expression is also a vital aspect of it. As long as what is said can be understood by the people that it was said to, there is no issue with people expressing themselves by using the English language differently. Personally, I think that creativity is currently too restricted and discouraged in our education system and in our language so I am for embracing creativity in our language and hopefully creativity will be embraced in education too. There are obviously things that need to be considered when experimenting with language such as the age of the audience you are talking to and the situation that you are in. For example, in a formal setting such as a job interview or actually being in the workplace, slang terms and experimental language would not be appropriate as the interviewer may not understand them which can create ambiguity and they are informal which would not be the impression you want to set. As the older generation are likely not to understand the slang terms and experimental language, more proper language should be used so that the language still fulfils its primary purpose, to communicate. Overall, I think that in the right setting, creativity should be embraced as long as coherent utterances are still being formed.

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  3. Kirsty Savage

    Despite the views of the people for the motion being understandable, I am against the motion. Even though the primary purpose of language is of course communication, I think that other purposes shouldn’t be ignored. Language is multi-functional and this should be embraced. For example, self expression is another vital aspect of language, as it gives people the opportunity to express their individuality through communication. The rules of language often mean that self expression is restricted and although I agree that the use of Standard English is important for many life settings, such as in job interviews or in the workplace in general, creative and expressive language may be more important than formality in other situations, such as when communicating with family or friends. Furthermore, due to the nature of our changing society, language will forever be changing alongside it, and so if change is inevitable, it should be welcomed, rather than frowned upon. Everyone is entitled to communicate how they wish, and if for some that is through the use of self expressive language, than that should be encouraged, the same as the use of Standard English should also be encouraged, for those who prefer that form of communication. Therefore, my view is that all forms of communication should be embraced, as the rules of language are important in keeping a shared language that everyone can understand and communicate with and creative language is important in giving people individuality and so should be welcomed as part of an individuals identity, the same as their fashion choices or music taste would.

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  4. Emily Kenmore

    Whilst I understand the views of both John Humphreys and Simon Heffer who are for the motion, I stand mainly against it. I believe that the ‘rules’ of language act as constraints that limit and confine the reader. My view is that language should be used creatively and that we should encourage language change rather than portray it as a bad thing. However, I think it is important that children are taught the conventions of Standard English for use in formal situations such as job interviews as this makes the individual appear educated. Many older members of society are strongly against the slang used by younger generations; however change is inevitable so why should it be frowned upon? The English speaking world has hugely expanded over the past century with there now being more non-native speakers than there are native. British society has also changed radically over the past century; we are now a freer, more tolerant nation and society that is open to change and innovation. The most authoritative and independent language users are those who know the rules but know how to change and interpret them in their own way. After all, language doesn’t own us, we own it.

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  5. Lottie Hargrave

    I would vote in favour of the motion: ‘the English Language is going to the dogs’. While I appreciate the arguments presented by those disputing the motion that grammatical rules are arbitrary and unfairly restrict language users; I ultimately believe that in our capitalist society the grammatical rules and conventions of language usage are key. This is because individuals are so heavily judged on what they say and how they say it. As Simon Heffer discussed employers are less likely to employ individuals who do not use the ‘tool’ of grammatical rules and conventions effectively thus limiting social mobility. Moreover, I also agree that grammatical rules should not be mandatory in all contexts due to the different dialects and the evolution of language however I dispute the suggestion that they are outdated and worthless. I believe that they are important therefore I support the reintroduction of grammar into the education system as it is paramount that our young people are taught these vital rules so they can after learning the accepted conventions and rules manipulate and evolve the English Language informally through social media. Furthermore, social media has arguably increased the significance of grammatical rules and conventions owing to the lack of prosodic and paralinguistic features subsequently resulting in the increased need to use unambiguous language to avoid causing offence through misinterpretation. Also ambiguity is another argument to support the importance of grammatical rules as the primary function of any language is to communicate therefore without this standardised body of rules communication would be less efficient and meaningful. This was demonstrated through John Humphreys anecdote about a columnist who wrote an article in which he omitted all grammatical rules to suggest that grammatical conventions were unnecessary and despite the meaning of the text being the same it was harder to decode as it was not cohesive thus validating the importance of grammatical rules. In conclusion I do not fully believe that the English Language is going to the dogs as language evolution should be embraced not labelled as debasing the language however the evolution has brought a level of disregard and disrespect for conventions of use thus forcing me to vote in favour of the motion.

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  6. Rachel Fisher

    I like the correct use of grammar when I see and hear it. Hearing ‘I went college’ and ‘there ain’t nothing wrong’ makes me want to strangle someone. This is wrong. You know how to speak English correctly, why speak like that? Yes, it might be your dialect and you’ve grown up listening to people do the same thing repeatedly, but you wouldn’t write like that, so why would you say it out loud if you know it’s not technically correct? Our language is forever changing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as annoyed as everyone else is when it comes to the introduction of ‘twerk’ and ‘bae’ to our language, but I am so very happy that I’m no longer asking ‘where art thou’. Language needs to evolve and adapt to the way we use it in our modern world. But there are exceptions. Language can change to create new meanings and new words can become invented whenever needed- but when someone makes me flinch when I’m ease-dropping on their conversations due to their lack of basic understanding of how to speak ‘properly’. People say I’m posh. I like to think I’m just well-mannered. But honestly, I just avoid using slang when I can, and you will never catch me saying ‘there ain’t nothing you can do’- unless I am mocking someone that is. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that language has gone to the dogs, but I will say this- if we continue to use these silly phrases, you won’t catch me in a conversation with anyone ever again.

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  7. Emily Turton

    Despite understanding the views of the people voting for the motion, I vote against it. I believe that the English language is there to interpret and develop in a way in which you choose. As much as the ‘rules’ are important, creativity and imagination is equally as important in my eyes. These rules are limiting the power to change language and express individual creativity. In recent years, language within society has changed massively. New slang terms are constantly being introduced which allows there to be a continuous change in language. This allows language to stay up to date with the changing society. As much as older generations look down upon slang, it is a part of the majority of people’s dialect. It allows individuality and is a part of everyday life. However, despite the importance of creativity and the development of new language ideas, the rules are important in particular situations. Wherever a level of formality is expected, the rules should not be ignored. Standard English should be used in certain places/around certain people. Various slang terms may not be understood by the older generation for example, this creating a language barrier. Therefore, I believe that the use of Standard English should remain respected and should be used when needed. However the development of creativity within language should also be welcomed, because, after all, if society is continuously changing, so should our language.

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  8. Hannah Franks

    I accept the fact that the English Language is evolving and changing to meet the demands of our revolutionized society, however the result of language’s reckless use, has meant it’s primary service of communication has been hindered, forming a clear sign that the English Language is indeed ‘going to the dogs’. I agree profoundly with the point John Humphrys makes regarding the attitudes society creates on the grounds of language, when the BBC shied away from using the word ‘terrorist’; I believe this is the epitome of why language should be learnt and interpreted correctly, for issues with such importance as terrorism should never be reduced in the assumed judgement of a society who doesn’t construe the correct meaning. Ambiguity is used as an advantage with modern politics and this is only acceptable because its audience is unaware of the linguistic rules (for instance the verb), meaning not only is our language fading, but so is our construction of power in society.
    I agree, however that rules can be modified for improvements and to reach a point where language has been completely codified is near impossible. Although I feel that there needs to be a point where language is definitively right or wrong, for if it’s complete freedom is achieved then there will be no filter to communication, causing a definite impediment to important events like apply for a job. It was rightful of Mary Beard to highlight that there is no social event that doesn’t have rules, so why does this mean language should be an exception?
    The constant judgment our world constructs on society, means an essential factor to being interpreted as educated is to be educated linguistically; though to ever allow complete individuality and avoid any ambiguity, spelling and punctuation and grammar must always come first.

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  9. Georgia Leggatt

    The main part of me completely disagrees with this statement. The way that we use language now is so much different to the way that it was used many years ago. We use language to communicate with friends, potential jobs/ education and the general public. The rules that are placed in front of us do us no good as they just hold us back and prevent our creativity from flowing. No two people have the same style of writing, as we all learn in different ways. This makes writing interesting and enjoyable for other people to read. It would be very disappointing for every single book that has ever been written to be about the same thing and written in the same ways. We should relish the change that the English language has been given as everything changes so why not let what we say change as well? However, I do think that we need to be a little bit more careful with the English that we are speaking and writing down as we are starting to incorrectly spell things more often and we aren’t using Standard English.

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  10. Annie Hoar

    After watching the debate and considering the views of all participants, I stand against the motion. I believe that English should be creative and inventive, which is how new words are produced and without this creativity of both societies and individuals we wouldn’t be using these innovative words today. Oliver Kamm comments that ‘language is interesting’ and ‘about the way human societies communicate’ inferring that there is no set way to how one should speak or use language and that it varies dependent on dialects and register. John Humphyrs agrees that language is about communication however believes that you can’t communicate properly without ‘a basic understanding of certain [grammatical] rules’ and that you ‘learn language with an understanding of grammar’ Both statements are true to some extent, clearly grammar helps you form proper sentence structures and how a conversation must begin, end and flow in-between. But someone who has learnt Standard English may have trouble with grammar but can still communicate with those around them – proving that there is a basic understanding from all of how language works, whether it concerns proper grammar or not. Humphrys evidence for this was that ‘people don’t know the difference between of and have’ which is true but people still understand what someone is saying or trying to say and is therefore proving that his statement ‘you can’t communicate without a basic understanding of certain rules’ is false. Overall, I feel that while it is important that the English Language has some structure and rules in which it follows – creativity should be embraced when used in the correct context.

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  11. Maddi Daniels

    Grammar and the rules of English are of course something that, as a Language Student, are believed to be extremely vital, by myself and other academics. Therefore, I mostly agree with the concept that “The English Language is going to the dogs” The problem is, that the English Language now compromises many new and additional words which have originated from slang terms and non-Standard backgrounds: such as ‘bae,’ ‘fam’ and ‘innit’ – all of which I loathe. I understand that the English Language has changed in order to become what it is today, and that it will continue to evolve in the future, but I can’t help but think that John Humphreys and Simon Heffer are possibly correct in their suggested statement. Although rules of language shouldn’t have to be abided by strictly each and every time we speak, I think that they should be respected far more than they are now, and this is evident through the fact that suggestions are made about grammar being old-fashioned and too extreme. Language is something which each of us have in common but we can change it to suit our individual styles, images and personas. There has to be a certain degree of leeway with this, also. Just like if people were all clones of one another, the world would be a far different (and more boring) place; but bearing this in mind, the use of Standardised English (just like different kinds of people in our population) should be treated with the same degree of respect and people who adopt this should not be branded as ‘posh’ or ‘arrogant’. Social media and other technologies are advancing terminology which we come across each and every day, but shouldn’t have the power to completely undermine the human mind. Archaisms and historical rules definitely don’t deserve to be forgotten; it has made our language into what is is.

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  12. Kate Hickley

    Although I can understand both sides of the argument to some extent, I would vote against the motion that the English Language is ‘going to the dogs’. The English Language has changed immensely over the years but I don’t think this is completely a bad thing. It has developed and expanded through generations which is what keeps it modern to this day. I think that ‘rules’ are extremely limiting to people wanting to use language to express their creativity and individuality. People should be able to use language however they want to and not feel like they need to comply to how it should be used. Our language needs to be able to evolve and adapt over time, if it didn’t we’d still be using words such as ‘thou’ to this day. I think that language change is a positive thing and it should be encouraged. Everyone is different and therefore use language differently, there should be no right and wrong and people shouldn’t be frowned upon just because they use language in a different way to you. Language is so flexible and adaptive that it can be used for so many different functions. It’s main purpose is communication but it is also a method of personal expression. How can this be done if everyone speaks exactly the same?

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  13. Edie

    Primarily, the debate centres on the question ‘is the English Language going to the dogs?’ which to me is asking if the English language is dying out; in my opinion the language is still very much alive.
    There are concrete grammatical rules that have been in place and followed for many years – even as communication platforms have developed and dominated nations. However, some may argue that over the years these grammatical rules have slipped in their usage and admittedly some simple but common grammatical errors are annoying when in practise (eg. there, their and they’re being misused) which would indicate that the English Language is slowly headed towards ‘the dogs’.
    The English Language is heavily dependent on context, and specific taboo slurs in today’s society ought to be thoroughly considered – especially when directed at a widespread audience who could very easily take offence at words such as ‘terrorist’. The art of having to tiptoe around certain words in the language could indicate that the language is going to the dogs, yet the language is still standing strong and just being adapted to.
    The bottom line is that the English Language develops and changes with the generations- the new age generation are absorbed by the world of social media and the internet platform allows participants to apply the spoken discourse onto a written discourse. Although sites like Twitter are not ‘enriching’ the language, they are creating situations for new words to be created thus the language acts like soil – being refreshed every so often and including new words into the mix.

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  14. Megan

    I personally don’t think that the English Language is going to the dogs. I agree with both Oliver Kamm and Mary Beard and think that the English Language is only developing. It isn’t going to be spoken the same as it was years ago, new words have been invented and old words have changed their meaning such as ‘sick’ years ago would have only meant when you are ill, whereas now it means when you are ill but also another word for good. There are many different dialects in the English Language so not everyone will speak in the same manner or use the same words and their meanings. I think it’s good to have ambiguity in language sometimes, and as Oliver Kamm said, the majority of times we can work out what is being said through the context we are speaking in. However, some of the points raised by both John Humphry’s and Simon Heffer, I do agree with. I do think that we must first learn how to use to English Language correctly and properly in order to get through life, such as when we are at an interview for a job or when we are taking our GCSE or A-level in English. It is only when we have mastered the correct way to use and speak the language that we can use the and adapt the language to how we want to speak. Overall, yes I agree with some points raised by those for the motion but I strongly believe that the English Language is not going to the dogs but only adapting and developing for the society we live in now.

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  15. Emma McGuigan

    After understanding both sides of this debate and the reasons behind either sides views I would say that I am personally against the motion: ‘English Language is going to the dogs’. Despite me disagreeing with John Humphreys and the other linguists who favour this motion for the majority, I must admit that I do agree with them about wanting the public to use grammar correctly. However, all of those for the motion believe that you cannot communicate without a certain understanding of the rules of language and Oliver Kamm, a linguist against the motion, points out that they ‘are not young’. This shows that the people giving their views are older and therefore tend to prefer rules and insist on abiding by them. all of the people giving their views do agree that every human society has a language construction and this is extremely important for communication. I believe that language is a tool that each individual should be able to enjoy and use with their own freedom; children should be able to use their imagination and like Steven Pinker’s theory goes that language is an instinct and each child is a master of it themselves so therefore do not need to have rules in order to control it. The changing society we are in should be recognised by everyone and the children of today should be able to expand our language and use it differently to one another because each person should be allowed to explore language in their own way.

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  16. Kelsey Phillips

    After watching the debate I feel I am with the 20% of voters who voted they were not sure. The reason for this is because both sides have solid reasons as to why they think the English language is ‘going to the dogs’. For example John Humphreys, who is a BBC radio 4 presenter and is for the motion, states that we wouldn’t be able to communicate as clearly if we did not use the important features of the English language that we seem to think less about today, like grammar, structure, capitalism and verbs, as in politics they demand clear rules. He says we should protect our language as its beautiful and expressive. However, commentator at The Times who is against the motion, Oliver Hamm tells us that as infants we on instinct know how to communicate in proper English as we naturally know when to use a plural ‘s’ for example. He tells us that theorist Pinker quotes that ‘every three year old is a master of the English language’ Hamm also explains that conventions of usage in the English language have nothing to do with logic and that ambiguity is not essential. This is backed up by when Hamm advises that when teaching people the English language, they should master the language in different registers, that they can then use in different ways in different situations, because context is very important when it comes to knowing the meaning of certain conversions when used in a sentence. I very much agree with this. Although, I also agree with Simon Heffer who’s journalist of the Daily mail and for the motion. He states that yes our language has evolved and we see in dictionaries that there is more and more slag being added, but when it comes to applying for a job or universities, we should respect our language as bad use of English is unintelligent, which I completely agree with also, so I am unsure who to side with.

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  17. Ellie Rowlands

    After watching this debate and really considering and beginning to understand both sides of the argument I have concluded that I am very much against the idea that ‘language is going to the dogs’. I stand by my opinion very strongly as I believe that language is about being creative and inventive in regards to practising new words and phrases. I believe it is a wonderful thing to be able to use new words that share the same meaning as previous common words, such as instead of using the word ‘good’ to describe something, it is far more common to say ‘sick’ instead.
    However, I very much agree with John Humphrey’s comment in regards to wanting the public to use grammar correctly. By using grammar correctly and accurately, enables us to communicate clearer and we should strive to protect our language. But that doesn’t mean that children of this current generation should feel obliged to always follow certain grammar rules. Steven Pinker’ theory suggests that language is an instinct and each child is in full control of their own language and they should be able to experiment and invent language of their own. The English language is unique to all of us and in order to communicate requires a certain understanding of language. Society is in a constant state of change and so is our language, we shouldn’t be afraid of the change in language but should instead embrace it and respect it. That is why I believe that language is not going to the dogs, but is very much growing and that is a wonderful thing.

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  18. Imogen Williams

    After watching the debate, I do understand both sides of the argument, but I would mainly vote against the motion of the English language ‘going to the dogs’. Our English language has changed dramatically through eras and generations to create our modern language. The English language should be creative, productive and allowed to grow so that it can expand and change in years to come, which isn’t a negative thing. Language is constantly changing. If you compare the language of an older generation to a younger generation, you would notice differences. I think the ‘rules’ of language are dramatically limiting people to being able to express how they feel and what they think. This is because some people feel pressured to use language in a certain way which they don’t feel comfortable using. People should be able to use language in any way they feel and not like they have to meet and comply with certain standards and rules of the language. If language wasn’t allowed to change, it would of stayed the same and we wouldn’t of been allowed to explore the history of it and how it has evolved to the state it is now. We can look at our current lexis and see how it has been moulded over the years to its modern state. We would still be using all the old terms such as ‘thou art’ if language wasn’t allowed to progress. Also, language would progressively get more boring and repetitive if we all used the same language for years. Because society is constantly changing, language has to change with it. Our current societies language is based around aspects of modern life, such as technology. Lexis such as ‘web’, ‘iPhone’ and ‘laptop’ are all words which are new because of our current society. However, even though I support that language should change, I do see the importance of the use of standard English in a formal situation. For example, job interviews. Sometimes the use of standard English is needed to meet the requirements. Overall, the purpose of language is to communicate and people do that in different ways, but maybe sometimes it needs to be controlled.

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  19. Leah Fairgrieve

    After watching the debate, I mainly stand against the motion that the English language is ‘going to the dogs’. Our language is developing and I believe that we should embrace change and encourage creativity. There is also no right or wrong way for an individual to use language and it is adaptable. This is clearly shown by the amount of new words created by younger generations. However I have considered the views of the opposing side and I do believe Standard English is important in some contexts such as a job interview. Situations like these are where certain rules and language constructions are crucial. These contexts are why we must learn to use language correctly and properly. Therefore I believe that grammatical ‘rules’ must be respected. By using language correctly we can portray that we are educated and we can communicate effectively. However, in other situations we should be able to explore language and view it as something to be developed on. It can be felt that the rules of the English language constrain and limit people. But overall it is significant that we see our society is changing and so is our language as new generations create new grammar.

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  20. Elliot Woodward

    How could I possibly think the English Language is ‘going to the dogs’ when it has developed and changed over centuries into something I would call having a multi-functional purpose, which our lives are primarily apart of. Without language, communication would be limited, as with ‘rules’ the same is apparent. The strict ruled based system gives us a standard way of formally communicating, which benefits many parts of our lives, e.g. interviews for jobs, writing a letter and passing your school exams. However I do not believe the motion is the key to a successful form of communication, merely an excuse for seeing an improvement in school pass rates. Creativity is such a significant part of our everyday life and opens up our imaginations to much more than we’ve ever been taught or shown. The world we live in offers a diverse range of accents and dialect, this is not wrong, its inspiring and fascinating to see. For example one culture or region may strongly pronounce a letter at the end of a word, like American’s who will include the ‘r’ sound in ‘labour’ where as Brits won’t. The debate continued to mention how the young generation are using ‘slang’ especially through social media networking sites such as Twitter, but is this really a problem or just another benefit of creativity. Im not saying we shouldn’t have to speak properly, but when it comes to socialising with your friends or speaking with someone who doesn’t judge the extent to how well you have been educated, shortened language should be accepted and encouraged as it breathes fresh air on the existing English Language.

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  21. Katie Tebbutt

    After watching the debate, I am against the motion that ‘the English language is going to the dogs’. Whilst I understand that language is increasingly changing, I don’t believe this to be a bad thing. I think that language allows us to be inventive and creative through the way we communicate. As our technology and specifically social media dominates our lives, these knew slang-terms come into rotation and become the ‘norm’. Despite these words being used more frequently, I don’t believe enough credit is given to the younger generations to understand context and when it is appropriate to use these said terms. Despite this, I have considered the views of the opposing side and see the importance of using grammar correctly especially in some formal situations. I think that the changes in language should be encouraged as everyone should be able to use language differently and unique to them. As our society is rapidly changing around us, so is our language and I therefore don’t believe we should be afraid of this change.

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  22. Tegan White

    From listening to the debate I am made aware that although the up keeping of our English language is important it should not be formed into such a controversial topic, thus meaning I am against the motion that ‘The English Language is going to the dogs.’
    The Standard English language has its value in society when it comes to professional circumstances in which any other type of language, for example slang, would be inappropriate. Here, Standard English makes the speaker appear more formal, regarding register, and educated; giving a more likely chance of success. This is not the case throughout the entirety of language however.
    Our language is subjective to the individual and therefore should not be restrained to any rules. The UK contains many subcultures which all use language relative to their meanings, this bringing new words into our language, creating a wider scope that will travel through not only people of this generation, but generations to come also. Language is a person’s outlet of expression, of which we have few, and to completely say that this should be controlled further by rulings of words is wrong.
    Although grammatical rules are crucial to initiating a sentence that makes sense, communication on a whole has evolved so drastically throughout the last 50 years that of course the language use that goes alongside will also evolve. This is no bad thing for the English Language; it is just new. The majority of society despises anything new, relating to further than just language, but this I feel needs to change. Anything new, including our language, should be embraced fully and respected as it captures the individual identity and is able to bring common ground among communities.

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  23. Marakesh Jarvis

    Before I watched this debate, I was very open minded about whether I would be for or against the motion. I understand that our English language has changed dramatically over the last 20 years or so and therefore I assumed these people of high authority would be very aggressive towards our generation. To my surprise, they were not. Instead they highlighted the ‘issues’ within the education system, which of cause has overall control from the people they were most fond of offending… the politicians. I agreed at first with what John Humphrys said about the way politicians are ambiguous with their language, because in all truth – they are. I feel like they feel they have the power to baffle us and most of the time, we luckily recognise it. It was the behavior they had towards the rules in grammar I not disagreed with, but felt patronised by. These type of people make me feel uncomfortable. Personally I do not feel like I could say one sentence to them without getting ‘shut down’. Just like the opposing side of the panel, I believe that we shouldn’t always worry too much about getting grammar correct. Yes, it is important to respect the tradition of the English language, but the changes within society also need to be respected. Both sides of the panel brought up a range of issues with the way some people choose to speak and this was something that I also agreed with. Changing the BBC back to ‘RP’ is far too over the top, but teaching students from a young age the different dialects and registers is a skill they can take through life. English language isn’t in danger of ‘going to the dogs’, but it is in danger of becoming less formative. The amount of people in the end who voted ‘for’, surprised me. I would like to think that the audience weren’t as discriminating as that, but it seems our society isn’t as left wing as I had hoped. This was proven from the EU referendum not too long ago anyway. There is a lot of things that can be discussed from the debate, as it is so long and so many things were spoken about, however I only have 200-300 words to express my own opinion. So here it is; the decision for the motion or against the motion, if it were left to me would be against. It is complicated though. I believe that everyone living in England or anyone living in an English speaking country should have the ability to change and adapt their language to fit into other environments. Understanding linguistic conventions is extremely important and is becoming more and more important everyday as new communities and new bulks of vocabulary are being formed. We are becoming more diverse and multicultural as a society. We promote the anti discrimination laws and equality and with the rise of a new generation forming it is important know exactly how to work with the beautiful and dynamic structures of our very own English language.

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  24. Laura Pilkington

    Whilst I understand the views in favour of the motion, I ultimately take the view that the English language is not ‘going to the dogs’. I appreciate the arguments in favour because I realise the importance of Standard English in society and its value in formal interactions in order to be interpreted correctly. For example, in formal letters, university applications and job interviews, a high level of professionalism is valued and illustrates the ability of the writer/speaker. I also agree that grammatical ‘rules’ and unambiguity are important because disregarding the structure of a language endorses its misuse and confusion. However, I stand against the motion because I view language as having multiple purposes and functions. The emphasis on grammatical ‘rules’ made me realise that whilst it is important to maintain them, they can at times, restrict us. Primarily, language is to communicate, but as Oliver Kamm stated, ‘we use different forms of English in different contexts.’ Language choice is determined and dependent upon context as well as the participants involved and regional dialects. Therefore, the evolvement of language should be encouraged in order to accommodate these situations and to allow individuality in self-expression to exist.
    Having said this, the ‘rules’ should be learnt and respected where formality is expected. For example, use of slang presents a language barrier with older generations. Similarly, Mary Beard drew attention to the fact that every social event has ‘rules’, so why should language be an exception? The totalisation of freedom in language would provide unambiguity. Therefore, the most successful users of linguistics are those who know how and when to use the conventions of Standard English correctly, but also how and when to alter it appropriately. In a society which encourages diversity and creativity between people, why not encourage this within language?

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  25. Charles Timms

    After listening to the debate I have come to the conclusion that the statement ‘the English language is going to the dogs’ is wrong. From looking simply at the history of the English language anyone can see it has massively changed over time, although some parties believe the current changes are bad for the language I am sure throughout history there have been similar parties trying to stop the language changing. The truth is the English language is essentially a living and breathing entity with change naturally occurring all of the time, we cannot stop this and anyone who thinks they can is deluded. Although a structured language which has very specific rules and guidelines would be easier to learn it is not possible because of the large amount of areas the English language is used in. Different locations will use slightly different words and use a slightly different accent. I think the wide array or words added every year using creativity and not just the rules makes the English language a rich language. The main aim of using language is to communicate, as long as people can understand each other with the basic rules and guidelines a bit of creativity is good to really make a language flourish.

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  26. Abigail Holyland

    Although I understand both sides of the debate, I disagree that ‘the english language is going to the dogs’. I think the statement is actually very offensive as it suggests that we as society are going downhill from were we used to be, as our language was originally created by society and now it is involving and adapting to suit the needs of a modern world. Of course there has to be a limit as the entirety of language is to be able to communicate effectively with each other and this is impossible when different areas speak too differently, however I don’t think we have reached this extreme, nor do I believe we ever will. When Shakespeare created new phrases and words, these were known as ‘slang’, yet now we have adapted and these are frequently used by individuals who would be termed ‘upper class’, so why is it an issue thar language continues to evolve, and new ‘slang’ continues to develop which one day will likely be a well accepted and proper phrase. I believe new words and phrases are a positive, and should be embraced, especially when they aid our individuality and help people conform to society. There are occasions where standard English is necessary and should be used, however I believe the majority of english speakers still have the ability to do this, and are able to adapt their language to the occasion. However overall, I believe those who agree with the motion are taking a very old fashioned view point, and wanting to say stuck in the past, rather than embracing and adapting to a changing world.

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  27. Natalie Holland

    After watching the debate, I would stand against the motion that ‘the English Language is going to the dogs’. Although I understand the view of the people who support the motion, I believe that the ‘rules’ of language can often restrict the way in which people use language and that self-expression should be encouraged as it allows people to express their individuality. I agree that the primary purpose of language is communication, nevertheless language has other purposes that should not be ignored. Oliver Kamm stated that grammar rules were ‘beaten’ into children to ‘no good effect’, by doing this, children who disagree with the ‘rules’ may rebel and not use Standard English. The use of Standard English is indeed essential for many aspects of life, such as a job interview, and I believe that it is important to teach children the conventions of Standard English at school. However, when with family and friends, a less formal form of language may be more suited. Even though people may not use Standard English all the time, it does not mean that they don’t know when it should be used. In addition to this, due to our changing society, language will also be changing with it. Children constantly introduce new slang words which the older generation seem to frown upon, however many people’s dialects are made up of these words and it represents how language is changing. If language did not change, we would still be using words such as ‘thou’ which I believe many people in today’s society would disagree with using, so therefore change should be encouraged and accepted. Overall, I do not think that our language is ‘going to the dogs’, but that it is forever changing with our society and that ‘rules’ should not always be enforced as it constraints people’s language.

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  28. Bethan Fletcher

    To a certain extent I understand both sides of the argument, however I am against the motion. Language is constantly changing and developing, with words fading both in and out of language. We create new words and phrases to fit in with our ever changing society, with these words then forming many people’s dialects. Changes to our English language have been encourage and accepted throughout the past, so should continue to be encouraged and embraced now and in the future. If we had not adopted new words in the past words such as ‘thou’ would still be used in our everyday lives, but such words are no longer heard of in everyday speech. Although I stand against the motion, I still recognise that Standard English is essential in certain aspects of our lives, for example formal occasions such as job interviews. I also stand by the fact that the primary purpose of language is in order to communicate, however there is also other purposes of language that shouldn’t be ignored. Language allows us to be creative, inventive and express ourselves through its use and the ‘rules’ of grammar can often restrict these purposes. Nevertheless, I also understand that these ‘rules’ can be crucial and should be respected and applied when necessary. Due to this, I believe it is essential that both Standard English and the rules of grammar are learnt and fully understood in order to use them properly when required. Overall, whilst I recognise that the rules of grammar and Standard English are essential and need to be applied when necessary, I believe that our language is not ‘going to the dogs’ and is instead simply changing with our society as it always has done and these changes should be embraced, in order to show languages multiple purposes.

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  29. Jack Goodman

    After hearing both sides of the argument, I can say that I am against the movement. The English language constantly changing, being used primarily for communication. Being creative with your own language is just as important as being grammatically correct. The language has transformed over the years with slang becoming a huge part of the English language. Society has changed the way we talk, making slang part of the youth’s dialect. Language changes when we need to be formal, such as when applying for jobs. Humphyrs supports that language is used primarily for communication, but he also believes that people need ‘a basic understanding of certain rules’. Which is true to some extent as people will need knowledge of grammatical rules when talking in a formal manner. People have different speech, otherwise we would all speak the same. The English language is constantly changing through the years and the media continues to change people’s language. For example, social media allows people to slip into more informal language as there are no expectations of people. Proving that the language is constantly changing and there is nothing we can do.

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  30. CAL ALLEN

    Despite understanding the views of the people voting for the motion, I vote against it. I believe that the English language is there to interpret and develop in a way in which you choose. As much as the ‘rules’ are important, creativity and imagination is equally as important in my eyes. These rules are limiting the power to change language and express individual creativity. In recent years, language within society has changed massively. New slang terms are constantly being introduced which allows there to be a continuous change in language. This allows language to stay up to date with the changing society. As much as older generations look down upon slang, it is a part of the majority of people’s dialect. It allows individuality and is a part of everyday life. However, despite the importance of creativity and the development of new language ideas, the rules are important in particular situations. Wherever a level of formality is expected, the rules should not be ignored. Standard English should be used in certain places/around certain people. Various slang terms may not be understood by the older generation for example, this creating a language barrier. Therefore, I believe that the use of Standard English should remain respected and should be used when needed. However the development of creativity within language should also be welcomed, because, after all, if society is continuously changing, so should our language

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  31. Aidan Gardner

    I would say I am against the movement. The English language constantly changing, being used primarily for communication. Being creative with your own language is just as important as being grammatically correct. The language has transformed over the years with slang becoming a huge part of the English language. Society has changed the way we talk, making slang part of the younger generation’s everyday dialect. Language changes based on situation for example in a job interview .The English language is constantly changing through the years and the media continues to change people’s language. For example, on social media people are much more informal even people who usually use standard English. Humphyrs supports that language is used primarily for communication, but he also believes that people need ‘a basic understanding of certain rules’. Which is true to a point as people will need knowledge of grammatical rules when talking in a formal manner.

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  32. Tom Cooley

    In the Investigation Squared debate, the motion, of which enforces the need of grammar and a set structure of language that should be taught across the education system, in order to stop the ‘English language going to the dogs’. The opposing side of the debate argues that a structure as such is unneeded and subsequently English speakers should exercise the English language in their own personal way. Having watched the debate I can conclude that personally I am against the motion, as too are the duo representing the argument; Oliver Camm and Mary Beard. I feel that ‘the English language is not going to the dogs’, because as Mary Beard states- the Germans adopted features of Latin language when creating their own language, but whilst doing so they found that there were grey areas, of which they improvised, subsequently forming the language that they speak today. Therefore without a degree of freedom, language would not progress and there would only be one mother language. Furthermore as regards to the English language, freedom when used in the correct situation allows words to be created , or semantic fields to be developed to replace previously used words that are no longer one hundred percentage appropriate due to the development of the world and context. Moreover as Camm states in the debate without this freedom there would be ‘one style manual’, this would discontinue creative uses for language and top the English language from evolving. In reference to this, the work of William Shakespeare and the various terms and words he developed like; addiction, champion and bump would not be part of the English language today had a set structure been put in place as Simon Heffer and John Humphreys desire, emphasising the need for freedom in English language.

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  33. Ben Barratt

    From analysing the video it has become apparent to me that English language has not ‘gone to the dogs’. It is clear that there has been a considerable change to the English language and correct forms of grammatical structures are not always being used ‘effectively’. However, I feel that this change is due to the language being ‘organic’ and alive with society; meeting society’s needs and changing when society does.
    Furthermore, certain grammatical structures and registers are used depending on the context and this can allow people to communicate more easily depending on the social context they are in. Also speaking and communicating in a certain manner provides people with an identity. For example, a teenager may use ‘slang’ when with his peers as it is the form of communication appropriate for that particular context and their ‘stylistic preference’, this does not mean that it is an example of language debasement.
    Additionally, there are no ‘codified’ rules for grammar, just merely conventions that have evolved naturally over time. These conventions will only exist when they are appropriate with the needs of that particular society and there are many that are no longer used because they are no longer required. This is also correspondent with how the meaning of words can change over time, for example the meaning of the adjective ‘gay’ has semantically shifted to take a more negative connotation, this is an example of pejoration. If the rules and meanings of English language were set in stone then it would be seen as outdated when contrasted with society.

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  34. Rowan Young

    After watching the debate, I found that I agreed with a lot of the points that where on both sides of the debate. I found that I agree more with the against the motion side; this is because I think that English should be diverse and free; this is so as we evolve and get more complex, our language can as well. We still need to follow the rules to a certain extent, but we can’t stop the production of new words and new meanings. The more words and knowledge of other meanings of words we know make the English language more complex. I view this as being a reason for people to take pride in speaking English as it requires a higher level of intelligence to understand and use it properly. For this reason, I believe that the English language is not ‘going to the dogs’ and is thriving. We do need rules and we do need some limits, but not as many that where suggested in the debate. A few of the most important reason we need rules, is for education, teaching and for job interviews so that people can show they have knowledge of these rules and can follow these rules and so we can assess their knowledge of English language needed in a working environment.

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  35. Casey Clark

    After watching the debate and taking all views into account, I would vote against the motion. While understanding clear points made by John Humphreys and Simon Heffer, I found myself agreeing more with points made against the motion. Personally, I think that Oliver Kamm made valid points based on the English language being ‘interesting’. I believe that language should be individual and original to each person, with a sense of freedom of speech within language. It is clear from points made and extended by Simon Heffer the language has and will continue to evolve throughout history. Language evolving to our society is positive, as it shows how we can slightly bend the rules of language to fit our own interpretation of language. It also allows us to feel more at home and connected on a large scale to our country. As much as rules are widely important, I think it is equally important be creative and individual within our language. Different generations may have different views, as slang is now a large part of the current English language, however the use of slang portrays how we can be more relaxed and informal in our homes. I support and realise the importance of the ‘rules’ in English language, but believe that fitting into our society, and even expanding English language could be largely beneficial to our culture. Our language is beautiful and evolves more each day, bringing in more ideas about communications and development.

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  36. Shane Thiara

    After watching this debate and careful consideration, I believe that the English language is not ‘going to the dogs’. Each debater made relevant points and argued their points very well but it is clear that our language is not dying but instead is evolving in a way that is required in order for it to keep up with the demands of society. This creativity we use should be encouraged as it allows successful experimentation and allows communication between societies as Kamm would say. These ‘rules’ of grammar will constantly evolve and change but this is what forms the basis for communication and allow individuals to adapt their own language. However, I do realise the importance of knowing the conventions of standard English and being able to use these correctly. For example, in a professional setting such as a job interview standard English is required to make a good impression and to portray yourself in the best way possible. Standard English should still be a form of English which remains respected and used in certain contexts. For example, with an older generation who may not understand modern slang or dialects. Therefore, I believe that all forms of language should be accepted as a means of communication as it creates individuality for people and allows them to express themselves in a way they want to rather than how they grew up with. This change is inevitable in society and we as a society should encourage and embrace these changes.

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  37. Emily Skelton

    From looking at the video, it is clear that English language has not ‘gone to the dogs’. It is clear that there has been a large amount of change to the English language and correct forms of grammar are not always being used effectively. However, I feel that this change is due to the every growing changes in society and the language changes that follow. Furthermore, certain structures and registers are used depending on the context and this can allow people to communicate easier depending on the social context they are in. Also speaking and communicating in a certain manner provides people with an identity. For example, a teenager may use slang when with their friends as it is the most appropriate form due to the social context and their preferences. There are also no set rules for grammar, just guidelines that have evolved naturally. These guidelines will only exist when they are appropriate with the needs of the society they are in and there are many that are no longer used because they are no longer required so they will die off. This also links to how the meaning of words can change over time, for example the word ‘nice’ has shifted its meaning as it used to mean ‘ignorant’ however now it means ‘pleasant’.

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  38. Karin Shergill

    Prior to watching the debate, I was against this motion as I believed that language should be able to evolve and adapt to better suit the needs of the modern world. Furthermore, after watching the debate my view has not changed. While it was stated that people are no longer being taught the rules of grammar as well as other conventions of language, it was also highlighted that language is an instinct we have; this supports theorists like Chomsky. Additionally, it was stated, in the debate, that almost every child is able to pick up the rules of grammar through the spoken mode. As a result, it is acceptable to not force children to abide by strict ‘rules’ as they are still able to communicate effectively with people. Instead, their creativity and imagination can be used to express themselves through language with slang and other phrases.

    Moreover, while it was argued that if there were grammatical errors in CVs it would not be acceptable and the applicant would be denied, it could also be argued that most people understand the different purposes of language and are able to adapt their language if they need to. This is because language is a tool which can be manipulated to suit our needs. As stated in the debate, there is not only one form of language so we can use different variations in different situations. As Mary Beard stated, ‘language doesn’t own us, we own it’.

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  39. Matt Powell

    Taking into account the opinions of both arguments, I would vote in favour of the motion ‘the English Language is going to the dogs’, though I don’t think that is actually ‘going to the dogs’. I appreciate that some grammatical rules are like restrictions for language users, but I feel that speaking ‘properly’ and using the grammatical rules/conventions of our language is essential to succeed in today’s society. Unfortunately, as touched upon by Simon Heffer, in instances such as job interviews, employers will favour those who speak/write using standard and grammatically correct English over those who don’t, thus proving that the use of grammatical rules and conventions of language, and Standard English to a degree, are almost paramount in order to survive in modern society and reach a suitable level of ‘social mobility’. At the same time, these rules/conventions should not be mandatory in all contexts; in some it is simply unrequired as dialects and the general evolution of language are often acceptable, and in my opinion, these shouldn’t be shunned. Again on the flip side, I disagree with the suggestion that they are outdated and worthless and therefore I support the reintroduction of grammar into the education system as it is useful if everyone learns most of the grammatical rules/conventions so that they can survive in society and also manipulate and evolve the English Language informally through platforms like social media, which even has arguably increased the significance of grammatical rules and conventions due to the lack of prosodic/paralinguistic features. I found John Humphreys’ anecdote on a columnist who omitted all grammatical rules in an article, thereby giving the implication that grammatical conventions were unnecessary, interesting. However, although the texts meaning remained unchanged it became harder to fully understand due to its incoherence – consequently reinforcing the importance of such rules.Overall, I think that the English Language isn’t going to the dogs, as language evolution is natural and acceptable; I don’t agree with the label that it is debasing the language.

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  40. Eleanor Crofts

    Although I understand the views from both sides of the debate, I have come to the conclusion to vote against the motion. In my opinion, I believe that in the English language it is important to interpret and develop language in different ways and as people choose. Yes, I think that the ‘rules’ are important, but creativity and imagination are equally important. These ‘rules’ are trying to limit the power to change language and express an individual’s creativity. Throughout time, language within society has changed extensively as new slang terms are constantly being introduced which gives way to a continuous change in the English language. Slang is acceptable in certain contexts such as speaking with friends, therefore Standard English isn’t needed in all contexts and is only needed occasionally. I believe that allowing individuality within language is important otherwise the English language would be monotonous. However, despite the importance of creativity and the development of new language ideas, the rules are still important and should still be applied in particular situations. For example, where a level of formality is expected, the rules should be applicable and used by any individual. Standard English should be used in certain places/around certain people. Therefore, I believe that the use of Standard English should remain respected and should be used when and where it’s expected and needed. However, the development of creativity and the continuous change within language should also be welcomed and treated equally as important as the rules for English language. After all, if society is continuously changing, why shouldn’t our language?

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  41. Chloe-May Masters

    I can clearly acknowledge both sides of the debate, but I have come to the conclusion to vote against the proposed motion. The English language has changed over a period of time and people learn in different ways. People should be given the opportunity to chose how they interpret and develop language. The rules stipulated are important as they set guidelines as to what is expected and certain ways people are expected to develop and use language. The use of slang can be used in context in many appropriate situations and can be used to express an individuals own unique personality and portray who they are. With strict rules to language, it can ruin creativity form an early age so although the rules are an important aspect of learning, there is a limit to the level of creativity children and individuals have if the rules are too strictly applied. Standard English is deteriorating and is becoming less frequently used. It is being modified by the modern day society and will continue to do so as the years go by. The use of Standard English is still being used in respected areas and in an appropriate settings then people should be allowed to express themselves in a way they think is acceptable, when in appropriate surroundings.

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  42. Nieeve Quinn

    After watching the debate and listening to each point clearly I have come to the conclusion that English language isn’t ‘going to the dogs’. In my opinion, I believe that language changes in order to represent people’s identity and show individuality within modern society. Despite the strict rules that language has in reference to grammatical features I think people’s creativity should be encouraged as it allows people to express themselves in their own way. I think these rules should not be interpreted strictly due to the demands of society constantly changing and evolving meaning the importance of particular grammar will be irrelevant in the possible future. However, I do see a large amount of change within the English language and incorrect forms of grammar are being used which I can understand would be worrying to certain groups of people. But depending on who people speak to will impact their language. For example, people would use slang while talking with their friends but in an interview they would use standard English in order to fit with the formality and to be deemed professional. Overall, I think that Standard English is a great way for people to express themselves and so creates diversity within their grammatical forms giving the impression that the English language is slowing dying out.

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  43. Lauren Hart

    Whilst both sides of the debate have compelling arguments regarding the use of the English language, if I was to vote, I would have to choose the ‘against’ side. I understand that the English language has many set rules and expectations and I do believe that the majority of these should be carried through into the future of our language. However, as time goes on, everything else about England is changing and developing and so our language must have the ability to be flexible in its development. As Simon Heffer mentioned, somebody living 30 years ago wouldn’t have understood what the term ‘fax machine’ meant and so we have to expect that similar situations will arise as technology evolves. Young people must have the option to adapt their own personal use of language in order to better understand one another. Whether this means using a new slang term at every chance they get, or simply incorporating a newer term into their conversations every now and again. It simply shows us that the world around these young people is changing and developing in new ways that our history has never witnessed. Oliver Kamm commented on how much more free and tolerant British culture has become and that this change is, in fact, good.

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  44. Lucy Tunnicliff

    Although I respect the views of the people who are voting for the motion, I am voting against it and feel that our language is not ‘going to the dogs. ‘ I feel that the English language exists to be interpreted and developed in a way that each individual chooses. As much as a rule based approach is important, in my opinion creativity and imagination is equally as important. I believe that these rules are limiting the ability to adapt language and show the creativity within individuals. Over a period, language within society has changed considerably and new slang terms are constantly being introduced through younger generations. This allows there to be a continuous change in language and the way in which it is used. Although it is evident that the older generation frown upon the use of taboo language, it is a part of most people’s dialect in society today. Furthermore, it can sometimes allow individuals to be perceived as unique and withhold a sense of individuality as well as enable them to express emotion.
    The creativity and development of new language formations are considered important; however, the rules behind language also have particular significance in certain situations. Wherever a level of informality is granted, the rules should not be ignored. I strongly believe that Standard English should be used in certain places such as an interview setting or around people who are thought to have more authority. As a result, language should be adapted accordingly. To conclude, I feel that the use of Standard English should remain respected and to be used where required. However, saying this, I also feel that the development of creativity and informality within language should also be accepted. Surely if our society is continuously changing, then our language should do the same to equalise?

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  45. Molly Bailey

    After watching the debate I would have to stand against it. Whilst both sides made a strong argument on the matter, why should the English language be confined to certain rules; shouldn’t we be able to use language to express ourselves? Society has changed a lot over the last hundred years and many people have become more tolerant as was mentioned in the debate. Surely we should cater for this change and allow our language to evolve in the same way. Despite this, I still understand the importance of rules and grammar because without it how would anyone be able to manipulate language in order to use it to express themselves. Also, there are certain situations such as a job interview or in a formal environment where Standard English should be respected to ensure clear communication, especially when these situations are particularly important. Nevertheless, I am against the motion for the most parts due to the creativity and expressiveness that can be achieved when given the chance, which is something that I believe is key in our society and so should be allowed to change and evolve as it has done throughout history; after all, we wouldn’t think to use the same language as our ancestors would have a few hundred years ago so why should we halt that evolution now?

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