language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 1st April, 2011

This post contains a selection of links related to recent 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

The name game – the weird science of nominative determinism
In 2002, nominative determinism became a serious study in its own right … On the assumption that ‘people prefer things that are connected to the self (for example, the letters in one’s name)’, authors Brett Pelham, Matthew Mirenberg and John Jones concluded that people are disproportionately likely to ‘choose careers whose labels resemble their names …’.
See also: Macmillan Dictionary BuzzWord article on aptronym.

“New Joysey” and “Oirish:” 6 Accent Myths
Myth: British English is older than American English.
Reality: Just because America is a younger country doesn’t mean its dialects are younger. In fact, many of the most widespread British accents feature newer linguistic innovations than their American counterparts.

Scandinavians best at English, South Americans lag
Speaking English is increasingly a basic requirement for participating in international business, but a new study shows large gaps in English skills around the world.

Language teaching and resources

100 words of English: How far can it get you?
England’s Italian football manager Fabio Capello claims he can manage his players with just 100 words. So how far could you get with a vocabulary of that size?
(Worth noting here: the 100 most frequent words in English do in fact account for 43%-45% of most texts.)

Language change and slang

Turns of Phrase: Clicktivism
Though clicktivism has been appearing as a derogatory collective term for such purely symbolic actions, oddly it began life several years ago as a positive term for the online support of good causes and has only recently flipped sense.

Flagging up the elephant in the room
How to use Google’s timeline to trace the history of all those annoying cliches – it’s not rocket science.

Language and technology

The 6 Verbs For The Next 20 Years Of The Connected World
… Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly gave the first keynote of the day. His topic? The six trends he believes are most important for the connected world we live in going forward. Specifically, he broke these down into six verbs.

Books, words, science and the history of language

Deciphering Old Texts, One Woozy, Curvy Word at a Time
What Web readers do not know, however, is that they have also been enlisted in a project to transform an old book, magazine, newspaper or pamphlet into an accurate, searchable and easily sortable computer text file.

The History of English
Have you ever wondered where our language came from? The following poem which I’ve been asked to post up so very many times … was done as a pechua kucha at IATEFL 2010. I hope you’ll enjoy it.


Language lessons with Fabio Capello
The England manager says he needs only 100 words to communicate with his players. Which other jobs could be done so succinctly?

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Kati Sule

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