Survey Seminar Series Spring 2017

The Survey of English Usage organises a number of seminars each year for staff and students from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and beyond. They are generously sponsored by the English Department.

The following research seminars took place during the Spring term.

Both seminars took place at 4.15pm in Foster Court 239.

Tuesday 28 February, 4.15pm, Foster Court 239

  Ellen Smith-Dennis (Warwick)
Contact with a contact language: language endangerment and linguistic change in Papapana

This paper investigates the consequences of language contact for Papapana, an endangered Austronesian language of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea (PNG). PNG is a region with considerable linguistic diversity where multilingualism is the norm and language contact is pervasive. Papapana speakers have historically been in contact with speakers of neighbouring Papuan (non-Austronesian) languages, and this has led to grammatical change: Papapana displays a partial shift from left-headed to right-headed typology, evident it its clause orders, possessive constructions and obliques. However, since European colonization in the late 19th century, Papapana speakers have also come into contact with speakers of English and the English-based creole Tok Pisin. A creole is itself an outcome of language contact; in this case evolving mainly from English and the local Austronesian languages. Therefore it is interesting that in the Papapana speech community, it is now Tok Pisin which is influencing Papapana. Not only has contact with Tok Pisin contributed to language shift and language endangerment, but also to further linguistic change, specifically lexical change and lexical calquing. There are also a number of English loan words. This paper explores the nature of this lexical change and the reasons why there is language shift to Tok Pisin.

Wednesday 15 March 4.15pm, Foster Court 239

Rob Lawson (Birmingham City, with Mark McGlashan)
“You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes”: A socio-corpus analysis of language and masculinity in an online ‘Pick Up Artist’ community

In 2014, self-proclaimed ‘pick-up artist’ (PUA hereafter) Julien Blanc was denied entry to the UK following a campaign against his promotion of sexual violence and assault against women (Travis 2014). This intervention was one of the first occasions where the strategies of the PUA community shifted away from the confines of private online settings and into the media limelight.

Although PUA communities generally position themselves as ‘self-help’ fora for men to discuss methods of attracting sexual partners, the linguistic strategies used in these communities, including how women are represented, discussed and positioned, remain relatively underexplored in language, gender and sexualities research (although see Jones and Merrison 2012; Dayter and Rüdiger 2016).

In this paper, preliminary results of a corpus-based study of the online PUA community ‘The Red Pill’, a Reddit board (‘subreddit’) with ~200,000 subscribers are presented. The corpus was constructed by extracting comments and submission text from the 100 top submissions, totaling ~2m words. The focus is primarily on dominant (i.e. frequent) forms of social actor representation and practices that are part of the construction of online masculine identities. This work contributes to current debates concerning contemporary constructions of masculinities in online spaces (cf. Hardaker and McGlashan 2015), and highlights potential research directions in terms of ‘alt-right’ masculine identities.


Dayter, D. and Rüdiger, S., 2016. Reporting from the field: The narrative reconstruction of experience in pick-up artist online communities. Open Linguistics, 2 (1).

Hambling-Jones, O. and Merrison, A.J.. 2012. Inequity in the pursuit of intimacy: An analysis of British pick-up artist interactions.Journal of Pragmatics, 44 (9): 1115-1127.

Hardaker, C. and McGlashan, M. 2015. ‘Real men don’t hate women’: Twitter rape threats and group identity.Journal of Pragmatics, 91 (1): 80-93.

Travis, A. 2014. Julien Blanc barred from entry to UK.The Guardian. » Guardian website. Last accessed 9/02/17.

This page last modified 14 May, 2020 by Survey Web Administrator.