The apple of my eye…



“This is Allah’s gift” these were the first words the doctor uttered to me in her Dubai surgery. She was wearing a big smile on her face and showing me the sac in the scan. Yes I was pregnant and what made this all the more special was that I received this news on Mother’s day- 11 May, 2014- according to Turkey’s calender. After such a long and exciting journey our prince Mehmet Osman (and first child) was born in January, 2015, in London (same city and borough I was born in). He is already 3 months now and still it has not hit me that I am a mum; despite those sleepless nights. It’s the most challenging, yet rewarding experience in my life. He truly is the apple of our eye and so much wish we had met him long ago. We love him to bits. Raising a child is, I know, no easy task. By default I want him to stand on his own feet and be well educated, but what I want most is for him is to be loving, caring, and merciful to all creations of Allah; that includes humans and animals.  I don’t want him to ever hurt anyone’s feelings and always live with dignity. There’s so much more I want for him and all children…all the very best…

So yes he is indeed Allah’s most beautiful gift and am cherishing every moment with him and feeding him with my endless love.

As a linguist, raising a child is all the more exciting, as I work closely in the areas of child language development and multilingualism. My son has started to giggle and babble but I can’t wait to hear his first syllables and words. Research has shown that children develop their perceptual skills in their mum’s womb and hence perception precedes production. This is why I try to speak in both English and Turkish and vary my intonation when speaking to him. I am an advocate of Cummins’ Linguistic Interdependence Hypothesis, which in principle holds that first language attainment is a prerequisite for second language attainment. One can think of this as the iceberg analogy (Cummin’s Iceberg theory); you can not feed or understand the surface level by neglecting the underlying level. Only with this accomplishment can one navigate between different languages or cultures. So I am hoping my child will be raised as a bilingual, biliterate, bicultural, bipalatal (something I coined) child, and and and very importantly I also hope he will be biscriptal. I am not biscriptal as I can only read and write in the latin/Roman alphabet (e.g. English, Turkish and German). There seems to be this rooted misconception, however, that the Turkish language uses the Arabic script, but in fact it uses the Roman script. During the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Turkish used the Arabic alphabet, with Persian additions. However, in 1928, following the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of Republic of Turkey, the “new language” reform introduced by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk replaced the Arabic alphabet with the Latin one and many Persian and Arabic origin loanwords in the language were replaced with their Turkish equivalents. To keep a long story short, I would like my child to also learn different scripts, let it be Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, etc. All of this, of course, needs to be accomplished before the critical age.

Having said all this, I guess this also explains why I haven’t been on this site for some time. I will try to update you all whenever time permits. In particular, I will report on my son’s language development. If you are interested in collecting naturalistic and longitudinal data your child could be your best resource. Prominent examples of such case studies in child phonology include Smith’s (1973) child Amahl, and Gnanadesikan’s (2004) child Gitanjali. These studies have provided invaluable data which has enhanced our understanding in the area of phonological development. I hope Mehmet Osman will also be a useful resource for those working in child language development in the same way as Amahl and Gitanjali. Mehmet will showcase examples of developmental biliteracy, phonetics and phonology.

Last but not least, I would also like to share some essential information about the origin of my son’s name. You can, I confess, become very fussy with names, especially if you are a linguist and never thought it would be such a challenge.  My husband is a software engineer, so I thought he wouldn’t be fussy as myself, but yes dads can be fussy with names too! It was also my father’s decision to name me Yasemin, so there you go. I am grateful that my name is an international name and comes in various forms- Yasemin, Yasmin, Jasmine, etc. Likewise, my son’s name had to be: traditional, not too funky, no umlauts (yes Turkish names have umlauts), Arabic or Turkish origin, and meaningful. The naming task became all the more difficult when I realized that I and my husband was unable to find a mutual name we BOTH liked. It was therefore my decision that we name our son after our fathers- this way we met in the middle and his name was deeply rooted and meaningful. Mehmet is my father’s name and his middle name, Osman, is my father-in-law’s name. In the Gulf region, Mehmet is mistakenly confused with Mohammed/Muhammed. Mehmet is the Turkishized version of Muhammed but in present-day Turkey its meaning has changed and now means ‘soldier’. My father was initially named as ‘Muhammet’ but back in those days you were not allowed to name your child after prophet Mohammad (s.a.a.w), as it was considered as a sacred holy name, so can understand why through time it was Turkishized. Now in present-day-Turkey Muhammet and Mehmet are used as separate names. Osman, is also of Arabic origin and means ‘honest’ and ‘sincere’. Othman I (Osman) is also who founded the Ottoman Empire and the Ottoman dynasty that ruled Turkey after the 13th century; conquered most of Asia Minor and assumed the title of emir in 1299 (1259-1326). This is why we speak of the Ottoman (derived from Osman) Empire.

As of now I will continue to update you all from this site on a more regular basis, not only as a linguist, but also as a proud mother.

Best wishes,



Cummins, J. 1979. Linguistic interdependence and the educational development of bilingual children. Review of Educational Research, 49, 222-251.

Gnanadesikan, A. 2004. Markedness and faithfulness constraints in child phonology. In: René Kager, Joe Pater and Wim Zonneveld (eds.), Constraints in Phonological Acquisition, 73-108. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Smith, N.V. 1973. The Acquisition of Phonology: A Case Study. Cambridge University Press.


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11th Teaching and Language Corpora Conference Lancaster University, UK – 20th to 23rd July 2014

I am pleased to announce that my next upcoming conference paper will be at Lancaster University. I will be presenting the findings of my funded research entitled “The BUiD Arab Learner Corpus: Explaining Second Language Writing Systems within a Markedness Framework”.

Conference website:

Abstract: TALC2014_abstract  Acknowledgements: This research is funded by The British University in Dubai.

TALC_Lancaster_2014 (21) (1)

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The 34th International Society for Teacher Education (ISfTE) Conference 2014, Hacettepe University

I will be presenting a paper entitled “Exploring Teacher Identity: Moving from macro to micro analysis” in the upcoming 34th International Society for Teacher Education (ISfTE) Conference, between 22-25 April, Antalya. This paper will present the second phase of an ongoing project. More information can be found from the conference weblink:

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The 3rd Inter-institutional 21st Century Skills Roadshow, 20 March 2014, from 13.00 – 17.00, at Zayed University, Abu Dhabi (ZU)

Not to miss this free seminar. On the day I will also be presenting a paper entitled Teacher Identity: moving from macro to micro analysis.  Please register if you are interested. Below you can also find the flyer

Final_Zayed_Mar_2014 Programme

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The second 21st Century Skills Roadshow, February 13 2014, from 13.00 – 17.00, at United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), Al Ain

Not to miss this free event. Below you can also find the flyer
Final_UAEU_Feb_2014 Programmecahngeshighlighted

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Inter-Institutional Research Roadshow

Inter-Institutional Research Roadshow_Dec_5_13 (1)

The first series of the Inter-Institutional Roadshow seminars will be hosted at the British University in Dubai on the 5th of December. The programme will be issued very soon. I will be presenting the first plenary session and below I attach my abstract:

Classroom communication: moving from macro to micro analysis

Culture and language appear to be inextricably intertwined in a complex relationship. Cross-cultural communication (CCC) and intercultural communication (ICC) is arguably the subfield of pragmatics that has become an essential 21st century skill, especially in culturally and linguistically diverse settings. CCC is concerned with verbal and non-verbal communication across cultures, while ICC refers to identity and intergroup communication. Educational research has also sought to identify whether competence in CCC and ICC can be taught and learned in instructed contexts. Though no one would dispute that meeting student needs is central to the work of educators, there are few studies that consider the role of teacher identity on classroom pragmatic development. In order to better understand the pedagogical implications of teacher identity it is a prerequisite to shift our focus from sociolect (i.e. speech behaviour at societal level) to idiolect (i.e. individual speech behaviour at micro-level). In light of this information, this session will present the idiolect of 9 language teachers in the UAE and attempt to address the following questions: 1) what are the symmetries and asymmetries of each individual’s linguistic repertoire? 2) how does one’s idiolect shape their CCC and ICC competence and how is this translated to their classroom practice? The findings will be interpreted within an ethnolinguistic framework.

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BUiD TESOL Open Lecture Series- Tuesday 24th September 2013

Dr Caroline Tagg– 5pm – 6pm

Metonymy in text messaging

Text messaging is a new yet in some ways clearly definable register, characterised by short message length, informal communicative functions, and unconventional linguistic forms. We all know a text message when we see one:

Yeah had a fab time! Want to meet for a coffee some time this week? Hope you are well x

In my talk, I want to look at texting from a new angle by exploring an aspect of language which remains under-researched in studies of naturally occurring language data – that of metonymy. Metonymy is often defined as the act of describing something in terms of something else but, unlike metaphor, the target and vehicle are both drawn form the same domains. One common form of metonymy occurs where a part stands for a whole (the Crown meaning the monarchy) or the whole for a part (UK standing for a person or company in the UK in the utterance, ‘I’ve got the UK on the phone’. In the above text message, metonymy can be found in the reference to ‘a coffee’, which firstly stands for any soft drink; and secondly for something more than just a drink: a chat, a social occasion, the chance to relax.

In the talk I draw on examples from a corpus of text messages sent by British texters aged between 18 and 65, in the period between 2004 and 2007 in order to a) challenge assumptions in the literature about metonymy, which are largely drawn on intuition rather than naturally-occurring data; and b) to explore what metonymy can tell us about text messaging. As well as conventional metonymies exemplified by the ‘coffee’ example above, my corpus is also characterised by more creative and original examples which point to another aspect of texting. My study highlights the importance of empirical research for challenging academic assumptions about metonymy and for creating a more nuanced picture of this emerging, dynamic register.


Caroline Tagg is Lecturer in Applied Linguistics at the University of Birmingham. Her research interests are in language and creativity, and in the application of corpus linguistics and discourse analysis to the investigation of electronic interaction. She is author of The Discourse of Text Messaging (2012, Continuum), and co-editor of The Politics of English: Conflict, Competition, Co-existence (2012, Routledge, with Ann Hewings), and has published articles in journals such as Applied Linguistics, the Journal of Sociolinguistics, and Writing Systems Research.

Dr Caroline Tagg
English Language and Linguistics Division Department of English University of Birmingham Birmingham United Kingdom
B15 2TT

Professor Richard Kiely: 6.15 – 7.15pm

Beyond application: enhancing English language teaching

This talk traces some key strands of development in English language teaching (ELT) over recent decades. It starts with the shift in the 1960s and 1970s from a craft-based training approach to an applied science model. It documents some weaknesses that have become apparent in that approach, and the responses to these which draw on reflective practice, communities of practice theory, and apprenticeship interaction models, all arguably within the ever-broadening sociocultural theory of learning.
I draw on my own research to illustrate how these shifts have been understood in curriculum terms, and how they point to further developments in ELT. The InSITE study into the learning of experienced English language teachers illustrates how a craft model of teaching balances the social and the instructional in the teacher’s work, and provides a means for understanding the complex weave of quality in the work of experienced teachers.
This lecture will conclude by exploring some wider lessons for the development of the ELT curriculum – lessons for both teachers and teacher educators, in terms of how they might engineer rich learning experiences within classrooms and training contexts, and guidance for programme leaders and policy-makers on the social and professional context which best supports ongoing teacher learning.

Richard Kiely is a Professor of Applied Linguistics and Language Education. He has a PhD in language programme evaluation from the University of Warwick; an MA in Applied Linguistics from the University of Essex; and a BA in French and English from the National University of Ireland at Cork. His research interests include second language teacher learning, language programme evaluation, and innovation in language teaching contexts.
Previously he has worked in the Centre for International Language Teacher Education (CILTE) at the University of St Mark and St John, in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol, at University College Chichester, and at the University of West London in the UK. He also has extensive experience as a teacher, teacher-trainer and curriculum developer in English as a second language contexts: Poland, Hungary, Mexico, South Africa, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Zambia.
He has carried out research and supervised PhDs in programme, classroom, and teacher based research themes. He has published in a range of journals (TESOL Quarterly, Language Teacher Research, Modern Languages Journal, ELT Journal, Language Awareness, Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, etc.) and is the author (with Matt Davis and Eunice Wheeler) of Investigating Critical Learning Episodes (2010) and (with Pauline Rea-Dickins) of Programme Evaluation in Language Education (2005).

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