Language and words in the news – 31st May, 2013

Posted by on May 31, 2013

© Phototom / 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

About Spanglish and Other Macaronic Languages (English-based Creole Languages)
Creole languages have been around for a long time. As a result of a prolonged contact between two (or more) languages, creoles are known for borrowing words from their parent languages, using literal translations of idioms and taking advantage of code-switching. Consequently, most creole languages are frowned upon and considered less prestigious or simply macaronic.

No English, No Career? The new lingua franca of science
… one group of unheralded young scholars has it even harder: non-native English speakers. They’ve entered a profession that is increasingly reliant on publishing, teaching, and even thinking in English. The trend is exacerbated in the sciences.

Language change and slang

‘Hobbitses’ and Frankenstein: how pop culture’s words become official
Though fantasy and sci-fi have invented hundreds of new words, only a few pass muster to make it into the dictionary

Hay Festival 2013: Oxford professor asks for grammar pedants to relax
Prof Horobin, said that it was a “comparatively recent phenomenon” that we all stuck to a standard form of spelling, pointing out that in Middle English there were 500 different recorded spellings of “through”, including: drowgh, trowffe, trghug, yhurght.

Language teaching and resources

26 IATEFL correspondents ask…
Following on his webinar for the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL), Professor David Crystal answers 26 questions about the English language, language teaching, and much more on his blog.

Language technology

Google Translate’s Gender Problem (And Bing Translate’s, And Systran’s…)
Google Translate and other popular translation platforms often provide unintentionally sexist translations where, among other things, doctors are men and teachers are women. The reason why has to do with a complex mix of algorithms, linguistics, and source materials.

Books, science, dictionaries, words and languages

Languages of love: 10 unusual terms of endearment
Some terms of endearment can be used in many languages – “baby”, “angel” and “sweetheart” for example. But some don’t travel as well as you might think. If you call a French person “honey” (“miel”) he or she may take it as a unflattering comparison with a sticky mess.

French finally embrace ‘French kissing’
It’s one of the most eagerly-awaited lists to appear each year in France …: the new words inscribed into the French dictionary. Le Petit Robert, one of two best-selling dictionaries in France, has just unveiled a set of entries (including words, proper names and events) that will make their debut in the 2014 edition.

Picking Up a Second Language Is Predicted by Ability to Learn Patterns
Some people seem to pick up a second language with relative ease, while others have a much more difficult time. Now, a new study suggests that learning to understand and read a second language may be driven, at least in part, by our ability to pick up on statistical regularities.

Language Is in Our Biology
A good working memory is perhaps the brain’s most important system when it comes to learning a new language. But it appears that working memory is first and foremost determined by our genes. Whether you struggle to learn a new language, or find it relatively easy to learn, may be largely determined by “nature.”

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