language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 29th October, 2010

This post contains a weekly 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 and language change, and language education too.

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

Global English

yuck and yuk
… to my American eye, there are two things here that are pronounced the same, but should be spel(led/t) differently. The interjection of disgust is, to me, yuck, as in: Yuck! Who put Brussels sprouts in the stir fry?! The slang, onomatopoetic term for laughter is yuk, as in: We had some yuks at the Prime Minister’s expense.

Language change and slang

Countless falls into a family of adjectives that, when taken literally, imply an infinitude but in practice refer more loosely to a vast number. Others in this family include incalculable, immeasurable, inestimable, limitless and measureless.

‘Haitch’ or ‘aitch’? How do you pronounce ‘H’?
The pronunciation of common words has changed drastically over time. So, as the British Library begins a quest to record people’s articulations, what do the differences in how we pronounce words say about us?

Improve your English

A Matching Quiz on Toponyms
Toponym refers to either a place name or … a word coined in association with a place name. Toponymity, as explained by John Marciano in his delightful new book, offers “a playful and only occasionally pedantic look at the words that come from places and the peoples who live in them.”

Language teaching and resources

5 ways to learn to notice a new language
Language teaching methods too often try to force learners to notice based on explanations of grammar, drills, and other exercises and class activities. I find these approaches intrusive and stressful.

Language technology

Translating poetry might be beyond Google – but we’ll have fun watching it try
The obvious thing to say is that it won’t work, and clearly that’s basically true.  … But the more useful thing to think about, it seems to me, is the ways in which it won’t work – and, come to that, the ways in which it might.

Books, words, science and the history of language

Seven Ways Electronic Books Will Make Us Better Readers
In this transitional era, when the world is moving from paper to electronic books, I hear many people say, “But I love my paper books…” So do I, and my business depends on selling products to people who love books. But iPads, Kindles, Nooks and Sony Readers have demonstrated that books are bigger than any medium through which we receive them.

Hunt for 100 events that shaped the English language
A project to find the 100 events and places that played the most significant role in shaping the English language has been launched.

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