Need an idea for your B.A. essay?
Here are some ideas for you to work on – ideas which I would
be willing to supervise as BA essays. Other ideas are welcome!
These ideas mostly entail analysis of spoken or written texts
in literature or in the media. They are mostly extensions of class
exercises I have set in my courses. Students should be prepared to record and
analyse the texts, if necessary with the use of tools we have learnt in class.
This list is not in any particular order. I shall add to it
whenever I have time and inspiration.
Note: in all but the first of the following proposals, it will
sometimes be possible to substitute another language for “Icelandic”, as long as
I can find a co-supervisor with competence in the other language!
- “Icelandic” English. What are the salient features
of the English used in speech OR writing in Iceland? An analysis of written
or spoken texts.
- Since this is an enormous subject, it will be
necessary to limit it a small group of features, for example voicing of
various types of consonants, preaspiration, vowel-length, use of weak
vowels, level of spelling pronunciation, level of vocabulary, sentence
- Also interesting here would be a comparison of modern
and dated Icelandic English, or a comparison between age-groups (older
vs. younger politicians, businessmen, academics, civil servants, or
people of school age.)
- Deaccenting. A comparison of levels of deaccenting
in comparable media broadcasts in Icelandic and English. It would be
advisable to choose audio material with a high degree of repetition, to
elicit deaccenting: for example weather forecasts and sports results. News
reports could also be included.
- Coordination and subordination. A comparison of
the levels of coordination and subordination in comparable written texts /
spoken texts in English and Icelandic. The texts would have to be analysed
into their clausal elements, to discover the degree of coordination or
subordination involved. A typical example of comparable texts would be news
reports from written and spoken sources. The survey would also discuss any
difference in Icelandic between originally composed news items and news
items which might be translated from English.
- Linguistic differences
in translated and original Icelandic news reports
This survey would entail locating and transcribing the sources of foreign
news reporting in Icelandic, and noting what effect if any they may have on
the translation. A comparison would be made with reports that are clearly
originally composed, for example domestic reports. The analysis would
include lexical and syntactical features, and perhaps others.
- Fequency of loanwords. Different texts analysed
for the origins and dates of origin of their loanwords. Different genres or
types of text would be chosen, as well as texts from various times. The
difference between spoken and written texts might be analysed. The survey
would report on what types of words appear as loanwords, based on semantic
and/or syntactic criterial (meaning of the words, parts of speech, etc.).
Again, a comparison between Icelandic and English would be interesting.
- “Bad Grammar” in spoken Icelandic and English.
This would entail an analysis of speech taken from the media, to discover
the level of incomplete or fragmentary grammar, unfinished sentences, false
starts, and grammatical patterns which do not follow prescriptive rules of
grammar. Different levels of emotional involvement might be studied: do
people use “worse” language when under stress?
- “Intrusive r”. Texts from different varieties and
styles of English analysed to discover the level of occurrence of linking-r
and “intrusive”-r. This might also include a search for intrusive-r in
rhotic speech. It would be sensible to hunt for audio/video examples with
high incidences of names such as China and America which might attract
- Now let your imagination range, and contact me …