Language and words in the news – 11th June, 2010

Posted by on June 11, 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

Britain’s new romance language is English
Some also argue that English is best learned in a country where it’s spoken everyday, rather than forcing people into classrooms abroad, which could be of varying standards and potentially costly.

Canada – a linguistic battleground between the US and Britain
Though Canada is still part of the Commonwealth, our unique history of colonisation and the sheer geographic range of the country make the enforcement of consistent language rules difficult from coast to coast.

40 South Africanisms you should know
HUNDREDS: Normally repeated twice in a sentence as in “Hundreds, bru, hundreds.” It expresses either total agreement with what someone has just said, or confirmation that your life is all good [...] Can also be used as a way of simply saying yes.

Language change and slang

Britain declares war on words that snuck into our skedule…
Other leading hates include ‘snuck’ as the past tense of ‘sneak’ and ‘dove’ as the past tense of ‘dive’; driver’s license instead of driving licence; overly rather than over; autopsy for post-mortem; burglarized instead of burgled; filling out forms instead of filling them in; fries for chips; chips for crisps; and food to go as opposed to take away.

‘New York Times’ Bans the Word ‘Tweet’
“One test is to ask yourself whether people outside of a target group regularly employ the terms in question. Many people use Twitter, but many don’t; my guess is that few in the latter group routinely refer to “tweets” or “tweeting.” Someday, “tweet” may be as common as “e-mail.” Or another service may elbow Twitter aside next year, and “tweet” may fade into oblivion. [...]”

Don’t Like English Spelling? Tuf Luk
The argument that English spelling should be overhauled is nothing new, of course. Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain were both advocates for “spelling reform,” and George Bernard Shaw’s will stipulated that a competition should be held to develop a new, more efficient English writing system.

Improve your English

Spelling mistakes – public and embarrassing ones
Let’s be honest – we all make spelling mistakes sometimes. It may be because we don’t know the spelling, or we think we know it but we are wrong. Often it’s just a typo or lack of concentration and editing. Sometimes the spelling mistake doesn’t matter too much, but other times – it really does!

Excising Abstract Appendages: Cut the Clutter
Whatever we call them, expressions such as basic fundamentals, new innovations, past history, and future plans are wasteful.

English picture idioms

Language teaching and resources

Redlined. Correction isn’t the most important thing
For schoolchildren, the red pen has long been a fearsome weapon, blazoning the marks of failure on once pristine writing assignments. And in recent years, many teachers have turned down the volume, switching from red’s loud rebuke to gentler purple pens. Now research has illuminated another aspect of the red-pen effect: A study published last month reveals that teachers armed with red pens actually grade more severely than those using blue.

English Language Learners and the Power of Personal Stories
Community organizers talk about the difference between “irritation” and “agitation.” We tend to irritate people when we push them to do what we want them to do — when we “fill up the pail,” in the words of William Butler Yeats. But we can agitate people when we challenge them to take action on something that they believe is in their self-interest. That’s when we can “light a fire.”

G is for Gerund
Why this antipathy to the poor old gerund?

Funny

David Mitchell’s Soap Box: Authenticity
Pudding, sweet or dessert? ‘Valett’ or ‘valay’? David worries about the linguistic mantraps the English set each other and the challenge of being authentically him.

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