language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 09 October, 2009

© NL shop - Fotolia.comThis 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. Please contact us if you would like to submit a link for us to include.

Global English

The decline of the English department.
In one generation, then, the numbers of those majoring in the humanities dropped from a total of 30 percent to a total of less than 16 percent; during that same generation, business majors climbed from 14 percent to 22 percent.

Google Ventures invests in English language learning startup EnglishCentral.
Users listen to popular video clips (like a speech by the president) and then repeat the words into a microphone; they are scored based on their pronunciation and syntax.

Common Errors in English

Britons place little importance on good spelling.
“Why not make a spelling test part of the admissions process? We’d solve the problem of university overcrowding in a flash.”
Similar from The Independent.

Language change and slang

Coined by the Bard: words invented by Shakespeare.
Shakespeare is responsible for more new words in the English language than any other author, coining 1,500 neologisms by conservative estimate.

Notes from a love motel: ‘Curatism’.
A “curator” … I far prefer the legal definition of the word: “a guardian of a minor, lunatic, or other incompetent, especially with regard to his or her property”.

‘Rizotto,’ ‘selca’ make it into Korea’s contemporary dictionary.
Selca, a compound of “self” and “camera,” refers to taking a self portrait by turning the camera toward one’s face.

Things people say that I hate

The bartender knows all.
And ‘master mixologist’? Unless Yoda runs some bar somewhere I don’t know about…

Annoyance hit list: Like, whatever, you know?
‘Whatever’ has just topped a United States poll of the most overused and annoying words currently in use.

Reckless laziness ruining English.
‘To be honest with you…’ When a politician, or a car salesman, says this, you do wonder what words he would use if he was actually, and deliberately, being dishonest?

Books, words, science and the history of language.

Learning to speak: toddlers develop individualized rules for grammar, computer-based research shows.
Rather than adhering to the kinds of rules for English linguists have identified, the toddlers developed their own basic formulas for speaking.

‘Walking English’ from David Crystal makes for a merry trail: New in Paperback.
Readers will enjoy the serendipity throughout.

There once was a blogger who blogged.
‘An Olympian surge in my cranium, had me scout out a rhyme for uranium…’

Twain on Verbs.
‘…it was the Verb that lacked stability, it was the Verb that had no permanent opinion about anything, it was the Verb that was always dodging the issue and putting out the light and making all the trouble.’

Language Video

Watch this amusing clip on English language, courtesy of Kevin the Alien.

About the author


Jonathan Cole

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