Language (dis)ability and representation in popular culture

Tiny Tim from the Charles Dickens novel ‘ A Christmas Carol’ displays an example of a trope of the savant. At first glance he may appear vulnerable and perhaps a drain on the Cratchit family, however after meeting him you realise he obtains the gifts of being pure and kind.

This is a positive representation of disability. Throughout the novel, even when Mr Scrooge is being dire to Bob and his family, Tiny Tim remains positive and optimistic; he blesses and prays for Scrooge even when his own mother despises the idea. Social norms teach us that parents are mature, more so than their children and overlook certain behaviour to be good role models to their children but here Tim displays the maturity, much so beyond his age. Even his older siblings disregard Scrooge by simply remaining ignorant to the matter.

Not only does Tim’s actions make people with disabilities feel proud, they also make people who don’t have disabilities think about their actions. It is so easy in life to disregard morals, especially forgiveness because someone has hurt us, however Tim teaches us to have more passion and be more willing to forgive. Holding a grudge only hurts the person who holds it, through forgiving and forgetting their wrong-doing, you are able to be set free of all those emotions. This is a difficult quality to practice, especially involving family because no love can match the love for your family but even at Tim’s young age he is able to forgive.

Contrasted to the character Scrooge; an old, bitter, mean, ruthless and unloving man, this only makes our fondness for Tim grow. The fact Scrooge has been successful in work and had the choice to be successful in love shows that no matter the material items you have, you won’t necessarily be happy. Look at Tim’s contrast to Scrooge: One of six children; Scrooge has none, barely able to feed himself; Scrooge has plenty, surplus even, Tim has a life threatening disability; Scrooge is in good health… the list is endless. It shows how having love and choosing this over material items is the only way you’ll be happy. I accept having material items can numb being unhappy but this is simply a short term fix. The real task in life is placing love above material items, however people feel this is difficult to do because they may be gambling everything, whereas staying in the confines of material items ensures that they won’t be hurt. I believe this allows me to then go on and also suggest that it is because Tim has nothing to lose. He is aware his disability and until Scrooge has a change of heart, he will die. This perhaps makes him want to do more good and able to forgive.

I don’t want to seem patronising suggesting it is unheard of someone with a disability being a saviour because I’m not implying that. I’m simply saying that Tim, who has a life threatening disability and would be justified to hate the world and focus solely on himself, not only is positive but puts other people’s happiness before his own, people undeserving of happiness and goes as far to forgive them and even bless them when they have done nothing but ruin his family.

image, music and text

Below is the single cover for Snow Patrol’s ‘You could be Happy’. We denote a lady walking through town, however the fact this cover is so simple, breeds many connotations. Primarily the woman acts as the connotator.  Juxtaposed  with  song title you  assume  it  is  an  ex  lover  watching  on  the  girl  he  loves  hoping  she’s  found  happiness.  Focusing  on  her  pose,  she’s  oblivious  to  any passers-by,  simply  going  about  her  life,  which  could  suggest  innocence.  The  reason  she’s  alone  or  the  emotion  she’s  feeling  is  unknown,  which remains  an ambiguous  answer  to  whether  she  is  happy.  She  is  making  no  eye  contact  which  suggests  the  cover  is  giving  information.  The  tone  of  black  and  white  have  connotations  of  bleak,  or  may symbolise  memory.  Overall,  the  simplicity  of  this  cover  creates  its  salience.  ‘You  could  be  happy’ suggests there’s  no  knowing  of  whether  they  are  and  also  implies  he  prioritises  her  happiness  as  much  of  letting  go  may  hurt  him.  This  cover  shows  every  aspect.  It  foregrounds  a  woman  we  don’t  know  is  happy,  which  the  song  will  clarify  and  almost  invites  us  in  because  we  empathise  with  him.  We  can  clearly  see  he  still  loves  her  and  thinks  about  her;  the  dark  circle  could  portray  a  lens  almost  into  her  life  and  so  we’ll  want to  listen.

Language ideologies


Nick Dixon

There was a similar uproar when texting patois took over mobile communications, mostly by the young but as they grew up and communicated with human beings they learned to up their game because they had to. Nothing to see here.

Brian Brasford

@Nick Dixon

There is the more serious problem of most young people’s total addiction to mobile phones. They will use them to communicate when they are sat next to each other, every day I see dozens of them walking along glued to their phones. It has become a way of life for them. In a cafe the other day I witness a young family of 4 sat there and they were all using them at the same time.


Peter Day

Social media in itself, has ruined much of the normal human intercourse with our neighbours. One great failure of the network that convey these messages and the ones that rely on it most are struck dumb. I am of an earlier vintage and I left facebook a year ago, so few privileges of connection with it will disrupt me.

Emily Curryer (my comment)  

@Peter Day

Is social media really solely to blame for the ‘normal human intercourse with our neighbours’? I don’t think so, in fact I believe you’re being deaf to the fact  everyone has a choice whether to use social media; people decide it at their own free will. I will agree emoji has disrupted the English language, however I don’t think it’s fair to say it is mostly the young who use it. My dad is 54 and he uses more emojis than I do. In fact sometimes I have to question him what he means. He’s in his middle age, therefore being of an ‘earlier vintage’ does not applaud you or make you heroic for deleting facebook, it is not a difficult task. What’s more, my dad has a very prestigious job, landing him nearly three figures a year so forgive me if I don’t agree that mot people who convey these messages are ‘struck dumb’, it is most likely your ignorance that makes you think in this stereotypical way.

Analysis of comment

Being patriarchal I think, we have all adopted an ideology of protection for the English language. A sociolinguist may suggest language innovation comes from personal relationships with one another, that it is not solely media’s doing, it simply acts as a mirror. This is what I believe.

Being a part of the world and coming into contact with other people is only natural and we use communication as a tool. People may use media  which I do agree, if we continually come into contact with people using more ‘degrading’ language then yes, our language will decline too. For example, the very fact my dad has an up-to-date smart phone built with emoji language forces him to use it. In addition because people use it to build relationships with one another, for example, I’d message my dad a love heart or a smiley face to express how I feel.

I’d also suggest it isn’t ‘dumb’ people conveying these messages but in fact it is people who choose to use it. Media is very good at creating fear where there doesn’t need to be; it takes a discussion, whether language is deteriorating, suggests some applaudable reasons why, then uses this discourse and peoples own ideologies to make people believe we won’t be able to communicate if it keeps deteriorating.

Avoiding media as I suggested, doesn’t make you avoidable to language change. Deleting apps or not watching certain programmes doesn’t mean you will be more literate. In fact studies show that real life language can massively effect a way a child will grow up. For example, if we swear more around children, they are more likely to become aggressive. This is the same with emoji; if we constantly use ‘slang’ we are more likely to use it in situation we should not.


Language, identity and social media

Below is my Facebook profile picture and the ‘About me’ page transferred into text.

I researched into some women stereotypical attributes and discovered we are meant to be quiet and look pretty. We’re meant to be submissive to men and be there for their pleasure. As much as I would like to scream into the faces of people who wrote such attributes, my profile picture would make me hypocritical.

Although through strange directly at my audience I am creating a demanding look, I am still very much aware I chose that particular pose to look pretty. This supports Goffman’s theory of Front stage. He suggests we create a biography or life tale almost through the pictures we post. We are allowed to conjure up this fairytale ‘life’ of ours and our identities when perhaps behind clothes doors we actually are our true selves but we do it because we have an audience and subconsciously we feel we have to deliver.

Although my profile picture may not account for my whole lifestyle, it shows I have posted it for some sort of attention, again feeding into the female stereotypes.

Another stereotypical attribute of women it emphasises is their insecurities or being emotional.

In my generation it is understood that posting ‘selfies’ may not be because you are confident but in fact because you are insecure in yourself and feel you need likes or comments to feel validated. The likes and comments women most desire are those from men, again supporting the stereotypical view that women are to please men and women need men.

Focusing specifically on the position of my pose, I have earrings in, to hope add to my prettiness, hair back showing my new highlights and more impotently I am wearing makeup. This is very stereotypical of a woman. I am doing this in order to gain attention, preferably male but female also and I am also doing it in order to feel better about myself; raise my self-esteem.

I think women saving face is another quality they feel obliged to maintain. Men aren’t seen to save face or be polite etc because it is coded into them through their stereotypes to be competitive. I am hoping by validating myself that I will feel better about myself and  so be able to remain the stereotype of saving face.

Assessing About me now, I have written factual information about myself. I have written little because I understand the implications of privacy and being safe online, however the information I have included signifies where I live; I want people to know this as they may know me, where I work; Jack Wills is quite a significant retail shop and I feel proud working there and finally where I went to school, again inviting people to ‘add me as a friend’. This is evidence of Barton and Lee’s view (2013) of a techno biography. I am creating and constantly updating my own biography to create an image of myself and what I want people to see. This refers to the female stereotype of saving face.

About me

Works in Jack Wills, went to Willingdon Community School, Lives in Eastbourne, East Sussex

Discourse and ideology

Masculinity in the 21st Century  

I was curious to see what ‘masculinity’ had been defined as;

‘handsome’, ‘muscled’ and ‘driven’

These were the terms delivered to me.

When I think of masculinity I practically picture the same words, perhaps even being tough and not to show emotions. This is what’s created the crisis of masculinity in the 21st century.

The Guardian suggests social change has lead to historical patriarchal constructions being abandoned and I agree. The evolution in generations has seen more and more women becoming breadwinners of families which simply demoralises men, but that’s not to discourage women. In fact some have said to have felt a ‘low sense of masculinity’. It’s not thatI don’t applaud the change in views of women, I completely do, but we are not accounting for the changes in men and this is worrying.

Statistics show suicide is the biggest killer for men under 50 in the UK. This is shocking. Other statistics say the only activity keeping men partially ‘masculine’ is football.

Football breeds all sorts of connotations; loyalty, patriarchy, love, dedication, strength, laddish behaviour, strength etc and these are the attributes that keep them feeling their masculinity.

I however believe it’s the lack of regard we give men. Women becoming more successful may tarnish their masculinity, however I feel it’s the big, made up wives tale that men have no feelings. Yes, they may seem better at controlling it but they’re only human aren’t they? Ultimately I think more help needs to be given to men who are partaking in this crisis and we can start with the Men’s voices Project.


Discourse is making men and women gain awareness of a masculinity crisis. It’s making them think even about their own lives and whether their husbands or sons may be going through the same struggle. The fact this is even a discussion will subconsciously make reader’s think closely to their lives because fear is actually quite motivating in terms of actions; we want to protect the ones we love.  This is supported by peoples ideologies being breached. For many generations, men have always been valued as better, or stronger. There is an idea they are more emotionally stable and the belief that they are the more important sex what with being the main breadwinner in the past. This piece is implying men potentially aren’t those qualities anymore and in fact they need help to feel their masculinity. Although this is evident in real life with the change in women’s roles, it actually being highlighted implies an issue; if someone picks up on it then it is actually happening, again initiating the fear, which media is a tool for. This will surprise men and women because it goes against the norm of what we have believed, which will enhance the discourse and allow power to be given to it by making people want to do something about it; creating more awareness. Interpellation is being addressed here as it’s making men look at themselves and accept it’s okay not to be okay. They may deep down have been struggling the same way as it suggests some men have in the post. It’s making society realise the extent of the crisis and put different forms of help in place to address the issue.


Language of advertising








This is the advertisement I have created for an 80’s themed night at The Haunt. As you can see  have included intertextuality. By phrasing ‘get footloose’ not only am I playing on the renown term ‘loosen up’; to have  fun and be free but I’m also referring to the film ‘Footloose’ which was made in the 80’s. This in supported by the image taken from the film. In addition, I have used an ontological metaphor, being the noun ‘moonwalk’. This was a dance created in the 80’s which I have used to imply the going back in time by attending the dance because it is that decade. It is simply. dance move and not a real verb, therefore it gives people an attribute that is non-existent for the purpose of the decade it’s been made in.

I have used the reversal signs also to refer to going back in time. This engages ‘moonwalk’ again but also symbolises reliving the decade. I have used the term ‘top’ another dance move as an ontological metaphor again, re-establishing the decade theme.

Considering ideologies, people assume the 80’s to be exciting and fun; a time of change. Michael Jackson is labelled ‘the king of pop’, pragmatically people know he invented the moonwalk and so would think the 80’s to be a time of partying.

Semiotics, language and popular culture

My attention is immediately drawn to Kiera Knightley herself. The pose is suggesting quite a seductive and sexual appearance. Matched by her stare directly to the reader, this creates a ‘wanting’ atmosphere, for example women will want to continue reading because they want to look like her, feel like her and ultimately give off the same effect. This is enhanced by the images in the background, especially the woman biting a mans lip. This appears highly seductive and the woman having her hair draped back suggests she ins more sophisticated; it would be unexpected. The colours are very feminine and not too exaggerated which creates a more subtle, perhaps a secrecy vibe, implying it may be more sophisticated women again, wanting to, for once, not stick to the rules or connotations of being sophisticated; become seductive.

Assessing verbal signs, there are different titles spaced around the magazine cover which makes you read one-by-one. Both ‘shopping diaries’ and ‘beach bling’ imply clothing, what’s more they are both short and catchy, especially the alliteration in ‘beach bling’. As women notoriously love to shop, these titles will encourage them to read on, especially after looking at Keira Knightley, wanting to appear as seductive as her.

The fact the top part of Keiras body was selected suggests the women that read vogue are generally less revealing. However, as her bust is shown bare this persuades them to be more daring and sexy; going against the norm of being sophisticated.

I think because Keira is the first thing that attracts me, this is central, therefore it attracts our attention to all the titles around her. The big necklace may enhance the title ‘beach bling’ because it is evidence of jewellery. In addition, ‘summer in the city survival kit’ is placed directly next to Keiras shirt she’s wearing which implies it’s going to be talking about clothing. In addition ‘survival kit’ insists it’s a necessity but also suggests it’s out of the ordinary; sophistication becoming seductive.

Referring to textual codes, Keiras face is renown for being a sexual pout; it is used to gain attention; she wants to be recognised. The way she is thrusting her body forward is another renown textual code of being wanted sexually or attracting attention. The fact this is a ladies magazine implies they want to be able to give off the same effect and because Keira Knightly is textually a renown public figure, they will want to be like her.

In addition, the magazine’s langue here is its title ‘Vogue’, It has connotations and holds a range of different things; the latest celebrity, latest celebrity look, fashion people should be wearing and also the classiness ‘Vogue’ denotes. We know it is expensive and a high end fashion magazine. This partnered with ‘shopping diaries’ and ‘summer in the city survival kit’ make readers want to read on and see what the big deal is about.

There are social codes which are constructed through role models and simply societies interpretation of manners. Keira Knightley breaks social codes here. She is meant to be ‘reserved’ and ‘polite’, not showing any skin; stereotypes of women, however her she is breaking them all. This is what interests women to want to read the magazine because they will also feel this sense of power and think that if they look and dress how Keira does, they will have it and feel free.


At 15.00, London witnessed one of its most tragic incidents. Records show five fatalities and fifteen civilians critically injured. It is currently unknown whether the fire started accidentally or if in fact it was arson.

A witness, Cheryl Brooker, 54, who was in her flat just across from the scene suggested she ‘didn’t see any groups or odd behaviour from passers by’ but simply heard an explosion and immediately called 999.

Families and friends offer their sympathies at they lay boquets of flowers and cards for the deceased at the scene.

Yet another devastating episode in London. When will the people know peace?


I have chosen to use more factual language in my news story; it is more reflectional. News stories are meant to release facts to their audience. In this scenario I am informing local Londoners of the incident their city has just witnessed, for example I suggest when and where and the amount of casualties recorded. However, some of the language is also quite expressive because I have been asked to write about the photo, therefore some of the terminology I use needs to be spontaneous and persuasive so the general public will believe me.