Wednesday, January 2, 2013

ESPN, Culture and Speaking "English" Slang

At some point in the term, when teaching rhetorics, critical thinking, cultural literacies, speech, composition, or other topics - I find it important to discuss how language is a culturally/socially constructed semiotic system. (I usually work from a broader intro that looks at how ontology, epistemology and semiology treat a "thing," but that's another story.)

I am planning to incorporate these ESPN commercials to help students think about how language (in this case, English) is a living, growing set of signifiers and signifieds. Maybe some of my colleagues in related fields would be able to make creative instructional use of these artifacts as well...

Video one is the commercial I saw first - and though I had no idea what these guys were "saying" - I got the idea: the speakers seem to be exactly alike from a first-blush broad-brush categorizing of the individuals as being from the UK - but each views the other as a polar opposite.

A Second video (now disappeared from the web) slows the action down and adds definitions to the "slang" English from across the pond.

So, don't be a right divvy - spice up your sessions with these discussion starters/illustrations. And remember which video is which, or you'll look like a proper digital plonker.


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