Author Archive

  • 5 million books

    Posted by on September 23, 2011

    This week’s ‘language in new media’ post is one of the fantastic TED Talks. What we learned from 5 million books uses Google Labs’ Ngram Viewer tool to tell us why exactly a picture is worth so much more than a thousand words! If you’re new to the Ngram Viewer, you might also like to […]

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  • Language in the news: playwright defends lesser taught languages

    Posted by on September 22, 2011

    This week’s ‘English language in the news’ microblog post looks at Sir Tom Stoppard’s recent call to MPs to defend less common languages, or risk their loss. The BBC shares the news that lesser taught languages, including Czech, Russian and Polish, are endangered within Scottish universities, soon to be wiped out altogether if changes aren’t […]

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  • The blogger’s rebellion!

    Posted by on September 22, 2011

    Online English month continues with regular contributor Caroline Short looking at the language of blogs. ___________ The language of the blogosphere is an interesting beast. Unlike more restrictive social media platforms, blogs allow us room to write correctly. And yet, more often than not bloggers choose to distort their native tongue, playing with words, making […]

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  • How the koala got his name

    Posted by on September 16, 2011

    This week’s ‘language in new media’ post comes courtesy of ABC’s Radio Australia. In an excerpt from their regular Tuesday Australian English spot, Macquarie Dictionary Editor Sue Butler talks us through the origins of words such as koala and kookaburra: Naming Australian native animals

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  • An f-word in the news

    Posted by on September 09, 2011

    This week’s English language in the news microblog post looks at the recent use of the word feral and how its true meaning has been distorted to describe rioters, the media, and the global economic market. The Guardian considers The f-word that’s suddenly everywhere – quite literally, the word in the news!

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  • From bluegrass to skronk

    Posted by on August 26, 2011

    This week’s language in the news post looks at the origins of music genre categories. Whether invented by a musician or named for their band, derived from an album title or evolved from a record label, musical categories are always a point of contention. This feature from The Guardian looks at the roots of some […]

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  • Phrase origins: reading the riot act

    Posted by on August 18, 2011

    This week’s ‘language in new media’ post looks at the origins of the English phrase reading the riot act. Now understood as a scolding or telling off, usually administered by parents or teachers to unruly children, being read the riot act used to have far more serious connotations. Listen to excerpts and view contemporary artists’ […]

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  • Turning words into music

    Posted by on August 11, 2011

    This week’s ‘language in new media’ post explores the ‘melody of microblogging’ in ‘The real sound of Twitter’. 21-year-old student Sam Harman, or “evil doctor tweet” as he is sometimes known, has created a programme which turns the global language of Twitter into music. Twinthesis, or ‘Twitter powered synthesis’, harnesses the daily tirade of tweets […]

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  • Video of the week: 5 ways to listen better

    Posted by on August 05, 2011

    This week’s ‘language in new media’ post is one of the fantastic TED Talks. Julian Treasure, chair of the Sound Agency and author of Sound Business, shares ‘5 ways to listen better’ to re-tune our ears and to encourage the teaching of listening at schools because: Every human being needs to listen consciouslyin order to […]

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  • Bilingual or bust

    Posted by on August 04, 2011

    This week’s language in the news post looks at the difficulties of working life in a bilingual country. Canada’s official Languages Minister, Graham Fraser, unveiled plans to run ‘secret shopper’ visits throughout much of downtown Ottowa last weekend, to test for sufficient levels of French services in privately owned businesses. The plans have met with […]

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