Language and words in the news – 4th May 2012

Posted by on May 04, 2012

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.

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

Tidbits and titbits
Americans do not say tidbit because they would titter at BrE titbit. Americans say tidbit because that’s the original form of the word.

Have you ever been out swarping around?
I mentioned this expression to a middle-aged friend and he smiled and said he hadn’t heard it since his grandmother used it to scold him as a teenager.

Language change and slang

Swedish hens and singular ‘they’
A few parts of speech admit new members readily: verbs and nouns and adjectives are successfully coined all time. But the bits of grammatical plumbing like conjunctions, prepositions and pronouns don’t admit much innovation.

Old Spice Ad Campaign Tries to Make ‘Smellf’ Happen
Can Old Spice make “smellf” happen? We don’t expect to adopt this word into our vocabulary, but it might draw a slight chuckle each time we hear it.

Improve your English

The overuse of exclamation points!
For those who are missing the Waterstones apostrophe, here’s a little rant about exclamation marks.

Language teaching and resources

Quickworksheets: Create Vocabulary and grammar Worksheets Online
There are plenty of free online worksheet generators available, but most of them are cluttered with ads, and I couldn’t find any that are as well-designed and easy-to-use as Quickworksheets. The variety of worksheet types available is impressive.

Books, words, languages and dictionaries

How do you sign a local word like durian?
A video dictionary has been developed to show how the deaf can use sign language to describe local icons such as durian and Marina Bay Sands.

What is the worst of all words?
I remember as if it was yesterday the thrilling English lesson when my class teacher wrote the words nice, get, and got on pieces of paper and set fire to them, to impress upon our 10-year-old brains that we should choose more interesting words for our writing. This writer had a similar – if slightly less inflammatory – experience.

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Comments (4)
  • Lovely round-up Liz. The piece about the overuse of the excalamtion ‘point’ (or ‘mark’ as I would term it) reminded me of Stan Carey’s recent article: http://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/is-linguistic-inflation-insanely-awesome

    Could it be that the tendency for inflation is spreading to punctuation?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    Posted by Beth Penfold on 8th May, 2012
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    Posted by Weekly favorites (May 7-13) | Adventures in Freelance Translation on 15th May, 2012
  • My teacher in class 5 – Mrs Roberts – told us that the worst word was …….. ‘get’. It was a lazy word and that we always had to look for an alternative. 45 years later, I still remember the lesson. What would she make of the activity ‘Scott’s terrible life’ in Implementing the Lexical Approach (Michael Lewis) ? Can we replace all the ‘gets’ ?

    Posted by Irene Cros on 17th May, 2012
  • Re: What is the worst of all words – this reminded me of a couple of activities from the Recipe book I used to do with my students. In the section ‘systems for word learning ‘ there was an activity by Jim Wingate – ‘Favourite words orgy’ and then ‘Hated words vengeance’. If anyone is interested, let me know and I’ll send the descriptions of the activites.

    Posted by Irene Cros on 17th May, 2012
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