Many past high-scoring graduates of VCE English Language have stated to me that what allowed them to attain high scores in the essay section was… the use of modern media examples! Yes, modern media examples. I genuinely believe many students are aware of this, but I also believe that many students don’t know where to look or even how to look. My aim is to demystify this dilemma today (well, hopefully!).
Modern examples + Linguist quotes = Great essay!
Pay attention to the equation above. This is what will at least allow you to build a solid foundation in your essay, which in turn will allow you to attain a high score. Of course, there are other factors too such as your expression, structure and grammar, but we’ll save that for another time. Today, we’ll focus mostly on modern examples and linguist quotes.
Finding modern examples is not too hard, but how on earth do I find modern linguist quotes?
Good question! Finding modern linguist quotes can be very difficult if you don’t know where to look or WHO to look for. Generally speaking, you will not get penalised for using old linguist quotes, AS LONG AS these linguist quotes are backed up by modern examples in the media/world. However, if you do happen to find new linguist quotes, then this will be viewed favourably.
When searching for examples across the web, it’s always a good idea to have a sound knowledge of the metalanguage and understand it through and through. You should also not only understand it but also know how to IDENTIFY it in texts.
So, without further ado, let’s look at the various places you can find modern examples. Please also see the screenshots to understand how I find these examples too.
This is always my first choice. Why do the hard work when Google has already done it for you? Google News acts as a consolidator of information from credible news sites. The easiest way to search for a modern article is to go to Google News and type in key metalinguistic terms, followed by relevant pre-modifiers. For example, you might type in ‘Australian slang’ or ‘euphemism’. See an example below:
Yes, many of us don’t even read newspapers anymore, BUT they are often full of gold. In particular, when reading either the Herald Sun or the Age, pay close attention to the comments section. Oftentimes, members of the public will complain about archaic or obfuscatory (confusing) language.
In addition, you’ll probably notice many examples of Australianisms in many journo’s articles (see what I did there?). See some examples below that I found when reading the newspaper:
Another way of finding great examples is through a simple Google search. But this time, we will ‘refine’ our search. A good way of refinement can be conducted by clicking on ‘Search tools’ -> ‘Country: Australia’ -> ‘Past Month’. This will ensure your examples are from Australia (if you’d like them to be) and will be modern!
See an example below:
On the street (literally)
It’s amazing how often you can spot something when you’re either driving (or being driven) or just simply walking with friends. I had this moment in October 2015, when I was driving to a tutoring lesson and I happened to come across a big sign on the road reading:
“Road safety cameras save lives!”
Notice something interesting there? You’ll notice that ‘road safety camera’ is a euphemism for ‘speed camera’. By appealing to the security side of human beings, the government can effectively persuade you to accept their existence. This is also known as rhetoric.
Similar to ‘on the street’, picking up on certain linguistic choices can incredibly beneficial to you. When you’re with your friends, you may pick up on new slang terms such as ‘netflix and chill’. In fact, I heard this term from my term and unbeknownst to him, I had no clue what this term meant!
Earlier in 2015, I picked up the brand name ‘Uber’ being used as a verb by my friends. For example, they may say “I just ubered here”. Again, this is all comes back to linguistic awareness.
A special thanks to Tim Lilley for this one! You can find all the articles pertaining to ‘language’ written by the Guardian here: http://www.theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language
So there you have it! I hope this helps you immensely with your studies in 2016 and also helps you with finding great media examples!
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