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Language and words in the news – 8th October, 2011

This post contains a selection of links related to recent 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.

Language change and slang

Regional accents thrive in U.S. – but is that a good thing?
If you’re one of the many that assume all this media exposure must be homogenizing the American accent, you’re not alone. It sounds like a logical hypothesis … But experts say it’s a common misconception that has no basis in fact.

Improve your English

Quiz on Commonly Confused Words (Autumn 2011)
Ten questions, two minutes, correct answers at the end of the post.

Language teaching and resources

Teach foreign languages from 5
“Learning a foreign language, and the culture that goes with it, is one of the most useful things we can do to broaden the empathy and imaginative sympathy and cultural outlook of children.”

P is for Prescriptive
The problem is that [my students] come to associate all rules with prescriptivism. Thus, the rule that “to form the past tense of regular verbs, you add –ed to the base form of the verb” is considered prescriptive – simply because it’s a rule.

Language technology

Do spelling and grammar matter when evaluating content and site quality?
In this video (2:59), Google’s Matt Cutts exlains the relationship between Google’s PageRank (i.e. how ‘reputable’ a site is according to Google’s search engine) and spelling.

Books, words, science and the history of language

Teaching Non-Language Courses in a Foreign Language Improves Language Learning
Students who in addition to their traditional German language courses are taught other courses in German end up with both a stronger vocabulary and a better communicative ability, according to a new doctoral thesis in German from the University of Gothenburg.


The History of English in Ten Minutes Chapter IX (1:19)
Internet English


Copyediting Tip of the Week:
The Grocer’s Comma

I love that the grocer’s apostrophe has become what we might call the grocer’s comma. Or should that be the grocer,s comma?

Strunk and Ptah (Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller)
Ancient Grammar Police
More on the cartoon and ‘Zombie Rules’ by Language Log here.
… “Never end a sentence with a __” suggests that most thoroughly decomposed of Zombie Rules, the tangled web of confusion about phrase-final prepositions.

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