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Language and words in the news – 18th May 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

Logue jam: a catalog of dialogues
“Catalogue” can also be spelled “catalog.” “Dialogue” can also be spelled “dialog.” But “monologue” is rarely spelled “monolog.” The Americans are at it again.

Language change and slang

What does re-moding actually mean?
The minister could have asked people to walk or to cycle, instead of using the Tube. Instead Transport Secretary Justine Greening asked people to re-mode in a promotional video. Specifically to “re-route, re-mode, re-time”.

The power of being ‘Grokked’
It is gratifying for all of us to be deeply known – to be “grokked.” When we are feeling the very painful feelings of life … it is profoundly healing to know that another knows exactly what we are feeling and has deep empathy for our feelings.

Improve your English

The O word
NICE don’t think people who are, let’s say, a little larger than the norm – you know, a bit bulky; blessed with a touch more avoirdupois than average – should be called this word.

Language teaching and resources

Reuters video: TV has gone to the dogs
Cat lovers may be wondering if there’s a channel for moggies. Well, not yet (it’s only a matter of time), but you can buy DVDs for cats to watch.

Books, words, languages and dictionaries

Edible dictionary: microbial mothers
I love my mom and all, but I also want to recognize another set of mothers—those blobs of yeast and bacterial cultures found floating in unpasteurized cider, wine vinegar, and other fermented liquids.

It depends on what “the” means
Sentences like “The kids had been writing with indelible markers on the wall of their grandmother’s living room” occur frequently, even though living rooms have four walls, and the meaning is the same as would be expressed by the (less natural sounding) “a wall”.

G is for gossip
I’m not the first – by a long chalk – to want to broadcast the fact that it’s simply not possible to have thousands of ‘friends’, unless friendship is redefined in such a way as to leach it of all meaning entirely.


Give Us The Tools
Cameron is portrayed as a woodcutter (lumberjack) with an axe. He’s already chopped down (cut down, felled) a number of trees—a metaphor for the government’s deficit-reduction measures.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter


  • There are some interesting uses here – especially, I think, the difference between ‘the’ in ‘the kids’ and ‘the wall’. It’s “the kids and we all know who THEY are” versus the generic ‘the wall’, representing all the walls in a house. No wonder non-native speakers have trouble with articles in English – it’s a minefield.

  • Following on from Gill’s comment about ‘the’: there’s a situation I once heard described (I think by Mike McCarthy) which goes like this. A woman (let’s call her Jane) is standing in her front garden and asks the following questions to 3 different people: to person A: ‘Have you seen a dog?”; to person B: ‘Have you seen our dog?’; to person C: ‘Have you seen the dog?’. (Jane has lost her dog.) Person A is a random passer-by who does not know Jane or her dog; person B is a neighbour who knows the dog; person C is a member of Jane’s family, for whom ‘the dog’ is ‘the one we all know’.. These little words make all the difference.

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