Language and words in the news – 18th October, 2013

Posted by on October 18, 2013

© Scott Maxwell / 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

Can You Invent Something New If Your Words Are Old?
… as Kevin Spacey recently pointed out at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, we still talk about that form of media in terms of its traditional viewing source. It’s still a TV show, even if it’s more like an episodically-punctuated-video-feed.

What’s the point of baby talk?
It turns out that motherese is fairly similar in most languages: Shorter phrases, simpler grammar, different versions of words, repetitions, slower speech, higher pitch, very exaggerated pitch contours …, and more exaggerated vowel contrasts …

Language change and slang

Slang banned from Croydon school to improve student speech
Slang such as “ain’t”, “innit” and “coz” has been banned from a school in south London to try to help students find future employment.

Sexist language: it’s every man for him or herself
The author of Winnie-the-Pooh thought ‘he or she’ should be replaced by ‘heesh’, but there’s nothing wrong with singular ‘they’.

Improve your English

11 Nouns That Only Have a Plural Form
The way we conceptualize something—as one thing or many things—doesn’t always match up with the way our word for it behaves. There are some nouns that only have a plural form, regardless of how we think of them. They are known as pluralia tantum, Latin for “plural only.” Here are 11 of them.

Books, science, dictionaries, words and languages

Donna Tartt and Michael Pietsch
In this conversation, the novelist and her editor discuss the author-editor relationship, the danger of talking about books before they’re finished, and the “philippic against standardization” Tartt sent her copy editor.

Words For That helps give you a word for every situation
Ever had a situation which you think merits a word to describe it but can’t think of something witty? … Words For That, a newly created site, allows users to post scenarios in which ‘there should be a word for this!’.

Language technology

Google’s Ngram Viewer Goes Wild
With the addition of wildcard search-term capabilities, Google’s fabulous language-analysis tool gets even more powerful.

Cartoon

lose X
Today’s Pearls Before Swine, with the penguins coping with the transitive verb lose

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