Language and words in the news – 7th September, 2013

Posted by on September 07, 2013

© Scott Maxwell / 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

How we’re herded by language
Once you start noticing the metaphors in everything you say, you realise how central they are to human ways of grasping the world. They are not merely an accident of language, but rooted in our minds and even bodies.

Language change and slang

Margaret Atwood on Why Twitter Won’t Destroy the English Language
You get a lot of nonsense about, “Won’t Twitter destroy English language?” Well, did the telegram destroy the English language? No. People wrote in Telegram-ese because you paid by the word. So they wrote these cryptic condensed things. But they didn’t talk like that any more than I’m talking to you in 140 characters.

107 Regional Slang Words
John Green discusses 107 words specific to certain regions such as Indiana’s “pitch-in dinner” and Ireland’s “to rabbit on.”

Humpty Dumpty, right; Dr. Johnson, wrong
At a deeper level here, Humpty Dumpty recognizes the plasticity of language. He is absolutely right: Words mean what we (collectively) choose them to mean, and we are the masters. That is why one word, set, can bear scores of meanings. That is why words like sanction and cleave can carry opposite meanings. That is why a word like nice can have had in a long career many different meanings: “slutty,” “sweet,” “precise.”

Infographic

Benefits of Learning Languages
A great number of scientific studies have proven that speaking more than one language makes your brain more flexible and helps you process information faster. … Check out this infographic for some of the most interesting benefits of learning languages!

Books, science, dictionaries, words and languages

Look at What I’m Saying: Engineers Show Brain Depends On Vision to Hear
University of Utah bioengineers discovered our understanding of language may depend more heavily on vision than previously thought: under the right conditions, what you see can override what you hear. These findings suggest artificial hearing devices and speech-recognition software could benefit from a camera, not just a microphone.

Germany’s Duden dictionary ‘importing too many English words’
The Verein Deutsche Sprache, a society which exists to promote the language, accused the dictionary of permitting “linguistic posturing to bask in the glow of semi-official approval.” … The publishers of the dictionary, which added the words ‘storm’ and flashmob’ this year, said: “We don’t make the language, we depict it objectively.”

Audio

David Crystal on the evolution of spelling (22:20)
… Stephen [Fry] delves further into spelling with David Crystal. Starting with early spelling reform, they also look at how spelling in classic texts relates to today and consider how the internet causes changes to how words are spelled: no editors, and no one correcting if it looks or sounds OK.

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