Sociolinguistics in Practice: Oxford Talk, Part Three

Anthony Burgess’ “A Clockwork Orange” (1962), with its intuitive vocabulary, has inspired me to document my linguistic environments. I will write about a different environment each week without explaining any vocabulary used. My hope is that readers will gradually learn what these words mean as they read on and notice if I insert a word that does not belong. Through this, I will explore belonging: does knowing the words of an environment help increase belonging, even if one has never been in the environment themselves? 

Home soon yes please oh wait actually no I want to stay I want to stay I want to stay! But what if I have no luggage room anxiously pack two weeks early and wait. Wait. A sad mimicry of Thanksgiving and pie and alone. Oxmas but no formal or bop. Another lockdown from Boris the man who did not act soon enough. London twice alone. I miss it already I miss them already I miss the Thames already I miss the Rad Cam already I miss Hassan’s already I miss Simpkins already. Tutorials are so much work but I love them and I want to make Sally and Tessa proud and earn that tea and my time here. Because should I not have learned a lot here? Hmm … at least I had fun I mean I was chuffed to have met them and learned this and done all that. But I want to screaaaaammmm because I want break too and I want a break from this work and it’s too much I just want Modern Family, The Crown, the random movies because British Netflix doesn’t have my favoUrites. Whoa what why did I use that spelling in my thoughts oh no have I lost my accent and my spelling? Listen back to eighty-three days of recordings of my voice to check. Oh yeah it’s fine. Nothing to worry about. I say cutlery and takeaway like I’ve said but I wouldn’t say you’re alright or hiya or … but I will say how much I will miss it. A lot. I still now don’t understand how much I miss it or how much it’s meant to me or how much it’s changed me. I know what I miss and I yearn for return but when? The principal says we can come back after Trinity term in the summer when the unprecedented times are over. A meal in Hall in College, not the Grad Centre or Marquee. A lot like our farewell with mincemeat pies and mulled wine and friends and reflection. But I never got a true formal supper (and that’s all me, shining through). Not a three-course meal in a mini-Harry Potter Great Hall packed full with British and International students (matriculated and from the visiting programME), out of households and accommodations. If it had happened it would have been different anyways. I am not sure what more to say. I haven’t fully processed it all yet, and very few understand what this experience was like anyways. Anyways, I’m home now and still mentally here and there and yearn for everywhere but still here too. I suppose it will all be in my head, my memories of the good and the bad and the quirks and the moments with the unfamiliar pound and pence where I give it to the cashier and have them count for me because it would be faster. And butter, crisp, rocket, ham sandwich in quarantine room watching the Thames and the no masks and the rowers and the birds and a show; and reading Darth Bane in the quad watching the scary pigeons and watching summer leave. And having to sign everywhere and greetings and names for food and words like hoover and peng and Tories vs Labour and Pret and social expectations and rules of the road and beans and marks and tutes and with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic no one knows much more than what they knew before. I learned some for some things and a lot for others and I’m proud I was there and did it and came back safe and wow. I got to meet so many amazing people I don’t think I’ll ever forget and I’m sad that I’m not there in that life-changing place. Extended Michaelmas 2020 was enough to some extent but I could have been there for three years if I forgot homesickness. There’s more to be said of course but I will return again at another time, ready to explore the dreaming spires once more. 

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