Language and words in the news – 11th October, 2013

Posted by on October 11, 2013

© Matttilda / Fotolia.comThis post contains a 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, language change, education in general, and language learning and teaching in particular.

Feel free to contact us if you would like to submit a link for us to include, or just add a comment to the post, with the link(s) you’d like to share.

Global English

More European universities teaching students in English
Rising numbers of European universities are offering courses taught in English in a bid to tempt students away from leading British institutions …

Are Gender-Neutral Pronouns Actually Doomed?
Some linguists say English, flexible as it is, isn’t built for gender-neutral pronouns. Others say there’s a good chance “they” could take flight, given the right visibility and support.

Language change and slang

McCann Melbourne goes guerrilla to coin word for Macquarie Dictionary
The word is “phubbing”, coined to describe the uniquely 21st century phenomenon of ignoring the person in front of you in favour of your phone, and has reached more than 300 million people and sparked global discussion around mobile phone etiquette.

How Did @#$%&! Come to Represent Profanity?
Anger is a fruitful comedic trope … and so the quandary must have arisen for early cartoonists: How to depict that emotion without actually swearing, which is obviously inappropriate for the Funny Pages.

Books, science, dictionaries, words and languages

An Amazing, Dizzying Map of All the Languages and Races in South Africa
These maps … show the true extent of how cacophonous all these little slices of South African life really are. … All the various linguistic and racial groups seem like they largely clung together—”coloured” or mixed-race people live predominantly in the country’s west, for example.

Mark Forsyth’s top 10 lost words
I collected all the useful but forgotten, and obscure but necessary words I found in dusty, old dictionaries, and arranged them by the hour of the day when they might come in handy for my book about lost words …

Audio

A Tiny Pronoun Says a Lot About You (5:41)
It’s a common belief that people who say “I” a lot are full of themselves, maybe even narcissists. Surprising new research turns that assumption on it’s [sic] head. Elizabeth Bernstein and University of Texas researcher James Pennebaker explain.

Video

Comma story (5:00)
It isn’t easy holding complex sentences together (just ask a conjunction or a subordinate), but the clever little comma can help lighten the load. But how to tell when help is really needed? Terisa Folaron offers some tricks of the comma trade.

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