Language and words in the news – 23rd August, 2013

Posted by on August 23, 2013

© Ioannis Kounadeas / 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

The New York Post goes verbless
It’s true that nothing here rivals some of the sublime noun piles from the UK press that we have documented here in the past … But noun-piling is still relatively unusual in US tabloids, so a verbless front page from the Post is enough to make us sit up and take notice.

How hard is English? How weird?
Whether English is confusing or easy mostly depends on the learner’s native language. … This is roughly true of languages all around the world. If you learn a language geographically close and from a common ancestor of your first language, there will be fewer nasty surprises, at every level from sound to word to sentence.

Language teaching and resources

12 Animal Adjectives to Bolster Your Vocabulary
In eighth grade when I read that Julius Caesar had an aquiline nose, I mistakenly thought it had something to do with water. But aquiline is from Latin aquila, meaning eagle, not aqua, water. He had a curved, beaklike nose, not a runny one.

Language change and slang

Definition of ‘Literally’ Sparks a Figurative Tempest
The figurative tidal wave of vitriol and subsequent calls for calm moved quickly from Reddit to Twitter to the language blogs to CNN. If you were literally under a rock all week, my apologies. Here is what you missed.

Books, science, dictionaries, words and languages

It’s in its right place:
how to use apostrophes
– the winning haiku
Some of the best entries from last week’s International Apostrophe Day haiku competition

‘Printemps érable’ marches into Petit Robert dictionary
Languages are always evolving, but in Quebec, a combination of colourful local dialects and the always-present anglophone influence means that le français is truly in a constant state of flux.

Video

A brief history of plural word…s
All it takes is a simple S to make most English words plural. But it hasn’t always worked that way (and there are, of course, exceptions). John McWhorter looks back to the good old days when English was newly split from German – and books, names and eggs were beek, namen and eggru!

Fun

Language Mindset List for the Class of 2017
… we need a language mindset list, a tip-sheet telling professors where incoming freshmen are coming from in terms of vocabulary and usage. And here it is, put together with some assistance from my Lingua Franca colleagues.

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