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Listed under:  Language  >  Language conventions  >  Language evolution
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Unit for Year 5 to 6 Butterflies: Engaging with nature

This unit of work engages students in preparing butterfly gardens in their schoolgrounds. It explores scientific entomology, features of insects (including butterflies), the contributions that butterflies make to a healthy environments, and the characteristics of butterfly gardens. The unit includes worksheets, assessment ...

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Can We Help?: Challenging grammar rules, darlings and crowbars

Find out that what appears to be a straightforward grammar rule behind the use of the words 'fewer' and 'less' may not be as straightforward as it seems! Professor Kate Burridge explains that this grammar rule has been under challenge for centuries. She also explains the origins of the word 'darling' and why the 'crow' ...

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Can We Help?: Borrowed words: the processes of language change

Do you know any words from another language? Chances are, you know more than you think you do! English is a polyglot language; one that borrows words from other languages. In this Professor Kate Burridge discusses the origins of the phrases 'short-shrift' and 'lily-livered'.

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Can We Help?: Plum puddings, yelks to yolks and elfs to elves

Why are Christmas puddings called 'plum puddings' when they have no plums in them? How did the egg yolk get its name and why are the plurals for 'hoof' and 'roof' are spelt differently? Find out how Professor Kate Burridge answers these questions that the audience of 'Wise Words' send in for her.

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Can We Help?: From possessive apostrophes to discombobulation!

People often worry about the use of apostrophes. See how Professor Kate Burridge answers a question about how to use the apostrophes after certain names, telling us how the rule has changed over time. She also explains the origins of the word 'discombobulate' and why the plural of house is not 'hice'.

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Introduction to Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew

This resource for students is the second in a series entitled 'Introduction to Shakespeare', based on a study of 'The Taming of the Shrew'. This resource looks at selected scenes, with activities based on each. Students are asked to: translate speeches into modern English; analyse the use of puns to create humour; discuss ...

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Radio National: Using the word 'you' in English

Have you ever wondered why we use the word 'you' to refer to both one 'you' or many of 'you'? Or have you ever heard anyone refer to many of 'you' using the once grammatically incorrect word 'youse'? This program considers the words we use when we are talking to each other face to face. It also looks at the use of the word ...

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Can We Help?: Naming words: significant social effects

The names we give people and places hold great significance for us. But have you ever thought about how this simple act can impact on others? Naming is a powerful tool. Watch this clip as Professor Kate Burridge explains the ways that language can have significant social effects.

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Can We Help?: Why do we say the words the way we do?

What kinds of things might influence the way we pronounce words in English? Professor Kate Burridge explains why knowing when 'kilometre' came into English helps us to understand why it is pronounced differently from similar words such as 'kilogram' and 'centimetre'. She also explains what it means to 'barrack' for a team.

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Can We Help?: Efficient speech: the process of language change

Wassup, bro?Well 'pparently I ain't speakin' right.Will thou ha' the truth on't?We often think that only young people speak in abbreviated forms, but the truth is people have been doing this since Anglo-Saxon times! In this clip discover with Professor Kate Burridge some words that belong to the 'zero plurals' group, why ...

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Big Ideas: Evolving English and the role of social media

How many times have you heard teenagers berated for using the term 'like'? Yet this term has existed at least since 1586 when the term, 'Yon man is like out of his mind' was written into history. The truth is, our language is constantly evolving, with new words added, others dying off and some resurfacing again. In this ...

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Big Ideas: Evolving English and the impact of television

Imagine if the English language never evolved. What would we be speaking? Possibly Old English, the language of the Anglo-Saxon tribes, a language written down using runes known as the 'futhorc'. English continues to evolve, but it takes the media to bring new words into common usage. So which form of media is responsible ...

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Can We Help?: 'Bought' or 'brought' and radio code

Changes in the use, pronunciation, and meaning of common everyday English words happen all the time. Professor Kate Burridge explains that we can see this in the way people increasingly switch the past tense of the verbs 'buy' and 'bring'. She also answers a viewer's question about why 'Roger' is used on two-way and CB radios.

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Can We Help?: Conquest: the process of language change

When the Normans conquered England in 1066, they brought a lot more than fancy clothes and castles; they also brought the French language. Discover the impact that this momentous event continues to have today.

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Can We Help?: Subjunctivitis! Fact or 'Furphy'?

Why is 'were' used in 'If I were king' and what is the subjunctive? What do water sources and gossip have in common? If you don't know then you need to watch and listen as Professor Kate Burridge and Peter Rowsthorn explore these questions.

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Can We Help?: Golly gosh, what do those sayings mean?

Have you ever wondered where sayings like 'golly gosh', 'by gum' or 'drat' come from? In this video, Professor Kate Burridge explains the origins and meaning of these and other sayings. She also explains the history of the pronoun 'you'.

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Can We Help?: Words and sayings over time

Have you ever wondered where sayings like 'hanging by the skin of your teeth' come from? Professor Kate Burridge explains the origin and meaning of this saying. She also explains the opposite word (antonym) to 'misogynist' (someone who hates or has a long and deep prejudice against women) and the origins of the word 'goodbye'.

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Can We Help?: Dude: American words and pronunciations

Where does the word 'dude' come from? Why do speakers of English often pronounce words differently depending on their country of origin - not only because of their accent? Find out with Professor Kate Burridge when she takes on these questions from viewers.

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Can We Help?: Shakespeare words: the process of language change

Imagine being responsible for inventing over 1700 words! That is the legacy of William Shakespeare, one of the greatest writers in the English language. Most of these words were created through translations of Latin words or by combining words with prefixes and suffixes in original ways. In this clip, you'll discover the ...

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Can We Help?: New meanings: the processes of language change

Have you ever engaged in a bit of argle-bargle? It's the original form of a colloquialism you might be more familiar with: argy-bargy. But where does this phrase come from? Etymology is the study of the history and evolution of words. In this clip Professor Kate Burridge explains the origins of this curious phrase and other words.