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Off the Shelf
17-27 September 2020

What Did You Say?

  • Game
  • Hope

Do the things we say reveal who we are?

Are some people better than others at matching words to viewpoints?

This 5 minute game showcases the incredible flexibility of language, and the clever ways in which our speech sends messages about who we are and what we believe. The game will also gently probe your prejudices by asking you to evaluate examples of real language use.

Prejudices are inevitable but become damaging when they stay hidden. Believing that certain dialects are ‘better’ than others can have real life consequences for those who speak in a negatively stereotyped way.

During the game, you will click on one of three pictures which you think best characterises where an utterance was spoken. This should make you think about the kind of person who most likely uttered it.  So, for a sentence like “There ain’t going to be no second chances”, you might see a picture of a TV news studio, a night club, and a classroom. Can you get it right?

Getting an answer right scores a point, and you can see your total score at the end of the game, along with how the people next to you do. There’s full feedback and a chance to explore why an utterance was used and why it provokes stereotypes. 

The project is collaboration between Dr. Emma Moore, and Sheffield agency Joi Polloi, as Emma describes:

I spend hours thinking about the ways that people use language to mark social relationships and express points of view. I’ve spent years developing complex theories about the relationship between perceptions of people and the dialects they use. It’s hard to distil these ideas into key points of interest. Working with Joi Polloi required me to sift through the theory and think about what aspects of my research relate to people’s everyday experience of language use. Not only did Joi Polloi ask the right questions to get me to do this, they also knew what worked as a creative expression of the relevant ideas. 

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