English Language Day 2010 — Language of place and community

Location Lingo: We and our partner, the Ordnance Survey, embarked on the major exercise of collecting your nicknames for the familiar places around you.

<--break-><--break-><--break->We were awarded grants from Heritage Lottery Fund and Hampshire County Council for a project we called ‘Placing Your Language’. This enabled us to organise 32 different events in 28 different locations in Hampshire organised by over 20 individuals over 8 months and enjoyed by more than 15,000 people.

To get a flavour of what happened do have a look at the materials which appear on our website:

Location Lingo: we and our partners, the Ordnance Survey, embarked on the major exercise of collecting your nicknames for the familiar places around you. (It's not too late to contribute your nicknames - just follow the link from our homepage!). Such names could refer to a bridge, a wood, an ugly building or any item in the landscape - even your entire town. Our database now comprises thousands of names and their associated locations. They tell an important cultural and historical story of how people interact with their surroundings, as well as revealing a lot of ingenuity and humorous wordplay!

The activity met with great interest and the English Project trustees appeared widely on national radio and television describing the value and significance of vernacular geography. The work wasn't without controversy, however; many people reported amusing but derrogatory nicknames for their own towns which were picked up by their local press. The result was some heated debate in the media between council officials, who wished to defend the pleasant nature of their town, and those residents who could see an appropriateness in the nicknames.

Calligraphy at the City Museum: South Hampshire Calligraphers came to demonstrate the skill of their art and to allow others to try their hands too.  Guests included Winchester MP Steve Brine.

Place Names Past, Present and Future: our annual English Language Day lecture was a fascinating account of the origins of English place names with a look at present day trends for naming streets and communities.  It was given by Dr Paul Cavill, Director of the English Place Names Society. Find out about the place names of Hampshire in our SCHOOLS zone.

Theatre Sleuths: do you know the language of the theatre? As part of our 2010 events children were given the opportunity to play language detectives at Winchester's Theatre Royal. They found answers to such questions as: Why is it considered unlucky to whistle in the theatre?  From which ancient language does the verb audire come? The theatre borrows much termionology from which of the armed forces?

Our young contestants also solved puzzles and word-search games and had a great time. The overall winner was Jo Welch with 15 correct answers. Find educational materials in our SCHOOLS zone.

Treasure Hunt: a fiendish treasure hunt was compiled for us by Kevin Ashman, one of TV's renowned Eggheads.  It was a very challenging trail where competitors attempted to identify Hampshire towns.  The winning prize was dinner with Kevin himself!

The Changing Face of Place Names and Toponomy:  two programmes of activities for children were created by Hampshire Archives and Local Studies to allow pupils to explore place names.  These focused on examples from the Beaulieu Estate in Hamphire.  Many schoolchildren enjoyed these exercises as part of English Language Day and the learning resources may be downloaded from our Learning Zone. 

Magic Maps: Children of a wide age-range came together to invent their own mysterious place names and make a magical map to take home with them. They also discovered how real places in Hampshire came to get their names. Magic Maps was run in: Alton, Andover, Basingstoke, Eastleigh, Fareham and Gosport.

100 Places that tell the story of the English Language: a study begun by student Isabel 'Issy' Millett during her short stay with the English Project is to become a prestigious new book to be published in 2013.

The English Language in Hampshire: English Project trustee Professor Chris Mulvey presened a lecture in Winchester's Discovery Centre which traced the English spoken in Hampshire from its historical roots to its present day influences by immigrant communities in London.  Download this and other talks by Chris Mulvey in our RESOURCES zone.

Guided Walks Exploring the Place Names of Hampshire: Tourist guides from Winchester City Guides prepared and led special walks around Alresford, Winchester, Southampton and Gosport, focussing on the weath of local place names and their history. See the WCG's 10 top tips for organising guided walks in our RESOURCES zone.

'University Challenge': the English Project's version of the popular quiz took place between the Universities of Sussex and Winchester. It was a close contest but Sussex just took the honours.