language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 25th November, 2011

After a short break, the weekly round-up post returns with 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 reason why is because people just don’t like it
… redundancy is a core feature of language. Every language has features that are not required for comprehension, but reinforce something that is also conveyed another way.

What Ever Happened to ‘You’re Welcome’?
In this holiday run-up, let’s give, not only thanks, but some attention to what one says after being thanked. My observation is that the traditional you’re welcome is as passé as turducken with canned gravy.

The rich: Exactly what does the terminology mean?
A wave of protests across the world and of more measured anger expressed in newspaper letters pages and on social networking sites have thrown up a new lexicon of resentment of the wealthy and the powerful. But how did all these newly popular terms come to be used as they are?

Language change and slang

The Changing Dialect of Hip Hop
… rap was, for much of its history, the exclusive linguistic province of African American Vernacular English. Yet the past decade has seen a number of artists use entirely different accents, with varying degrees of success.

On being ignorant
A correspondent from the UK writes to say he has encountered a use of ignorant in an active sense. In this use, to say that X ‘is ignorant’ is to mean ‘X goes around ignoring people’. He has the impression that this is a working-class usage, and wonders what I think about it.

Improve your English

Cartoon: Tighten Your Belts
If you have to tighten your belt, you have to spend less money and manage without things because you have less money than you used to have.

Language teaching and resources

M is for Metaphor
Put simply, I concluded that the metaphors that teachers use to construe learning offer a window into their belief systems, which, in turn, might impact on their teaching. If, for example, you employ the metaphor LEARNING A LANGUAGE IS CODE-BREAKING you may, as a teacher, focus more on the code than on communication, and, by extension, on the way that knowledge of the rules of grammar helps ‘crack the code’.

Books, words, science and the history of language

The Twitter gene
From the humblest “hello”, to the loftiest idea, what unites our species is that we can communicate. … Yet something as simple as a tweet requires the language areas of our brains to fit together words in such a way that other people can understand them and get the message.

Our ancestors speak out after 3 million years
You may think humanity’s first words are lost in the noise of ancient history, but an unlikely experiment using plastic tubes and puffs of air is helping to recreate the first sounds uttered by our distant ancestors.


The History of English in Ten Minutes: Chapter VI English and Empire (1:21)
(Or the sun never sets on the English language)

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Kati Sule

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