Language and words in the news – 24th September, 2010

Posted by on September 24, 2010

This post contains a weekly selection of links related to language and words in the news. These can be items from the latest news, blog posts or interesting websites related to global English and language change, and language education too.

Do contact us if you would like to submit a link for us to include. We’d love to hear from you.

Global English

Words to describe the glory of Apple
Apple has discovered something that other companies have long forgotten, if they ever knew: language can be beautiful and easy to use. Words can be fun to read. They can look elegant. They can make you laugh.

Second school set to replace English with Gaelic as classroom language
A primary school plans to convert into only the second Gaelic medium school in Scotland because most of the children there already have it as their native tongue.

Every child needs a dictionary
In his new book Teaching Reading Vocabulary, Mr Nicholson urges teachers and parents to encourage children not only to read more, but also to use a dictionary and a thesaurus.

Language change and slang

Goodbye, cruel words: English. It’s dead to me
The English language, which arose from humble Anglo-Saxon roots to become the lingua franca of 600 million people worldwide and the dominant lexicon of international discourse, is dead. It succumbed last month at the age of 1,617 after a long illness. It is survived by an ignominiously diminished form of itself.

Debenhams’ Whorts And All Guide To Fashion Lingo
“Shakespeare managed to accurately describe the entire human condition using simple English, so we’re certain the fashion industry can do the same to describe a pair of trousers” …

Improve your English

A Dozen Similes to Make You Smile
Fortunately, similes aren’t nearly as dull as that definition makes them sound.

Language teaching and resources

Chunking
In recent decades, the study of language acquisition and instruction has increasingly focused on “chunking”: how children learn language not so much on a word-by-word basis but in larger “lexical chunks” or meaningful strings of words that are committed to memory.

Watch and learn
For several decades now, Finland has chosen to subtitle its foreign language television programs (in Finnish) instead of dubbing over them. As a result, Finnish high school students read better than students from European countries that dub their TV programs. They are also more proficient at English.

Books, words, science and the history of language

Parsnips and turnips
People thought the parsnae and the turnepe were linked and so arrived at the English form  ‘parsnip’ to match ‘turnip’.

Speak, Memory: Language and the Brain
There are certainly parts of the brain in which language is concentrated, but it is hard to differentiate these areas from those involved in non-language cognitive processes. … And because language is a strictly human phenomenon, researchers can’t use animal studies to investigate brains at the neuron level.

Scientists prune list of world’s plants
More than 600,000 plant species have been deleted from the dictionary of life after the most comprehensive assessment carried out by scientists.

Funny

Celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day
If you want some backstory and tips on how best to ring in the solemn occasion, read on for our guide to celebrating one of the best parodic holidays modern culture has to offer.

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