language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 16 October, 2009

© Phototom / 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

Are British business relying on the English language too much?
‘… on average small businesses were losing up to £250,000 a year in orders due to a lack of language skills.’

Japanese learn English from Obama speeches.
‘… turning the president into Japan’s most popular teacher of the English language.’

The French get lost in the clouds over a new term in the Internet Age.
Keeping the French language relevant isn’t easy in the Internet age.

France calls for plan to improve language teaching.
French children generally spend years learning foreign languages in school, but the results are often dismal.

Language change and slang

Hobbes: Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding.

Txting: the gr8 db8 by David Crystal.
‘In a logical world, text messaging should not have survived,’ writes Crystal and he is right.

The New Literacy: Stanford study finds richness and complexity in students’ writing
Today’s kids don’t just write for grades anymore. They write to shake the world.

Books, words, science and the history of language.

The web’s inventor regrets one small thing.
‘Look at all the paper and trees, he said, that could have been saved if people had not had to write or type out those slashes on paper over the years.’

Take Proust’s questionnaire, rub shoulders with literati.
Since 1993, Vanity Fair has been posing its own version of Proust’s questionnaire to celebrities, literary and otherwise.

Have humans entered a new stage of evolution?
Hawking on evolution. ‘In the 18th century, there was said to be a man who had read every book written. But nowadays, if you read one book a day, it would take you about 15,000 years to read through the books in a national Library.’

Brain probes map language area.
Because opening a person’s skull and inserting electrodes into his brain is something surgeons would only do when medically necessary, the study gave researchers a rare look into human brain function.

Malmö mystery man ‘sounds Dutch’: linguist.
A man who woke up in a Malmö hospital bed four weeks ago without any recollection of who he is or how he got there.

Shakespeare’s ‘linguistic fingerprint’ solves mystery.
Scholars have disagreed as to the authorship of The Reign of King Edward III, although at least some Shakespeare anthologies include it.

Do we need a TV ban for toddlers?
New Australian guidelines claim that children under two should be banned from watching TV. Should the UK follow suit?

Learning to speak ‘merican.
But with the [British] accent comes new stuff to learn about rights and impositions.

Wordplay: Best iPhone word games.
But we’ve found the best iPhone games are often simple in style and high in strategy.

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Jonathan Cole


  • If anyone is interested in the story about the Malmo mystery man, I’d strongly recommend an article by Nick Miller called ‘The merry vibes of Wintzer: the tale of foreign accent syndrome’. It’s to be found in ‘Tall Tales about the Mind & Brain’ (edited by Sergio Della Sala, OUP, 2007) and the whole chapter can be accessed online at Google books.

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