Language and words in the news – 14th February, 2014

Posted by on February 14, 2014

© Ioannis Kounadeas / 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

Council reverses its ban on apostrophes
Kathy Salaman, director of the Cambridgeshire-based Good Grammar Company, said: “I acknowledge that apostrophes are not a matter of life or death, but it’s important when we’re trying to raise literacy standards in the country and raise Britain’s profile throughout the world as we languish in literacy tables.”

Why can’t we agree how to pronounce common words?
You know how the toilet paper roll can go over the top or under the bottom, but most people will prefer one way — and may even hate the other way? Toilet-paper-roll words have two common pronunciations, but people tend to commit to one or the other… sometimes quite vehemently.

Strategically speaking
Closely guarded strategy is an element of competition. So why talk “strategy” at all? Because the word has cachet. Everyone wants to be a strategist.

Language change and slang

In defence of unnecessary words
When we talk about whether there’s a need for some grammatical or lexical innovation, we shouldn’t limit our interpretation to semantics. Language is more than the transmission of lexical meaning, and words meet other kinds of need: social, pragmatic, stylistic, aesthetic.

“I’m going shop”: Preposition dropping in British youth dialects
The most obvious driving force for this latest linguistic innovation is economy: that is, the removal of redundancy for reduction in effort. In other words, if you don’t need to articulate the preposition to be understood, why bother at all?

Meme

A Linguist Explains the Grammar of Doge. Wow.
What is it about shiba inus that makes them violate the selectional restrictions of certain English modifiers? Even if you’re a devoted animal fan and you swear that Fluffy understands you when you talk about dinner or the vet, I highly doubt you think that Fluffy actually talks back in English sentences, grammatical or not.

Language teaching and resources

Webquest: Valentine’s Day
This love-themed webquest by Luke Vyner includes activities on the history of Valentine’s Day, celebrations of love around the word, strange facts and amorous quotations.

More on Valentine’s Day

Valentines again
A video that explains why Geoffrey Chaucer is responsible for your restaurant bill this evening.

The Ancient Greeks’ 6 Words for Love (And Why Knowing Them Can Change Your Life)
The ancient Greeks were sophisticated in the way they talked about love, recognizing six different
varieties.

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