Language and words in the news – 12 February, 2010

Posted by on February 12, 2010

© Junaid Khalid / 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 town where schoolchildren speak 150 languages.
Schoolchildren in just one town have been found to speak as many as 150 different languages at home, highlighting the pressure placed on teachers by growing numbers with little or no command on English.

Tough talk at UN over French language.
Senior French officials are mounting a rearguard action to defend the use of French at the United Nations and other international institutions as an international language of diplomacy in the face of the inexorable rise of English.

Don’t say au revoir to French just yet.
France may be losing the battle to stay an official diplomatic language, but the world needs our non-anglophone voice.

Will Americans really learn Chinese?
There’s a long tradition of bemoaning Americans’ inadequacy in foreign languages. But what specifically should the nation do to improve its citizens’ knowledge of other languages?

Foreign students to face stricter English language test in Britain.
Foreign students from India and other countries outside the European region who want to study in Britain will have to sit for a stricter English-language test and will be banned from bringing over dependents if they are studying short courses, the government announced on Sunday.

Your mother was right: think before you speak.
It’s ironic that the Palin-Emanuel brouhaha has called attention to the Special Olympics’ year-old campaign to raise awareness about “the dehumanizing and hurtful effects” of the r-word.

Language Change and Slang

Language app revealed by Google.
Google have announced that they are currently developing a language application which will allow the instant translation of speech.

Don’t bother to learn foreign languages: Google to launch smartphones that will translate for you in real time.
A mobile phone that can act as an interpreter is being developed by Google.

Study is sorting the tweets from the chaff.
“Right now we are looking at the properties of the language used in tweets . . . there is a huge amount of variation in the way people use it; some people are still quite formal, others use lots of slang, or words in strange ways.”

Improve your English

The top 6 boot idioms in the English language.
Unfortunately, as we will see, the top 6 idioms containing boots seldom have a positive connotation.

We not ship to Russia
I went onto e-bay this weekend and, instead of the gadget I was after, found some non-standard uses of English negation.

Books, words, science and the history of language

Scan and deliver.
How Google got control over millions of out-of-print books.

George Orwell was as important to language as he was to ideas.
Orwell was a master of the eye-catching opening sentence designed to make the reader want to read on.

Early language problems may hinder adult literacy.
Children with a limited vocabulary at the age of 5 may be at increased risk of poor literacy as adults, a study published Monday suggests.

When to worry if a child has too few words .
There is nothing simple about speech, and there is nothing simple about speech delay — starting with the challenge of diagnosing it.

The 30-million word gap: talk to children.
By age four, children of professionals were exposed to 30-million more words than were children of welfare families. Furthermore, the professionals gave their children, on average, 32 statements of encouragement and five prohibitions per hour, whereas in the welfare families, it was five encouragements to 11 discouragements per hour.

Research reveals how brain arranges nouns.
He explained that when one sees an object, the brain thinks, “Can I eat it? How do I hold it? Can it give me shelter?”

Vocabulinks
An occasional assemblage of notable vocabulary and linguistic debate from around the Web.

Game can be played on iPod with app.
Since I downloaded it last week, I’ve been checking my iPod regularly to see which opponent has made a move on “Words With Friends”…

Commas, they save lives!

BoingBoing

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