Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Art of Connection

The Art of Connection

Do you find that you waste time wondering how to start the next sentence?
Do you find yourself lost for words when you are required to link your ideas coherently and persuasively?
Do your sentences flow together and support the larger structure?
Do you want your writing to communicate more effectively and efficiently?

The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences is an innovative practical book that explains the Nine Arts of Connection: Location, Timing, Comparison, Contrast and Difference, the Supplement, Disputation, Sequence, Example and Illustration, and the Summary.

By following the easy to use guides and examples provided in this book, writers can learn how to write fluently and begin to enjoy the process of composition.

Whether your are a student or learning English for the first time, this book will assist you to write successfully to achieve your goals. By dividing the common words and phrases used to signal transition and connection into nine categories this book guides the writer through the principles of effective writing and outlines everything that you need to know about the Nine Arts of Connection. Two thirds of the book are devoted to tried-and-tested examples of practical usage. This approach enables the writer to identify the value and effectiveness of connectvity as an active principle in composition.

A thought-provoking critical introduction also outlines in detail how effective writing employs a balance between creative flow or spontaneity, and the need to provide coherence, logical and structure.


Contents

1.0 Introduction

1.1 The Social Sentence
1.2 The Use of Connection
1.3 Understanding the Psychology of Transition
1.4 Style, Oratory, Elegance
1.5 The flow of spontaneity and passion
1.6 Power, Rhetoric and Repetition
1.7 The Philosophy of Association
1.8 Beyond the Logic of Connection
1.9 Écriture féminine
1.10 Openings: the genesis of this book

2. The Art of Location
3. The Art of Timing
4. The Art of Comparison
5. The Art of Contrast and Difference
6. The Art of the Supplement
7. The Art of Disputation
8. The Art of the Sequence
9. The Art of Example and Illustration
10. The Art of the Summary
Further Reading

About the Author

Dr Ian McCormick served as a Professor at the University of Northampton until 2009. He holds degrees in English Language and Literature (University of St Andrews (M.A.) and a doctorate awarded by the University of Leeds (Ph.D).

Ian's published work has been featured on BBC Radio and TV; in the Times Literary Supplement, The Observer, The Guardian, TimeOut (London), and in several academic journals. Awards and Prizes include the King James VI Prize (1989); the Lawson Memorial Prize (1985); British Academy Studentship (1990-93). Ian has also published and edited books on Gothic literature and Romanticism; sexuality and gender studies; modern and contemporary literature; teaching and learning strategies; drama education; and literary, critical and cultural theory.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Film Editing for Beginners – Understanding the Process



 PURPOSE

This blog examines problems and solutions for collaborative or participatory film editing.  I will be arguing that the time and resources spent on a loving and caring editing of the material filmed is a mark of respect for the community participants.

I'm saying that we need to value the detailed impact of micro-changes in film editing - it's part of the media butterfly effect.

Helpful advice on film editing typically focuses on the technical aspects of the process. Familiarity with Moviemaker, Adobe Premiere, AVID, Final Cut etc will be an advantage, but it is not the primary subject of my advice in this blog.

INTRODUCTION

Movie editing software may appear formidable to the beginner, volunteer, or amateur, but the reality is that you can learn the basics in half a day. Gaining a professional feel for editing process takes much longer, requires patience, and will not be everyone’s preferred activity.

Remember that attentive editing will take at least as long as your planning and production time filming added together.

There are many ways to make the process smoother and more efficient. There are also supplementary and specific problems for community film makers compared to corporate and commercial approaches.

PROBLEMS

Let’s admit at the outset that it is usually unrealistic to have all participants crowded around a laptop, attempting to view all the footage, at the end of a project.

Participants inevitably become disillusioned with the drawn-out discussions, disagreements, micro-changes, and tantalisingly slow pace. Demoralization and boredom is not your goal. No one is really happy with the final product, if you ever get that far.

TWO SOLUTIONS (for now)

Realize that the problems with the end points have their origin in the opening stages of the project.

Creative discussion and selection of topic, focus, and angle, need to be defined at the outset. These are a rough map, a sense of direction, rather than a prisoner’s cell.

(I don’t mean that you have to be too rigid in advance. That would be the death of a project in which, wonderfully, participants embark on a collective journey. But I will say that the characteristic emphasis on process, at all costs, can be disastrous for the quality of the outcome. Are we really aiming for mediocrity in which ‘everyone had a great time’ – do we really have to compromise? I am suspicious of those who police and enforce false binary oppositions such as planning and improvisation, fixed structure and organic evolution, process and product.)

MORE SOLUTIONS

Collective energy and community participation productively inform the storytelling and storyboarding of your idea or topic - at an early stage. A storyboard will be a guide-map for a smaller editing team to work from. A weak story or an incoherent sequence of events doesn’t impress anyone, and will alienate the community producers.

Some people like editing, others don’t. Find out early on in the project about people’s skills and preferences, and training requirements – don’t leave it all to the end.

Edit the film as you go along, in a rough and ready fashion. If you filled half a tape accidentally recording irrelevant chair legs there’s really no point wasting that space on your hard drive.

Respect people’s wish for their contribution to be deleted.

Review the day’s shooting with participants, if possible

Make notes on the best clips of the day. This is called logging. Invent the system that works best for you. Always label tapes or disks at the time of filming. Keep a note of the best clips, and the ‘who, what, where, when’ bits of information.

It should be possible to create a rough edit based on (1) a selection of the best material actually filmed; (2) the valued work of a trained editing person or small team; (3) referring back to the story and storyboard as guides.

In community film it is essential to allow participants to view and comment on the rough edit. Misrepresentation is a crime!

The rough edit screening is an opportunity for creative dialogue between the editor(s) and the other participants.

QUESTIONS for DISCUSSION

How can we make our film more relevant?

Despite our noble intentions - are we trying to appeal to too many disparate groups with insoluble differences between them?

How can we strengthen the people/character element of the story?

Is there anything that’s irrelevant, flabby or surplus? Are we lingering tediously over uninteresting shots?

What’s distracting our attention from the main message?

How can we make our film shorter? (We seldom encounter a community film that we would wish to be longer)

If there’s disagreement (excellent); if you can’t resolve it, why not identify an objective focus group for a screening of the rough edit?

Have the editors gone overboard on special effects? (Children in the sweet-shop syndrome)

There’s far more advice on editing – one could write a whole book on the subject, but I’m going to save the next cluster of tips until a later blog.


CONCLUSIONS

If you are an ‘old-fashioned’ film editor you will be lamenting the turn to digital media and fondly remembering the reels of film, dailies, rushes, the sheer physicality of cutting and sculpting your film. Films and documentaries took years to make and were seldom in reality produced on a low budget. Production belonged to an elite which sometimes produced wonderful works of social consciousness and poetic beauty.

Today’s world offers free or cheap editing software and non-linear editing which presents creative opportunities.

I believe that the often missing strand of creativity comes from the quality of the community engagements, as much as it does from the power afforded by a liberating technology.

Barry Hampe’s excellent book Making Documentary Films and Reality Videos inhabits both old and new worlds. He reminds us of the need for technique and craft.

He notes that ‘Video editing is an intellectual exercise that is more like running a spreadsheet on a computer than sculpting a work of art […] And I think the best documentaries are sculpted rather than assembled.’ (289)

But it would be unfair to omit his recognition of the ‘possibilities for playfulness’ presented by new editing systems that allow all footage to be uploaded on your laptop. I absolutely agree with the advice that you need to be familiar with what the footage (digital clips) is saying – on its own terms – rather than what you intended/ planned to record, or thought you had shot. An editor needs to be patient. Take your time. Follow Hampe’s advice:

Play with the footage and hold off on making final decisions until you are really familiar with what you’ve got. It will make you a better editor. And you will make a better documentary. (290)

If you’re working with a notion of community participation in your film edit - rather than the solitary romantic master-editor -  then patience and the generous allocation of time will be valued post-production aspects of your successful project.



© Dr Ian McCormick. 
But please do contact me if you want to use this article as a guest post on your blog, or in your community newsletter. With attribution offered I seldom refuse!

Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(2013) ... also available on Kindle, or to download. A bargain!




Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Is it really collaborative writing, or fantasy?

Stock characters in Commedia dell'arte

Moderately, or potentially ambiguous,  this title serves to capture my response to a work of collaborative fiction called The Mongoliad -  "a narrative of adventure fiction following the exploits of a small group of fighters and mystics in medieval Europe around the time of the Mongol conquests."

So far as one can tell the work was directed by  Neal Stephenson, with the support of Greg Bear, Nicole Galland, Mark Teppo . Other collaborators included "filmmakers, computer programmers, graphic artists, martial artists and combat choreographers, video game designers, and a professional editor."

"Stephenson gathered a group of martial arts enthusiasts interested in studying historical European swordfighting, and this eventually resulted in some of the members of this group collaborating on a set of stories that would make use of accurate representations of these martial arts." (wiki)

Initially there was a serialization deploying a variety of apps (2010-12), then a revised book was published in 2012.

Not being a knowledgeable fan of historical fantasy genre I came across a reference to this "project" while researching connected learning and the MOOC:

"Alternatively, parallels between MOOCs and commercial ventures such as the Massive Open Online Novel (http://mongoliad.com) or the “Indigo MBA” (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/Indigo-MBA/indigomba-giz.html) argue that there may be potential for revenue generation that do not unduly compromise the free and open nature of the MOOC model." (See: Alexander McAuley, Bonnie Stewart, George Siemens and Dave Cormier, The MOOC Model for Digital Practice, 2010)

If you're interested in this sort of stuff it's worth taking a look at the amazon page which explains the process of team, group and community composition; and the shifts in aesthetic strategy employed at different stages. The 370+ comments on the Amazon page are also an element in the critical co-production, as well as a compendium of multi-faceted insights into the process and the product.

Typically the wikipedia page offers very little in terms of critical evaluation or any controversial commentary on the project. I'd be interested to hear views on whether the book rises above a crude representation of the Mongol as cultural 'other' - displayed and represented purely for the frisson of horror, amusement and consumption offered up as a dainty feast to the American/Western readership.

 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences  

(Quibble Academic, 2013) ... also available on Kindle, or to download

Friday, 23 August 2013

Diminishing Returns and the Broken Promise of Participation


In this blog I offer thirty-one critical responses to the current fashion for participatory projects and methodologies. While my main focus is grounded in playing devil’s advocate to the evangelical exponents of participatory video, I am very open to being shot down - or at least engaged - in counter-dialogues. (Either through the comments section below, or privately by email). Please attribute all quotations from this unpaid work. It is my life.

Please also excuse the rhetorical tendency to exaggerate; I’m not using this blog to craft a highly nuanced critical essay.In other work I have addressed problems with, and potential solutions to collaborative models of work.

Also, I’m still working through a projection of what comes after the promise of participation...

  1. The participatory field is admittedly quite fuzzy, since arts projects in the community may be quite vague about their intended modes or levels of participation; engagement evidence is notoriously difficult to measure in terms of impacts and evaluation, and/or the empowerment achieved.

  1. There is a tendency to exclude those models or practices that are partially, or not primarily participatory. This may have the effect of potentially distorting the positive impact ratio of those projects that qualify as whole-heartedly in the fold.

  1. In reflective reports on participation, there is often the foggy sense of a contribution to social capital and community capital, without any sense of the methodological challenges to, or controversy around, these highly fashionable policy approaches and agendas. [See the note at the end of this blog]

  1. Another weakness is that an assumption of inequality is often built into the participatory model, or into the terms of project reference. Typically, this takes the form of ‘giving a voice to the voiceless’, ‘reaching to the hard to reach’, or ‘including the excluded.’ Patronising and bourgeois. I've seldom met an angry youth who lacked voice.

  1. Following from the previous point, is there not a residual romantic ideology of inspiration and failure at work in participatory discourses? Conversely, is there a lack of personalised, romantic intensity at work?

  1. Claims to the effectiveness of projects are frequently or symptomatically inflated because negative outcomes adversely affect future funding; 

  1. To interrogate claims on the level of value also risks offending the romantic foundations of creative worthiness of individuals in need of encouragement and support and their utopian community life that is just waiting to emerge after the intervention.

  1. How far are active and effective forms of participation specific to a time and place (Western, enlightened, or romantic) ?

  1. The coherence, fixity, or stability of the methodology is at odds with the variety, mobility and complexity of social practices.

  1. Claims to success are often anecdotal and ephemeral. This feature of the evaluation is then defended as a quality-led approach, or falls back on romantic notions designed to resist critical analysis.

  1. It is just as difficult to measure a variety of micro-impacts several years in the future, as it is to value the impact on one individual where the work had a major transformative dimension to his or her life’s work and direction. Participatory outcomes, like the medium term impact of the work of an inspiring teacher, are fundamentally difficult to qualify or quantify.

  1. Effectiveness is often expressed in terms of soft targets achieved such as ‘finding a voice’ rather than material improvement in people’s lived experience.

  1. There is a danger that participants become ambassadors for the local government’s unelected officers.

  1. The promise of participation is vaguely geared to future possibility or potentiality sleekly framed so as to remain forever unaccountable. Often there is a narrative turn that measures story rather than material impact.

  1. The clarity of the message delivered by participants is confused by the need to report positive or constructive changes taking place (alienated facilitator or funder agendas creeping in.)

  1. Sometimes it is clear that participants feel they have not expressed what the funder wanted, or that they have fallen short of a perceived goal. Such are 'compromised' projects. Is there not a conspiracy of silence about the frequency of these?

  1. Participants sense that they have not met the facilitators’ ideals which may be more ideologically coherent than the collective experience expressed by the participants. Has political correctness silenced certained voices?

  1. Funders are perceived to be the enemy, they are on the other side, whereas the reality is that they are tasked with (1) being responsible and accountable purseholders (2) having to respond to the priorities of their bosses, who are in turn, people elected by the people.

  1. Participatory discourses are stuck in a 1970s crafty-utopianism and fail to adequately take account of major cultural shifts expressed in postmodernity (Lyotard, Baudrillard), high modernity (Giddens), liquid modernity (Baumann), performativity (Butler), Enlightenment and communicative action (Habermas), Mass communications and culture (Adorno), convergence theory (Jenkins), ideology and psychoanalysis (Zizek), rhizomatic and intensive differences (Deleuze), singularities and complexities (teratology and chaos theory ...) ...

  1. In fact, the promise of the participatory is insulated from most of the major currents in contemporary cultural theory and tends to confine itself to narrower sociological, psychology or community work based analytical frames.

  1. Disciplinary boundaries are also strictly enforced as a consequence of the need for specialization and professionalization (Ivan Illich), or in line with academic career paths and associated research citations and outputs.

  1. In more general terms, where in one sense the participatory dimension lacks specificity and evidence, in another, it fails to engage with broader movements at work in society and in intellectual thought.

  1. Despite its proclaimed emphasis on communicative actions and contexts, participatory video practice becomes too rooted in its technology and IT-related skills rather than ontological awareness.

  1. Often the issue just mentioned is emphatic because funding has been awarded based on IT skills-development and employablity issues, narrowly defined. Instrumentality rules in a materialist-capitalist society (Marx). Taking this one step further leads into a Heideggerian perspective on a failure to think being.

  1. The participation is confined to an already ghettoized social sub-section, rather than promoting critical dialogues and creative disseminations between sections of society.

  1. As fashions and policies shift, specific groups are excessively favoured compared to others (e.g. youth)

  1. And may groups or localities may suffer new initiative fatigue, or become disenchanted by yet another innovatory intervention in which the participants are the ever-ready-made-laboratory-for-life.

  1. Because aims and objectives are narrowly project-specific, bounded by a specific time and locality, products of participation are quickly dated and disposed of. This represents poor value compared to other forms of intervention that may grow from within, rather than being professionally facilitated from above / without.

  1. Participation is seldom framed in terms of a wider architecture of a global politics of the silenced and the disenfranchised. What starts local stays local. Developmental means safely apolitical.

  1. Because participatory projects depend on trained facilitators there will in turn be a dependence on training programmes for facilitators and a reliance on specialist professionals who need to be paid for their work. As the public funding of social projects at all levels diminishes the viablity of this model has to be questioned.

  1. The participatory project seldom matches (or respects) the existing forms of organic participation in, and critical distance from, the already ‘present’ forms of popular culture or lived experiences. Looked at another way, there is a vaguely embarrassing effort on the part of facilitators to co-opt current themes such as gangs, guns, mobiles and hip-hop, in order to ‘come closer’ to the ‘life’ of the people. Again this may simply valorize the ephemeral in a process of collective top-down indulgence, rather than addressing the critical challenge of the ‘other.’

© Dr Ian McCormick.

Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(Quibble Academic, 2013)

Notes


Problems with Conceptualisation of Social Capital

As identified above, the conceptualization of social capital is the biggest challenge facing proponents of the theory. At present there is a lack of rigorous conceptualization of social capital (Krishna and Uphoff 2002). Lin, Cook et al (2001, p. 58) identified that there is a 'danger that we may reach a point where the term might be used in whatever way it suits the purpose at hand, and thus be rendered meaningless as a scientific concept that must meet the rigorous demands of theoretical and research validity and reliability'. Fine (1999) pointed out that social capital is taking over explanations of economic development, growth, and prosperity, he also suggest that social capital had other possibilities before being turned against the other social sciences by economics (Fevre 2000).  Hean, Cowley et al (2003) made the observation that the accumulation of literature on social capital has begun to obscure the understanding of the concept. The inappropriate measurement techniques that have been implemented have caused problems for understanding social capital at the conceptual level and led to debate over whether the concept is relevant or appropriate (Stone 2001). Or as McHugh and Prasetyo (2002, p. 1) put it, 'the proliferation of competing definitions, analytical methods and applications associated with the term is perhaps only dwarfed in volume by the literature critical of its theoretical ambiguity, ambitious conceptual scope, and practical over-versatility'.




© Dr Ian McCormick. But please do contact me if you want to use this article as a guest post on your blog.
Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(Quibble Academic, 2013)
Further Reading

Arnstein, S. R. (1969) "A Ladder of Citizen Participation" JAIP 35 (4) 216-24

Bandura, A. (1995) “Exercise of personal and collective efficacy in changing societies” in Self-efficacy in changing societies. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 1-
45

Barnado’s Report (2001). “Do community-based arts projects result in social gains? A review of literature.” By Authors: Tony Newman, Katherine Curtis and Jo Stephens. Available here http://www.barnardos.org.uk/commarts.pdf

Bauman Z. (2006) Liquid Times: living in an Age of Uncertainty. Cambridge; Polity Press.

Bery, R. (2003) “Participatory Video that empowers” Participatory Video: images that Transform and Empower, S. A. White (eds.) New Delhi, Sage publications: 102-
21.

Blond, P. (2010) Red Tory: How Left and Right have broken Britain and how we can fix it. London, Faber and Faber.

Boog, B. W. M. (2003) "The emancipatory character of action research, its history and the present state of the art" Journal of Community and Applied Social
Psychology 13(6) pp. 426-438.

Braden, S. (2004) Participation: A promise unfulfilled? Building alliances between
government and people. Research Report. Dept For International Development, UK.

Braden, S. and M. Mayo (1999) "Culture, community development and representation" Community Development Journal 34(3)

Buckingham, D., M. Pini and R. Willett (2007) “‘Take back the tube!’: The discursive
construction of amateur film and video making” Journal of Media Practice
8(2) pp. 183-201

Carpentier, N., R. Lie and J. Servaes (2003) “Community Media: muting the democratic media discourse?” Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 17(1)

Castells, M. (2009) Communication Power. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Chvasta, M. (2006) “Anger, Irony and Protest: confronting the issue of efficacy, Again” Text and Performance Quarterly 26(1) pp. 5-16

Cohen, M.B. and Mullender, A. (2006) “The Personal in the Political: Exploring the
Group Work Continuum from Individual to Social Change Goals” Social Work
With Groups 28 (3/4) 187-204

Cooke, B. (2001) “The Social Psychological limits of participation?” B. Cooke and U.
Kothari (eds.) Participation: the New Tyranny? London, Zed Books: 102-21.

Craig, G. and Mayo, M. (eds.) (1995) Community empowerment: a reader in
participation and development.  London, Zed Books.

Deleuze, G. and F. Guattari (1987) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and
Schizophrenia.  (trans.)  B. Massumi London, New York, Continuum International.

Dinham, A. (2005) “Empowered or over-powered? The real experiences of local
participation in the UK's New Deal for Communities” Community Development
Journal, Oxford University Press

Ellsworth, E. (1989) "Why doesn't this feel empowering?" Harvard Educational Review, (59): 297-324.

Freire, P. (1970) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London, Penguin

Freire, P. (1972) Cultural action for freedom.

Freire, P. (1974) Education for Critical Consciousness. London, Continuum

Freire, P. and D. P. Macedo (1987) Literacy: reading the word and the world. London, Routledge and Kegan Paul

Freire, P. (1994) Pedagogy of Hope: re-living Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York,
Continuum

Giddens, A. (1991) Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern
Age Cambridge, Polity Press / Basil Blackwell.

Giddens, A. (1991) The consequences of modernity. California, Stanford University
Press.

Giddens, A (2000) The third way: The Renewal of Social Democracy. Cambridge, Polity Press / Basil Blackwell.

Goffman, E. (1990) The presentation of self in everyday life. Harmondsworth, Penguin

Habermas, J. (1984) The theory of communicative action: life world and system, a
critique of functionalist reason. London, Heinemann Education.

Habermas, J. (1989) The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Cambridge, Polity Press.

Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where old and new media collide. London,
New York, New York University Press.

Jovchelovitch, S. (2007) Knowledge in context: Representations, Community and
Culture. London and New York, Routledge.

Loxley, J. (2007) Performativity: The New Critical Idiom. Routledge.

Lyotard, J. (1984) The post modern condition: a report on knowledge. Manchester,
Manchester University Press.

Matarasso, F. (2007) “Common ground: cultural action as a route to community
development” Community Development Journal 42 (4) 449-458

Reason, P. and H. Bradbury (2001) Handbook of Action Research: participative Inquiry and Practice. London, Sage publications.

Shaw, J. and C. Robertson (1997) Participatory video: a practical approach to using
video creatively in group development work. London, Routledge.

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

White, S. A. (2003) Participatory Video: images that Transform and Empower. New Delhi and London, Sage Publications.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Examining the Examination: why Students Pass or Fail



Exams are increasingly selected as the 'gold standard' in the debate about raising academic standards.

Compared to coursework, exams are relative quick and easy to assess. They are also free from the issues of plagiarism and other forms of cheating that have proliferated in coursework. Indeed, my research shows that with the right money ($100) it is now very straightforward to purchase online a plagiarism-proof, first class, or A* Essay.

In that context I believe that we will be seeing greater reliance on exams in the future, and more of them will be marked by machines in a move toward improved technological efficiency of the educational production line. Their place in the system is secured.

In my view, examination procedures involve a special kind of discipline and they operate as a regime, such as that which we might encounter in a prison. Foucault was not wrong when he linked knowledge and power at an institutional level.

And exams are also a theatre of persecution, where the performance is loaded with expectations, rituals, and associations, most of them negative. For many candidates, the personal experience of the examination is tantamount to sadistic dehumanisation.

As in all power scenarios, the entire event is staged according to simple rules and queer conventions. With a little effort we can step back from that and see examination for what it is: the play of institutionalisation and a game of power. 

But with the right tactics in place you could become a master of the game, and not its pathetic victim. Yet inevitably those who succeed will become the new advocates for more probing examinations as the only way forward.

If you learn to play by the rules the whole process can be exhilarating and very rewarding. 

It will also be your most unforgettable performance and may affect much of your future life prospects.

In the next blog I will list 15 specific reasons why students fail to meet their exam expectations. If you address these issues methodically, you will significantly improve your exam performance !

What has been your experience of exams? Are you a student, parent, teacher, or an examiner?

If you have any exam tips, advice, or recommendations, please feel free to comment below.

For many people, the examination is worse than a trip to the dentists for a tooth extraction, or an episode of surgical examination that results in your guts being ripped out. It's the worst form of dehumanisation.


How did you get over the trauma of examination?


Dr Ian McCormick is the author of
The Art of Connection: The Social Life of Sentences  

(Quibble Academic, 2013)
 



Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Onomastic Pronouncements

Did any of you hear Carole Hough, apparenntly Great Britain's only named "Professor of Onomastics" (University of Glasgow) speaking on BBC R4 this morning? Interesting to hear that her own name has three pronunciations: Huff, Howe and Hock!

So what is Onomastics?

"Onomastics or onomatology is the study of proper names of all kinds and the origins of names. The words are from the Greek: "ὀνομαστικός" (onomastikos), "of or belonging to naming" and "ὀνοματολογία" (onomatologia), from "ὄνομα" (ónoma) "name".Toponymy or toponomastics, the study of place names, is one of the principal branches of onomastics. Anthroponomastics is the study of personal names."

Some of my favourite weird English names are

Beaulieu              pronounced      Bewly

Cecil                   pronounced      Sissill

Cholmondeley     pronounced      Chum-ly

Derby                 pronounced      Darby

Gifford                pronounced      Jifford

Holborn              pronounced      Hob'n

Buccleuch           pronounced      Buck-loo

Fiennes               pronounced      Fines

StJohn                pronounced      Sin-j'n

Rhondda             pronounced      Ron-tha

Knollys               pronounced      Noles

Drogheda           pronounced      Droider

Leuchars            pronounced      Lucas

If you want to know more about the English Place-Name Society (EPNS), the Scottish Place-Name Society (SPNS), the Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland (SNSBI) and the International Congress of Onomastic Sciences (ICOS) why not consult Prof Hough's entertaining and informative website?

Before long you'll be following the revealing etymologies of place names and you could be taking a linguistic tour of Great Britain's rich, multi-layered heritage.

Buccleuch Foods
Buccleuch Foods

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Educational Writings and Skills Blogs

Several of my blogs on education, study skills, academic writing, exams, English language/literature and creativity have now migrated to my new blog which you will find here.

52 Examples of Creative Writing Activities.

Creative Writing: 5 Old Problems and 14 New Principles. 

Poetry at War with Itself: the Sound of Futility. 

My Five a Day: Writing Poetry 1. 

The Vocabulary of Fear, e.g. Onomatophobia. 

Ugly Urchin Alliteration: a Poetry Appreciation Prime.

Gender, Women's Writing and Feminism. 

A Song for St. Cecilia's Day.

52 Favourite Children's Books.

Light and Shadow: the Age of Kindle.

106 Ways to Avoid the word "SAID"

 Sound must seem an echo to the Sense!