language and words in the news

Week in review: 10 July, 2009

© Junaid Khalid / Fotolia.comThis post contains a weekly selection of links related to English language today. These can be items from the latest news, blog posts or interesting related websites. A new weekly review post will be posted every Friday. Please contact us if you would like to submit a link for us to include.


Early language abilities may protect memory decades later.
Language skills may ward off Alzheimer’s, dementia.

Britain’s top pupils are shunning language GCSEs.
‘It shows for the first time that the acknowledged slump in the take-up of languages is not only amongst pupils in more disadvantaged schools.’

2-year-olds possess grammatical insights.
Two-year-olds know more about grammar than they can say.

Conversing helps language development more than reading alone.
‘Adult-child conversations have a more significant impact on language development than exposing children to language through one-on-one reading alone.’

For kids, two languages can be as easy as one.

Blogs and columnists

Scholarly writers empower the romance genre.
‘Bly comes from a famous literary family. “It was like growing up in the Bach family and you’re Simon & Garfunkel,” she says.’

A memory stick. A barn. So many ways of storing words
‘The paperback did not eliminate the hardback, nor the word processor the pen and ballpoint. People still buy notebooks and pencils (I’m using one now).’

Walt Whitman on wholesome slang.
‘How shamefully rich is the language of the vulgar everywhere in words which are not allowed to find their way into books, yet which live as a sinful oral tradition on the lips of men, to set forth that which is unholy and impure…’

A few words about Gender: do men and women communicate differently?
‘To make a long story short, the study found women and men both utter about 16,000 words a day.This research torpedoes the popular assumption that incessant yakking is correlated with X chromosomes.’

Words that changed their meanings.
Interesting piece on the origins of ‘beg the question’, ‘decimate’ ‘could care less’ and others.

Google’s German to English translator.
How effective is it?

A history of synonyms for ‘nonsense’.

Books: In the land of invented languages.
‘My 5-year-old son’s sensible linguistic assumptions are constantly butting up against the deep weirdness of our mother tongue.He tells me “I runned to the store.” He should be right. He says “no more asparaguses.” That should be correct.’

Video: Hugh Laurie and British versus American English.

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