Language and words in the news – 4th September, 2010

Posted by on September 04, 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

Looking for Baby Sitters: Foreign Language a Must
Although a majority of parents seeking caretakers for their children still seek ones who will speak to their children in English, popular parenting blogs and Web sites indicate that a noticeable number of New York City parents are looking for baby sitters and nannies to help their children learn a second language, one they may not speak themselves.

Does Your Language Shape How You Think?
Seventy years ago, in 1940, a popular science magazine published a short article that set in motion one of the trendiest intellectual fads of the 20th century.

Language change and slang

The Politics of Polite
In theory, ma’am is a courtesy term, meant to convey respect and graciousness lightly salted with deference. Yet much evidence suggests that when it comes to fomenting a sense of good will ma’am fails even more spectacularly than “Have a nice day.”

Has the present perfect gone missing?
Have you noticed the disappearance of the present perfect in American English? I have not – though of course I’ve seen “he wrote” in casual contexts where more formal prose would call for “he has written.”

Language teaching and resources

Three kinds of language teacher
I find the term [language teacher] too loose, in all honesty. And I don’t particularly enjoy entertaining (usually highly subjective) distinctions such as ‘good’ teacher and ‘bad’ teacher, either.

Learning languages still matters
One only has to watch 15 minutes of German television to realise the influential power that the English language has in Germany. This is repeated around the world, and it is the instrumentality that English embodies in the minds of foreign learners that must be instilled in the minds of native English speakers if they are ever going to want to continue to learn languages.

Improve your English

Cartoon: Tony Blair’s Book Signing
To understand this cartoon, you firstly need to know the idiom ‘to put a sock in it’, which is a colloquial, and rude, way of telling someone to be quiet or shut up.

Books, words, science and the history of language

Third edition of OED unlikely to appear in print format
“Demand for online resources is growing but large numbers of people continue to purchase dictionaries in printed form and we have no plans to stop publishing print dictionaries.”

A Word, Please: Chicago changes its tune
Chicago’s new guidelines will soon start to show up in the magazines and books you read. Eventually, your exposure to Chicago style will become the basis for what “looks wrong” to you. But a heads up about the changes in store will make them that much smoother.

Something in Common: A Pop Quiz for Word Lovers
How well do you know the meanings, origins, structures, and sometimes peculiar habits of English words? You have three minutes to find out …

Funny

When to use i.e. in a sentence?

Video

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