Hillcroft LRC

Posts Tagged ‘linguistics

book-v-tabletIt is interesting in education (including at Hillcroft), how we push our students to read more materials online. Essentially, this is for three reasons. The first is preparing our students for university life where they will encounter even more electronic resources, the second is building up digital skills for university/working life, the third is using material 24/7 on and offsite and the fourth is sustainability (saving paper).

A short article in last week’s New Scientist by Emma Young intrigued us as although it was essentially about finding better ways to read in the digital age, it also provided some of the latest thinking about on-screen versus print reading. We’ve used the word ‘thinking’ as there is a lack of meaningful data on how and why people read on screens. The article quotes from two experts in the field of linguistics – Anne Mangen from the Reading Centre at the University of Stavanger, Norway and Naomi Baron at the Department of Language and Foreign Studies at the American University in Washington, D.C.

The keys points they were making (based on U.S. data) are:

  • The reading of print books is declining with a corresponding rise in ebooks although ebook sales are slowing possibly due to cost.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests people find it harder to read PDFs as it is more difficult to navigate compared to print text. Contextual markers are missing on electronic pages so if a reader wanted to go back to pick up on something requiring clarification, finding it three-quarters of the way down the page is tricky.
  • It is probably better to read complex material in print.
  • Progress on a tablet (for fiction) is not the same as tactile progress through a paperback.
  • When using ‘find’ on an electronic device, the results are too specific so the reader does not benefit from the broader text.
  • There are good points with electronic devices particularly the ability to change and enlarge the font.
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It’s easy to think that it’s other people who are the movers and shakers, those who change history and the world. Yet one way we are all agents of change and creativity is in our use of language. According to David Crystal in a blog post Speaking Shakespeare Today:

Conversation is “unpredictable in its subject-matter, and keeps us on our toes. It is unpredictable in its participation: in a group we never quite know who is going to talk next. It is interactive, and therefore unpredictable in the reactions we encounter. It requires us to read between the lines, as people bring their individual backgrounds, presuppositions, and assumptions to bear.”

We could all learn a thing or two about communicating using better presentation skills and interesting words. We could take David’s suggestion and look at what Shakespeare does with words – such as turning a noun into a verb like I did with this blog post title. Tips straight from the Southwark wordsmith.

If you are interested in linguistics and language we have a number of books in the reference collection including the fascinating: From bonbon to cha-cha: Oxford dictionary of foreign words and phrases.

 

 


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