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You say toe-mato, we say tomato

18th June 2018

Have you ever felt like President Trump is speaking another language? This year’s linguistics lecture at Northumbria will explore this very issue as guest speaker Lynne Murphy discusses the ‘special relationship’ between British and US English.

Taking place this Wednesday 20 June at Northumbria’s City Campus, the University’s Annual Linguistics Lecture will be given by Professor Lynne Murphy, author of The Prodigal Tongue: The Love–Hate Relationship between British and American English. This fascinating discussion will begin at 6pm. Tickets are free, but spaces are limited so book today by clicking here to avoid missing out.  

A Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sussex in Brighton, she is also the author of the popular blog Separated by a Common Language, under her alter ego ‘Lynneguist’. In her blog, Professor Murphy reflects on UK–US linguistic differences from the perspective of an American linguist in England, while fighting the good fight against linguistic myths and prejudice. This battle continues in her new book – and will also be the focus of her upcoming talk at Northumbria.

“I’m very excited to be giving the Annual Linguistics Lecture at Northumbria,” she said. “Both because I love talking about language with interested people, and because I love any excuse to visit Newcastle. It's such a vibrant city.”

She adds: “When faced with British English, Americans sometimes feel a bit insecure about their own linguistic abilities. When thinking about American English, Britons often express dismissiveness or fear. This has been going on for nearly 300 years, developing into a complex mythology of British–American linguistic relations.”

Professor Murphy’s talk will look into the current state of this ‘special relationship’ between the two national standards.

“How did we get to the point that the BBC publishes headlines like ‘How Americanisms are killing the English language’ while Americans tweet ‘Everything sounds better in a British accent’?” Professor Murphy asks. “The answer is in a broad set of problematic beliefs. We’ll look at how different the two national Englishes are (and why they’re not more different), why neither has claim to being older than the other, and why technology isn’t making us all speak or write the same English.”

Northumbria’s Professor of Linguistics Billy Clark has helped organised this year’s lecture.  

“We are delighted that Professor Lynne Murphy will be delivering our Annual Linguistics Lecture this year,” he said. “Lynne is an engaging speaker who knows lots about the ways in which British and American English differ and about some of the myths and misconceptions we have about this.

“Her talks are always fascinating and entertaining. This talk will interest anyone who's interested in how language use varies in general as well as on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.”

Northumbria’s annual linguistics lecture is taking place on Wednesday 20 June at Lipman Lecture Theatre (Room 031, Lipman Building), at Northumbria’s City Centre campus. Professor Murphy’s lecture will begin at 6pm. Book your place now by clicking here.

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