language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 12 March, 2010

© Junaid Khalid / FotoliaThis 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

Fetish of the here and now.
When asked whether schoolchildren should be taught in Spanish as well as in English, a former governor of Texas famously replied that if English was good enough for Jesus, it was good enough for anyone.

The New York Times Magazine names Ben Zimmer as ‘On Language’ columnist.
The column is a fixture in The Times Magazine and features commentary on the many facets — from grammar to usage — of our language. “On Language” will appear bi-weekly beginning March 21.

What is a ‘hurt locker‘?
With six Oscars to its name, the film The Hurt Locker is the toast of Hollywood. But what of the name itself?

Language change and slang

If you must e-mail about my grammar.
Until just a few years ago, “impacted” was used only in a medical sense.

Mind your jargon-laden language.
Local Government Association lists 250 words of jargon that public sector workers should stop using.

Improve your English

Eleven mistakes about grammar mistakes.
Not a single one of these alleged grammar mistakes is both (a) genuinely relevant to English grammar and (b) actually a mistake.

Students need to learn quick, efficient reading: British professor.

Books, words, science and the history of language

Pondering good faith in publishing.
Book publishers have long seen themselves as the gatekeepers of literary culture. But when they’re not looking, the truth has a way of being left at the door.

Questions answered: invented languages.
Questions  to two experts in the field of invented languages.

Google’s computing power refines translation tool.
Google’s service is good enough to convey the essence of a news article, and it has become a quick source for translations for millions of people.

The increasingly blurred distinction between online play and labor.
See also, playbourer, from Macmillan Dictionary BuzzWord.

Language video – American and British slang

Here’s an amusing clip from the US show, ‘Ellen’.

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Jonathan Cole


  • “Until just a few years ago, “impacted” was used only in a medical sense.”

    I realise you’re reproducing this line from the Washington Post, but it’s false wherever it’s written. Impacted (adj.) and impact (v) have been used in a variety of senses, not just medical ones, for decades and in some cases centuries.

  • I had a university professor who would cross out ‘impact’ whenever I used it in an essay. He would then write in the margin, ‘inelegant!’.

  • I understand his distaste for it, Jonathan. In my own speech I would be inclined to use impact (v) only in dental, planetary, or other such specialised contexts. In text I’m editing I sometimes replace it, not because it’s “inelegant” but mainly because its synonyms and near-synonyms elicit less criticism. But this criticism is, as Merriam-Webster has shown, relatively recent and often unfounded. Elsewhere, Bill Brohaugh has presented a lively defence of impact as a verb. Maybe your professor would be interested!

    Thanks for the other links, by the way.

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