English language exhibition at the British Library

In Museums on March 5, 2010 at 3:25 pm

At the moment I’m writing up a really interesting piece of work for the British Library.

They’re opening an exhibition in November about the English language. It looks like it’s going to be another success story for the BL, who have really raised their game in terms of temporary exhibitions in the Paccar gallery in recent years. Henry VIII was a triumph and there are just a few days left of Points of View, the current exhibition about the birth of photography.

This new exhibition is presently in concept design stage and I’ve been working for them, as a consultant, on finding out whether the public ‘get’ the prospect of the exhibition or not. So I recruited and chaired some focus groups – which we held earlier this week – and asked members of the public for their opinions on the proposals as they stand at the moment. And it turns out that they really like them.

It’s going to be a great show, with lots of thought having gone into representing the English language in all its forms – spoken, written, recorded etc. English is a truly¬†international lanauage so it’s got appeal for people all round the globe, and indeed for international audiences right here in London. It’s also a changing language with a long and interesting history and the exhibition will explore this, as it continues to change.

Perhaps the most exciting part will be the areas looking at accents and dialects. I won’t give anything away now, but expect to have fun in this exhibition, and to learn loads of those great facts for dropping into dinner party conversation.

Did you know 95% of all communication in English does not fit into the ‘standards’ that we have set ourselves for how the language should be written or spoken? Great stuff.


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