Conveying English to the English-Speaking Audience


While most individuals whom I discuss my research with are outside the fields of English Literature and Linguistics, they all speak English. For ease of surface-level communication, this is, naturally, beneficial. However, this lack of a language barrier can actually make it more difficult to convey the significance of my work.

Imagine this: in American high school almost all students are required to learn a second language – if only to a minor degree – and are almost always exposed to plays of Shakespeare in their English Language Arts classes. Of these, the significance of one is questioned more often than the other. Most students and parents understand the benefits of learning another language, but they view Shakespeare (or even Chaucer in higher-level classes) as obsolete in modern study. Perhaps this is because, for the average native speaker, the evolution and developing traits of language are not a common thought. It is something that exists subconsciously as a part of their lives. Thus, the most prominent obstacle in communicating the significance of my research is not avoiding jargon and convoluted terms, but rather it is helping my audience reframe their understanding of English as static towards one that incorporates changes over time in tradition and expression.

Piers Plowman manuscript page

If I am able to accomplish this, and my audience understands that how English has been used has changed from generation to generation, I find that the only other step is to explain what this means for us at a general level. There is no need for me to explain the nuances behind why I chose the sources and authors I did, no need to explain what the Exeter Book or Piers Plowman is, and no need to delve into all specific traits of verse I examined; I must only convey that I am tracking the changes in how we express ourselves, specifically seeing how we draw from our own literary history.

When it comes to interacting with professional audiences outside of this field, there are several which may connect tangentially to my research. Of these, I plan on pursuing higher education in several. For example, while my project is largely engaged in the field of English, an inherent argument made by my work is that our modern literary tradition incorporates characteristics that originate outside of the Classical tradition. Therefore, my research requires an understanding of the Classical literary tradition as well as the Anglo-Saxon style. Classical Languages is one of my undergraduate majors, and I hope to pursue a career in education in this area. Beyond this, most organizations and national scholarships do not specialize in my areas of focus. Thus, an important skill I have had to develop is how to relate my work to broader interests. Connecting my work to modern social dynamics, international relations, and the understanding of English cultural identity is how I can interact with these groups and individuals in the future to progress my education and career goals.

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