language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 20th November, 2010

This weekly 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.

This week the post is shorter, sweeter … and also comes somewhat later, and includes only news about words and phrases.

Please do contact us if you would like to submit a link for us to include. We’d love to hear from you!

Global English

On Language – Web
How to abbreviate the name was problematic from the beginning. “Friends at CERN gave me a hard time, saying it would never take off,” Berners-­Lee wrote in his memoir, “especially since it yielded an acronym that was nine syllables long when spoken”: double-u, double-u, double-u. Cailliau, who hailed from the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium, told me that it was not so troublesome for him, because in Dutch and other Northern European languages WWW is simply pronounced weh-weh-weh.

I hate to tell you
Phrases that announce ‘I’m lying‘
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but there’s a whole range of phrases that aren’t doing the jobs you think they’re doing.

Language change and slang

Out-physicalled and out-verbed
It’s interesting how often out-physicalled is used as part of a pair or longer series of out-verbings. Something about the rhythm of these sentences seems to invite such constructions; they’re almost like a chant or a slogan.

Improve your English

Quiz on Commonly Confused Words
You know the drill: ten questions, two minutes, correct answers at the end of the post.

“Foreword” Versus “Forward”
This episode addresses another often-confused pair of homophones: “forward” and “foreword.” … We’ll also look at how forewords, prefaces, introductions and prologues differ, and how afterwords and epilogues differ.

Books, words, science and the history of language

Wordface from World Wide Words
Seasonal words, Words of the week, Wicked stepmother

The etymology of cheesehead
Consulting with the Dictionary of American Regional English, the usual starting point for American dialect words, you find little, just the old meaning ‘stupid or awkward person’. This is seriously outdated, especially here in Wisconsin, where people are bursting with cheesehead pride. Seriously.


Words of the Year by A Way With Words
What’s your choice for 2010’s word of the year? Mama grizzly? Starwhacker? Who could forget vuvuzela? Martha and Grant discuss the five-oh in Hawaii 5-0, and whether the tagline “I approve this message” is grammatical. Also, is the phrase “it is what it is” annoying or merely philosophical?

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Kati Sule

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