Language and words in the news – 31st January, 2014

Posted by on January 31, 2014

© 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

English purism: What might have been
… English is actually the odd one out, in having jettisoned so much of its native vocabulary to borrow from classical languages. English isn’t unique this way; Hindi gets highfalutin words from Sanskrit, and Persian from Arabic, for example. But the default thing for a language to do is to build big words from its own native roots.

No English word for it? Make up your own, like Shakespeare. Or steal one
If you want a single word that describes wandering around the house wearing a shirt and no trousers, ask a Hungarian.

Language change and slang

Obama Will Use a Lot of Personal Pronouns in His SOTU Address. That Means He’s a Narcissist, Right?
The great majority of presidents after Wilson followed suit, delivering the SOTU as a speech. To be clear, though, not all of the increase in I/we/you/etc. can be attributed to the difference between written and oral style. Some of it, no doubt, reflects an evolution in rhetorical style—or at least in the style of rhetoric considered appropriate to these formal occasions.

New words and old words
Forty years of evolving State of the Union themes — graphs illustrating how often other key words have appeared over the last four decades.

Books, science, dictionaries, words and languages

Cute Words
And that’s the thing about cute. Nowadays it’s majorly feminine. Nowadays it’s majorly feminine. Women’s fashion is cute. There are cute shoes, jackets, sweaters, earrings, handbags, bracelets, perfumes—and for that matter, cute perfume bottles. Men can wear fashionable shoes and jackets too, but you wouldn’t call them cute.

10 Facebook-Coined Terms That Changed the English Language
There’s no doubt that plenty of social networks have introduced words and phrases into the vernacular, and none more so than the 1.19 billion-strong Facebook, whose various slang terms have crossed digital borders and found their way into every day life. We’re still not sure whether to thank them or hate them forever for it.

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