for writers and readers….

Mums and magic, Dogs and super hero Dads feature in national writing competition for children

innocent child

This is the third year of BBC Radio Two’s writing competition for children aged 13 and under. It’s called 500 Words and over 90,000 entries were received.

Lexicographers at Oxford University Press have analysed the 40 millionwords submitted and found:

Mum is the most popular word with over 115,000 mentions.Dad only just manages to scrape into the Top 15, although he does star as an action man in several of the Top 50 shortlisted stories – which you can read and hear HERE

Dogs appear over 25,000 times.
Cinderella is the most mentioned leading lady – beating real life celebrities as well as fictional characters. James Bond is the most popular leading man

The word magic appears nearly 10,000 times and more wands get a look in than apps or ipad.

Boy band One Direction is the most popular music act (who?) and Top Gear the favourite TV show, although as this only goes on how many times the programme is mentioned it doesn’t mean it is actually liked. I cherish the thought that there were more than a few parodies among the entries.

Some examples of youth slang were found:
totes (totally)
yolo (you only live once)
belieber .

Better stiil, entrants weren’t slow in inventing their own  creatures including:
lumbagain (“a ghost who makes people dull and boring”)
dulbodogfragonaffe (“a very big animal with the head of a duck and the mane of a lion, plus the neck of a giraffe and the body of a horse…”),!

Oxford University Press analysed the entries using their Oxford Children’s Corpus – a large electronic database of real and authentic children’s language – the only one of its kind in the world. It contains language written for children (34 million words) and also language written by children (70 million words).

The six winners of this year’s 500 Words will be announced on Friday 31 May at the Hay Festival during a live broadcast of The Chris Evans Breakfast Show.


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