Language and words in the news – 30th September, 2011

Posted by on September 30, 2011

This post contains 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

A Lexical Beef: ‘Boyfriend’ and ‘Girlfriend’
Since my single life has come to an end, I’d like to take a brief pause from discussing dialects to air a lexical complaint related to singlehood: I really dislike the terms boyfriend and girlfriend.

How do you talk to an overweight child?
Weigh your words carefully and focus on nutrition.
New research advises steering clear of words such as “chubby,” “heavy” and “obese” while opting for a neutral phase: “unhealthy weight.”

Language change and slang

Do You Like Like?
Had the non-native inquirer delved further, he would have found “like” analyzed as communicating something about the speaker’s relationship to his or her statement; as a “hedge”; as more common (surprisingly!) among males than among females; as an aspect of “sluicing” or elided speech; as a presentation of dramatized dialogue; as a useful point of departure for the study of the interactions of components of grammar. Altogether, a fascinating word.

Language teaching and resources

B is for Bad language learner
Good language learners often find it difficult to understand what it’s like to be a bad language learner. They think you can just flip a switch and out it flows. As a bad language learner myself, I run up against this constantly.

 Language technology

Virtual monkeys write Shakespeare
A few million virtual monkeys are close to re-creating the complete works of Shakespeare by randomly mashing keys on virtual typewriters.

Twitter Gauges Global Mood Swings, Researchers Find
The researchers used words that fit into two categories: positive and negative. … By determining the frequency of the positive or negative words, the researchers could gauge the mood of the Twitter users.

Books, words, science and the history of language

Clearing Up Common Myths About What It Means to Be Bilingual
Some people believe you cannot be a “real” bilingual if you have not acquired your two languages in infancy or at least as a young child. In fact, one can become bilingual at any time during one’s life – as a child, as an adolescent, or as an adult.

Mother Tongue Comes from Your Prehistoric Father
Language change among our prehistoric ancestors came about via the arrival of immigrant men – rather than women – into new settlements, according to new research.

Video

How Children Learn Language (3:18) (with transcript)
… Professor Steven Pinker deduces the nature of language acquisition by examining the generative use of grammar in children.

Cartoon and a bit of fun

For some reason llamas have been very popular this week …
Linguist Llama: I wanna be a schwa
+
Llama font – say it in llama!
(Many thanks for these links to @KarenWhiteInk & @GrammarMonkeys.)

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