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photograph VIVIAN COOK, Professor of Applied Linguistics, Newcastle University

Words Matter

Date: 13th May 2010

Time: 17:30 - 18:30

Venue: Curtis Auditorium, Herschel Building (opposite Haymarket Metro)


Words are involved in everything we do. We know tens of thousands of them and can call them up for use in a split second. They show our history, going back to the Anglo-Saxons and beyond. We have imported them from every corner of the globe. They are crucial to our children’s language development and exam results. They are used by politicians and advertisers to influence us with their visions and missions. We have built them out of people’s names like boycott and tortured them mercilessly like absobloominglutely. We use them to think and often get them wrong - par cark. Our life is words and words are our life.

Vivian Cook is a Professor of Applied Linguistics who teaches and supervises postgraduates mostly from overseas in various aspects of English language teaching and second language learning. His main interests are how people learn second languages and how writing works in different languages. He is a co-editor of the new journal Writing System Research and founder of the European Second Language Association. He has written books on the learning and teaching of English, on Chomsky and on writing systems, including popular books on English spelling and vocabulary; he has given talks in countries ranging from Chile to Japan, Canada to Iran and Cuba to Norway. His current book project is on Bilingual Cognition – how people think who use two languages.