We’re delighted to announce the winners of 2020’s final set of Pre-GCSE Inspire competitions! In Class 4, Evolution in culture, we used the principles of evolution as a metaphor to examine cultural change in our history as human beings. We examined language change, both in the past and in today’s digital world, and then looked at the evolution of musical styles. Competitions in this class tackled various elements of language change, and our Year 10 pupils had some really interesting insights into these subjects! You can read some of their work below.
Congratulations to the winners of Class 4 competitions:
Each of you have won an Amazon voucher. This will be sent to the email address you provided in your competition cover sheet; please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you haven’t received yours by the end of the week.
Competition 7: Language evolution
Find someone your parents’ age or older, and ask them what words for common objects they used to use when they were young that they don’t use or hear other people using any more. For example, wood lice can be referred to as cheesy bugs, roly polies, woodpigs or even something else depending on where you come from. Some of these words may be dialect and not a part of Standard English; others may have fallen out of use. If you speak a different language at home, it might be worth thinking about the interaction between this language and English. Think about why these words may have fallen out of use, and write a 300-word essay about what you have found.
First place: Adchaya, Ealing
Second place: Sabirah, Ealing
Competition 8: What even are words anymore?
The American Dialect Society, an organisation studying varieties of American English, chooses an annual ‘word of the year’. Here are a few recent examples of the ADS’s words of the year:
|Year||Word of the year||Notes|
|2013||because||introducing a noun, adjective, or other part of speech: ‘because reasons’ or ‘because awesome’|
|2014||#blacklivesmatter||in response to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement|
|2015||they (singular)||‘they’ used as a singular third-person pronoun (‘They’ also became the ADS’s word of the decade earlier this year)|
|2017||fake news||in response to the 2016 US presidential election|
|2019||pronouns||referring to personal pronouns; for example: ‘my personal pronouns are she/her/hers’|
You can see that theseare quite different to what we might usually think of as ‘words’. What can you conclude about the American Dialect Society’s approach to choosing a ‘word of the year’, especially in terms of what it means for something to be defined as a word? Using the resources on this page, write a 300-word essay in which you consider this topic.
First place: Adchaya, Ealing
Second place: Lovedeep, Ealing
American Dialect Society’s approach to choosing a ‘word of the year’
From past choices for words of the year I can conclude that the American dialect society’s approach to choosing a ‘word of the year’ relies on the major events and influences of that year. The ‘word’ is not judged by the standard of English or whether it would make sense to people of the past but whether it would mean something to the people of that time. Something is classified as a word more depending on how much meaning it holds for people in that year or even later rather than the past.
The approach has shifted from words inspired by individuals of importance at the time – for example the word of the year in 1990 was “bushlips” which stems from George H.W. Bush – to words that are influential or closely related to millions of individuals and their lives for example the word of the year for 2019 was “pronouns”. This word is important because of problems with gender identity experienced by millions even today and the importance of pronouns for some individuals especially people part of the LQBTQ+ community, that take up millions of the population.
In conclusion, American Dialect society’s approach to the word of the year now majorly revolves around global movements or major trends that do not follow the general rules that would need to be followed to be considered a word especially in the past; the important criteria to be considered a word have shifted from grammar and how much it makes sense to how much it means to people and how it impacted the lives of millions over the course of just a single year. Words are also chosen by how much people have used it over the year for whatever reason whether it is a trend or a movement of importance.
Remember: the deadline for Class 5’s competitions is 5pm Wednesday, 13 January 2021. In this class, we are reviewing the topics of evolution and volcanoes, and the competition tasks are larger projects you can complete over the winter holidays. We look forward to receiving your entries in the new year!