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Listed under:  Language  >  Language conventions  >  Language evolution
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Unit for Year 5 to 6 Butterflies: Engaging with nature

This unit of work engages students in preparing butterfly gardens in their schoolgrounds. It explores scientific entomology, features of insects (including butterflies), the contributions that butterflies make to a healthy environments, and the characteristics of butterfly gardens. The unit includes worksheets, assessment ...

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Can We Help?: New meanings: the processes of language change

Have you ever engaged in a bit of argle-bargle? It's the original form of a colloquialism you might be more familiar with: argy-bargy. But where does this phrase come from? Etymology is the study of the history and evolution of words. In this clip Professor Kate Burridge explains the origins of this curious phrase and other words.

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Can We Help?: Changing letter sounds and butterflies

Have you ever wondered why you can't just add a prefix such as 'in-' to the beginning of a word to make its opposite? Professor Kate Burridge explains how a prefix is influenced by the sound of the letters that come after it. She also gives two explanations about the origins of the word 'butterfly'.

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Can We Help?: Efficient speech: the process of language change

Wassup, bro?Well 'pparently I ain't speakin' right.Will thou ha' the truth on't?We often think that only young people speak in abbreviated forms, but the truth is people have been doing this since Anglo-Saxon times! In this clip discover with Professor Kate Burridge some words that belong to the 'zero plurals' group, why ...

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Can We Help?: Subjunctivitis! Fact or 'Furphy'?

Why is 'were' used in 'If I were king' and what is the subjunctive? What do water sources and gossip have in common? If you don't know then you need to watch and listen as Professor Kate Burridge and Peter Rowsthorn explore these questions.

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Can We Help?: Dude: American words and pronunciations

Where does the word 'dude' come from? Why do speakers of English often pronounce words differently depending on their country of origin - not only because of their accent? Find out with Professor Kate Burridge when she takes on these questions from viewers.

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Can We Help?: Word histories: how extraordinary!

Words can change over time and so can their meanings. The word 'extra' broke away from other words to become a word on its own. Professor Kate Burridge explains how this impacts on words like 'extraordinary'. She also explains the origins and meanings of the words 'hearse' and 'rehearse''.

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Can We Help?: Vanishing words: the process of language change

The English language is full of strange contradictions and vanishing words. Have you ever wondered why we sometimes put words together that contradict each other, such as 'pretty awful' or 'terribly good'? If we can be 'ruthless', can we be 'ruthly' as well? Watch as Professor Kate Burridge explains these curious irregularities ...

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Can We Help?: Shakespeare words: the process of language change

Imagine being responsible for inventing over 1700 words! That is the legacy of William Shakespeare, one of the greatest writers in the English language. Most of these words were created through translations of Latin words or by combining words with prefixes and suffixes in original ways. In this clip, you'll discover the ...

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Evolving English: Where do new words come from?

What do you think the term Spanglish might mean? Or Chinglish? Or Franglais? Our language is constantly changing and one way in which it does so is by 'borrowing' words from other languages. In this clip, learn about our evolving language.

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Shakespearean Language

This resource for students is the first in a series of three entitled 'Introduction to Shakespeare', which focuses mainly on 'The Taming of the Shrew'. Students are asked to write sentences in modern English which feature a common word from Shakespeare's time. A link to Shakespearean insults is then provided and students ...

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Introduction to Shakespeare: Ten Things I Hate about You

This resource for students is the third in a series of three entitled 'Introduction to Shakespeare', which is mainly based on a study of 'The Taming of the Shrew'. This resource asks students to: write a plot summary of the film; contrast plot flow charts of the play and the film; discuss gender roles in Shakespeare's ...

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Where did English come from?

This short video for students traces English from the present day back to its ancient roots, showing how English has evolved through generations of speakers

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Big Ideas: Evolving English and the impact of television

Imagine if the English language never evolved. What would we be speaking? Possibly Old English, the language of the Anglo-Saxon tribes, a language written down using runes known as the 'futhorc'. English continues to evolve, but it takes the media to bring new words into common usage. So which form of media is responsible ...

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Can We Help?: Golly gosh, what do those sayings mean?

Have you ever wondered where sayings like 'golly gosh', 'by gum' or 'drat' come from? In this video, Professor Kate Burridge explains the origins and meaning of these and other sayings. She also explains the history of the pronoun 'you'.

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Can We Help?: Why do we say the words the way we do?

What kinds of things might influence the way we pronounce words in English? Professor Kate Burridge explains why knowing when 'kilometre' came into English helps us to understand why it is pronounced differently from similar words such as 'kilogram' and 'centimetre'. She also explains what it means to 'barrack' for a team.

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Can We Help?: From possessive apostrophes to discombobulation!

People often worry about the use of apostrophes. See how Professor Kate Burridge answers a question about how to use the apostrophes after certain names, telling us how the rule has changed over time. She also explains the origins of the word 'discombobulate' and why the plural of house is not 'hice'.

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Big Ideas: Evolving English and the role of social media

How many times have you heard teenagers berated for using the term 'like'? Yet this term has existed at least since 1586 when the term, 'Yon man is like out of his mind' was written into history. The truth is, our language is constantly evolving, with new words added, others dying off and some resurfacing again. In this ...

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Can We Help?: Words and sayings over time

Have you ever wondered where sayings like 'hanging by the skin of your teeth' come from? Professor Kate Burridge explains the origin and meaning of this saying. She also explains the opposite word (antonym) to 'misogynist' (someone who hates or has a long and deep prejudice against women) and the origins of the word 'goodbye'.

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Can We Help?: 'Bought' or 'brought' and radio code

Changes in the use, pronunciation, and meaning of common everyday English words happen all the time. Professor Kate Burridge explains that we can see this in the way people increasingly switch the past tense of the verbs 'buy' and 'bring'. She also answers a viewer's question about why 'Roger' is used on two-way and CB radios.