This coursework assignment aims to assess your ability to put into practice the analysis of varieties of English, drawing upon concepts discussed in the lectures and readings.

A common problem last year was that people had not referred back to material discussed in lectures, or indeed readings (e.g. if you see ‘variables’ or ‘variation’ mentioned, check out the lecture(s) where they are discussed). Readings should be consulted if you are not sure about concepts, or want to discover more about or provide support for your intuitions about particular accents or registers. Of course, all sources used must be cited. Having said that, the emphasis in the assignment is on your ability to carry out analysis; listing numerous readings and telling us what is in them will waste words better spent in analyzing the texts and explaining your analyses.

The first part of the assignment, worth 70%, focuses on variation in English writing; the second part, worth 30%, focuses on variation in English speech. Note that this assignment is not a traditional essay: we are interested in your ability to produce accurate analysis and to make sense of it. Don’t write your analysis as an ‘essay’, think in terms of a ‘report’ with section headings (do not assume that sections should be of equal length: for some areas of analysis there is more to say than others). Where appropriate, tables and bullet-points are welcomed. Giving linguistic features (with illustrative examples) and their frequencies in a table, and then writing a description of the patterns displayed in that table should work well. Given the focus on analysis, you must display your analysis. If you say, for example, that there are five imperative verbs in a passage, you must indicate which words you think they are. You could list them, or copy the text and use underlining, circling, bracketing, highlighting, etc. to indicate what is what.

Part I (worth 70%)

Explore the two texts below. Apply what you have learnt on the course in the linguistic analysis of these texts. Having arrived at a description of a particular linguistic feature, don’t forget to explain how it contributes to the register of which that text is a part (i.e. how it helps create that text’s ‘style’). For example, you should demonstrate, amongst other things, that you can accurately identify noun phrases, describe their structure, and relate them to external variables that are shaping each text. Note both linguistic similarities and contrasts between the texts. Drawing attention to differences in the frequencies of particular linguistic items would be a good idea. Note: for ease of comparison of frequencies, the texts are the same length.

The following are possible areas for attention (numbers in square brackets indicate the maximum number of marks that a particular area can achieve):

• Consider the vocabulary of the passages. [15]
• Consider the verbs and verb phrases in the passages. Give examples from each passage which you think are typical of that register and/or interesting. You could consider, for example, tense, aspect, voice (i.e. active vs. passive), and mood. [15]
• Consider the nouns and noun phrases in both passages. (Give examples from each passage which you think are typical and/or interesting. You should also consider the structure of the noun phrase). [15]
• Do the passages always have a straightforward SVO order of elements for each sentence? (Give examples where this is not the case and label the order they do have, and also explain why they do not have the SVO order). [15]
• The above list of areas does not quite cover all areas of contrast. Pick out two different areas of language where the passages contrast, but which have not been covered in the points above. (Give examples from each passage which you think are typical of that register and/or interesting). [10]

Warnings: (1) don’t spend too long writing about vocabulary, whilst ignoring more challenging areas; (2) regarding picking examples, the more systematic you are in identifying all the examples of a particular linguistic feature constituting the text’s register or style, the more credit we can give you (for example, all students could pick out a single noun phrase; the challenge is to pick out a bunch of noun phrases that form a particular pattern, giving the register its particular flavour). Note: our marking scheme gives roughly equal weight to each of the areas indicated by the bullet-points above, except for the last one.

Both texts below have been lightly edited so that they have exactly the same number of words (and some aspects irrelevant to this assignment have been removed).


Text A [From a document about insurance contracts published by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the related body, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). ]

This Exposure Draft has been developed to improve the transparency of the effects of insurance contracts on an entity’s financial position and financial performance and to reduce diversity in the accounting for insurance contracts. The proposals in this Exposure Draft would supersede IFRS Insurance Contracts.

IFRS has no comprehensive Standard that deals with the accounting for insurance contracts. IFRS, published in 2004, is an interim Standard that permits a wide range of practices and includes a ‘temporary exemption’, which explicitly states that an entity does not need to ensure that its accounting policies are relevant to the economic decision-making needs of users of financial statements, or that those accounting policies are reliable. This means that companies account for insurance contracts using different accounting models that evolved in each jurisdiction according to the products and regulations prevalent in that jurisdiction. As a result, there are substantial differences in the accounting policies used by different companies to account for insurance contracts. Accordingly, the IASB is committed to issuing a Standard on insurance contracts expeditiously, and expects to finalise a Standard for insurance contracts after reviewing the responses to this Exposure Draft.

Text B [Electronic message on the website of a one-person retailer of vegetables to his customers]

Hi, I have noticed that although hundreds of people have taken up the 35% Discount offer on the tomatoes, barely a dozen have used it for the veg.

So I’m wondering if my previous statement was having an effect on this. Just to be perfectly clear, I’m not selling the business or passing it on. I will be very much still in charge and it will be me you’re still dealing with (not sure if that’s a good thing or bad, but I try my best always) 🙂

The website and everything to do with you is still being run my end. All I have done is found someone who has the space and the capacity to do the job better than I currently can, because I don’t have enough greenhouse space to do the veg and the tomatoes.

From your point of view, it will mean the plants will be ready and go out on time, subject to the variables that growing plants chuck at you.

So please don’t be worried about this development, and make use of this generous discount of 35% off. It’s for your benefit.


Part I should be completed in a maximum of 2,000 words, not including examples or tables.