Language and words in the news – 2nd May, 2014Posted by Kerstin Johnson on May 02, 2014
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.
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‘Horticultural pornography’ – pictures of nice gardens or offensive language?
Not everyone finds it amusing to read in newspapers about food, property – and now gardening – ‘porn’.
Don’t dis “disinterest”
To this day, most usage manuals and style guides will tell you that a juror who falls asleep is ‘uninterested,’ while an impartial judge is ‘disinterested.’ Of course, most of the people who actually speak and write English use ‘disinterested’ both ways.
There Was No Committee
Nothing about the dialect of the southern region of the island of Great Britain makes it especially suited to a global role. In fact, choosing English, with its maddeningly stupid spelling quirks (Finnish has none), and its nearly 200 irregular verbs (Swahili has none), and its phonology replete with brutally complex consonant clusters (Hawaiian has none), looks like a choice made by a committee of idiots.
Books, science, dictionaries, words and language
The pedantic, censorious quality of “sic”
Sic – not an abbreviation but a Latin word meaning thus or so – can usefully clarify that a speaker said or wrote just as they are quoted to have done. But it can also serve as a sneer, an unseemly tool to mock a trivial error or an utterance of questionable pedigree.
Would you push a stranger off a bridge? How your morals depend on language
Breaking a moral code by killing the bystander seems easier to do when considering the problem in a language learnt later in life. The authors of the study attribute this to the fact that foreign language appears to trigger a less emotional response, leaving people more able to make a pragmatic decision.