Literature and Languages

Year 12 Shadowing Scheme 2015

Chetwynd Court

Find out for yourself what living and studying at Cambridge is really like

If you are in Year 12 at a UK school and nobody from your family has studied at university / not many from your school have got places at Oxford and Cambridge, you might like to find out more by applying for a place on the CUSU Shadowing Scheme.

If you get a place, you would be invited to spend a few days in Cambridge, living in one of the Colleges and "shadowing" a current student studying the subject that you are interested in, that is, going to lectures, supervisions, social activities etc with them. It's a really good way to get a taste of what studying here is really like so do read the details if you think that you might be eligible to apply.

Date posted: 

Thursday 2 October 2014

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Choosing school subjects

The river in King's

For Cambridge Economics, Maths is required and Further Maths is very helpful where available.

If you have just started Year 11 (15-16 year olds), you will soon need to start thinking about which subjects you will take next year.

If you would like to study at a selective university such as Cambridge or another university in the Russell Group, it is especially important to make sure that you choose subjects that will give you good preparation for courses that you may want to apply for. You may already have a favourite subject that you can research, but don't worry if you don't know yet - the advice about making well-informed choices will help to put you in the best position for when you choose a university course later on. 

As well as the subjects you already do at school, it is worth remembering that there are a lot more courses available that you start new at university - the perfect course for you may be something you've not thought of yet!!

To help you with this process:

Date posted: 

Wednesday 10 September 2014

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Beginning New Testament Greek

Greek text

Credit: darkwood67

Theology and Religious Studies students at Cambridge study a scriptural language in first year, choosen from New Testament Greek, Hebrew, Qur'anic Arabic or Sanscrit. You don't need to have studied foreign languages before, and this is a great opportunity to learn one of the original languages in which the texts of a major world religion were written.

If you are interested in New Testament Greek, we hope that you will find the new website launched by Cambridge Divinity Faculty useful:

Date posted: 

Tuesday 9 September 2014

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Economic Success Drives Language Extinction

Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia, named by the local Pitjantjatjara people. The Pitjantjatjara language is classified as vulnerable by UNESCO. Image credit: Sjoerd van Oosten.

Thriving economies are the biggest factor in the disappearance of minority languages and conservation should focus on the most developed countries where languages are vanishing the fastest, finds a new study. - See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/economic-success-drives-language-exti...

A new study has revealed that economic growth and globalisation are driving the loss of minority languages.

The researchers, including Cambridge Zoologist Tatsuya Amano, used the criteria for defining endangered species (as defined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) to measure the rate and extent of language loss. They then analysed the geographical distribution of the endangered languages in order to draw conclusions about how and why they have gone into decline. Dr. Amano explained that:

As economies develop, one language often comes to dominate a nation's political and educational spheres. People are forced to adopt the dominant language or risk being left out in the cold - economically and politically.

The researchers argue that conservation efforts should therefore be focused on minority languages in more economically developed regions, such as northwestern North America and northern Australia.

Read the researchers' findings in full in Tatsuya Amano et al, 'Global Distribution and Drivers of Language Extinction Risk,' Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 281 (October 2014).

Consult the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.

Look into the conservation efforts of the Endangered Language Alliance in New York City and the online Endangered Languages Project. National Geographic's  Enduring Voices project has produced eight online talking dictionaries in an effort to conserve minority languages.

  • What are the benefits / risks of applying the criteria for defining endangered species to minority languages?
  • How best can minority languages be protected?  Or should they be protected at all?
used the criteria for defining endangered species to measure rate and prevalence of language loss, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature - See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/economic-success-drives-language-exti...
used the criteria for defining endangered species to measure rate and prevalence of language loss, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. - See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/economic-success-drives-language-exti...
used the criteria for defining endangered species to measure rate and prevalence of language loss, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. - See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/economic-success-drives-language-exti...
used the criteria for defining endangered species to measure rate and prevalence of language loss, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. - See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/economic-success-drives-language-exti...

Date posted: 

Wednesday 3 September 2014

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Language and spatial conceptions of time

Watch

Credit: epSos.de

In most languages time is talked about in spatial terms, with the future presented as being 'in front' of the person experiencing it. For example, in English we speak about 'looking forward' to doing something.

A recent study in Psychology looked at the conceptualisation of time in Moroccan speakers of Arabic. Although in linguistic terms, the future is 'ahead' in Arabic just as it is in English, Juanma de la Fuente and colleagues found that Moroccan Arabic speakers went against this convention in their hand gestures, with implications for how we understand space-time mappings. (1)

Juanma de la Fuente and colleagues also mention Aymara, a language from the Andean region of western Bolivia. In Aymara, the relation between time and space does not seem to work in the same way. To quote a different article:

In Aymara, the basic word for FRONT (nayra, "eye/front/sight") is also a basic meaning PAST, and the basic word for BACK (qhipa, "back/behind") is a basic expression for FUTURE meaning. [...] Is it in fact an instance of the same mappings as we have seen in other languages, "reversed" in some way, or are there quite different metaphoric mappings involved? How would we know? (2)

How do you think that the differences between English and Aymara would be of interest to researchers in Linguistics and Psychology? Can you think of any research questions or hypotheses? How would you design an experiment to test your ideas?

You may be interested to look at:

(1) This British Psychology research digest post about the research by Juanma de la Fuente and colleagues.

(2) This difficult but interesting article about Aymara: Rafael Nunez and Eve Sweetser, 'With the Future Behind Them: Convergent Evidence from Aymara Language and Gesture in the Crosslinguistic Comparison of Spatial Construsals of Time' in Cognitive Science 30 (2006), pp1-49

If you would like to keep yourself informed about research topics in Psychology, do keep an eye on the British Psychological Society Research Digest Blog.

Date posted: 

Thursday 21 August 2014

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Cambridge College Open Days for Year 13

Entrance to King's Porters' Lodge

The Porters' Lodge, just inside the entrance of King's on King's Parade

If you are planning to apply to Cambridge this October and would like to attend a College Open Day, do see this page for the events available.

Here at King's, we welcome bookings for our open afternoon on Tuesday 16 September - see our open days page for details and the form.

If you are visiting other Colleges and would like to see King's on the same day, do introduce yourself at the porters' lodge and say that you will be applying to Cambridge. The porters will be happy to let you walk around the public areas, and you might find our self-guided tour useful so that you know what you are looking at. NB if there is a 'College Closed' sign at the front gate, please don't be put off as this just means that tourists cannot enter.

If you are visiting Cambridge on your own, you might also enjoy the Following in the Footsteps audio tour.
 

Date posted: 

Friday 15 August 2014

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Animal Farm

Animal Farm book cover

Credit: Juan Pablo Ortiz Arechiga (cropped)

Have you read George Orwell's Animal Farm (first published in England in 1945)? It is just under 100 pages and is widely available in local libraries - why not read the book (or listen to it) without reading anything about it, and see what you make of it. Can you briefly jot down your impressions of what is important in the book? If you are able to get to a local library, you could then do some research about what other people have written on the themes in it.

  • George Orwell, Animal Farm (Penguin, 1996)
     

Date posted: 

Sunday 10 August 2014

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AS / A2 Level Travel Writing Competition (for students in the South of England)

Multilingual sign outside restaurant in Lugano, SwitzerlandSign outside a restaurant in Lugano, Italian-speaking Switzerland. Credit: Eric Andresen

Routes into Languages (South Consortium) are running a travel writing competition for students currently taking AS or A2 Levels in the South of England.

Based on your travel experiences, write a feature article of no more than 500 words in your chosen target language (French, German, Spanish, or Italian). You could win a £50 Amazon voucher for your efforts! The closing date for the competition is 1 September and the winners will announced on the European Day of Languages (26 September).

For more information, please see the competition website.

Date posted: 

Monday 4 August 2014

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'The words on the page': practical criticism

TextClose reading. Credit: Radek Szuban

Practical criticism is a skill required in all three years of the Cambridge English degree. Developed by Cambridge literary critic I. A. Richards in the 1920s, the exercise is designed to make you focus on 'the words on the page.'  You are given an unseen text and asked to respond to its form and meaning.

This year, Cambridge students hit the headlines when they were asked to analyse Morrissey's Autobiography (2013) and Andre Letoit's (Koos Kombuis) 'Tipp-Ex Sonate' (1985) (a poem with no words, only punctuation) in their practical criticism papers.

Why not try your hand at practical criticism yourself? The Faculty of English's Virtual Classroom provides a good starting point:

You can also read I. A. Richards, Practical Criticism (1929).

Date posted: 

Friday 1 August 2014

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Siegfried Sassoon's war diaries published in the Cambridge Digital Library

Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967). Credit: Pere Ubu

The Cambridge University Library holds the papers of its former student and First World War poet Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967). Now, for the first time, Sassoon's journals are freely available online as part of the Cambridge Digital Library.

Amidst the daily minutiae of life in the trenches, Sassoon recorded:

  • the first day of the Somme, 'a sunlit picture of Hell,' on July 1916
  • the Battle of Arras, during which he was 'fully expecting to get killed,' but was instead shot in the shoulder by a sniper, causing a dramatic deterioration in his handwriting from 15 - 16 April 1917
  • draft and fair copies of his 'Soldier's Declaration' against the conduct of the war, written and issued in June-July 1917
  • an early version of his poem 'The Dug-Out,' with an additional, excised verse, written in July 1918 and published in Picture-Show (1919)

The Siegfried Sasoon diaries had previously been edited by Rupert Hart-Davies and published in the 1980s.  So how does seeing the original manuscript versions change our perceptions of Sassoon's life and poetry? Does seeing the mud and candlewax on their pages add to a historian's understanding of Sassoon's experience in the trenches? How useful is either textual criticism (the effort to establish a text as nearly as possible to its original form) or genetic criticism (the effort to trace and understand the process of writing a text) to a literary scholar?

You can read Sassoon's poetry and browse related primary documents in the University of Oxford's First World War Poetry Digital Archive Sassoon Collection.

Date posted: 

Thursday 31 July 2014

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