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Language and words in the news – 17th August 2012

This 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

You think you can speak English – until you arrive in London
When I arrived in London, I had to learn an entirely new language: English, as spoken by the English. The first and most crucial lesson I learned was this: Whatever an English person says, assume he means the opposite.

Where was that again?
Londoners are used to hearing American (or other overseas) visitors struggling with what to us are very familiar names such as Leicester ˈlestə(r). Sometimes, though, it’s we Brits who are caught out by American names…

Language change and slang

Prescriptivist, heal thyself
Those of you familiar with prescriptivism will recognize at once the nauseous/nauseated distinction that some of us spent years vainly enforcing. The problem is that nauseous has been used in American English to mean “experiencing nausea” since the late nineteenth century, frequently so since the 1940s.

A Word, Please: How misuse becomes evolution
Once upon a time there was a word that meant “a male or female child.” One day, people started using it wrong. For some reason, they started using it to mean only a female child.

Improve your English

Euro guide to the use of hyphens
Hyphens do not seem to enjoy much popularity today. Churchill said the hyphen is a blemish to be avoided wherever possible.

Language teaching and resources

Interesting Things for ESL Students
This site has a mass of resources and language games and quizzes, some of them linked to material from Voice of America.

Books, dictionaries, words and languages

Of mice and men
The Olympics are gone but not forgotten. Here’s an entertaining article on the etymology of ‘muscle’.

Where Do Sentences Come From?
Whenever you find an unasked question you’ve also found an assumption. Here’s another example: what is writing for?


What did we do before the Olympics?
This cartoon by Andy Davey from The Sun focuses on the post-Olympic blues, which many people in Britain are suffering from.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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