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.
Language change and slang
Steven Pinker: 10 ‘grammar rules’ it’s OK to break (sometimes)
Standards of usage are desirable in many arenas of communication. But this does not mean that every pet peeve, bit of grammatical folklore, or dimly remembered lesson from Miss Thistlebottom’s classroom is worth keeping.
Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: y’all
Many speakers in the South and Southwest, even highly educated ones, use the uncontracted “you all” as the plural form of “you.”
Off-piste, off the beaten track/path, off base
I won’t say that American skiers never say (off-)piste, but the ones I know don’t. They talk of ski runs, not pistes.
Language teaching and resources
Equal rights for nNESTs?
Marek Kiczkowiak explores the issue of prejudice against non-native English speaker teachers and issues a plea for a more egalitarian approach to hiring teachers.
Books, science, dictionaries, words and language
The Hottest New Baby Names in England
The one that’s hit the headlines is Khaleesi, the name of choice for avid Game of Thrones fans, but this list of the fastest-rising names of the year contains some other interesting items too.
A list of words first used or coined by Edgar Allen Poe
The American author seems to have been particularly fond of making coinages using prefixes such as be-, hyper- and non-, and wasn’t averse to a bit of nouning and verbing.
Penetralia and Berlin
The Inky Fool likes words that sound as though they should be rude and aren’t. And vice versa.
Odd Bird Out
Rooster dialects from around the world.
Liz: Wonder what you thought of the Pinker article. Predictably it made me cross. I admit he says sensible things about these uses, although headings like ‘predicative nominative’ are unhelpful, as is discussion of the accusative. But I sigh at the same old chestnuts being brought up and discussed for the n-to-the-nth time, as if this is all ‘grammar’ is about. Surely there are other topics of interest in the other 99.99999 percent of the English language.
Hi Gill: I agree that he does address a lot of the usual old chestnuts, but I suppose these questions are the ones that a lot of people immediately look for guidance on (see what I did there?). As such it’s a useful and sadly necessary corrective to the ill-informed bletherings of Heffer, Gwynne et al. I find Pinker an engaging writer and I thought the piece was both sensible and well written (as appropriate to a guide to style, which is what it is extracted from). I’m sure the book – which I haven’t read – ranges much more widely and goes into the subject more deeply.