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LRDG: Language Attitudes and Practice in Newswriting Contexts

Date: 6 May 2014 Time: 1.00-2.00 pm

Venue: C89, County South, Lancaster University

At the next Literacy Research Discussion Group session (Tuesday 6 May) we will be pleased to welcome Colleen Cotter (Queen Mary University of London) who will be speaking on:

Language Attitudes and Practice in Newswriting Contexts

Journalists have a very conscious awareness of language as the primary tool of their craft, correlating prescriptive usage with professional literacy and skill and emphasizing these points at all stages of professional development, starting in newswriting classes and continuing throughout their careers. On one level, as self-identified "protectors" of the language (Cotter 2010, 2014), they explicitly follow prescriptive norms and operate as arbiters of usage, in the process functioning as an active partner in society's language standardization dynamic, fostered by the written variety (cf. Milroy and Milroy 1999).

On another level, they respond to social and cultural change, promoting (or reacting to) linguistic innovation in ways that other standard-language-based registers (e.g., in education, academic publishing) do not. The state of the language is very much part of journalists' professional discourse or metatalk, as I will show. Examples are drawn from The Associated Press stylebooks and online commentary from journalists. The data show the degree to which there is an ongoing conversation or metatalk about language within the news profession; the expansion of this engagement that online discussion formats have afforded; and the active role the news media expect themselves to play in the linguistic and social support and maintenance of the standard variety.


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Linguistics and English Language

Keywords: Language variation and change, Literacy, Writing (general)


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
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