language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 27 February, 2010

© NL Shop / 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

Australia: Grammar guide an ‘education disaster‘.
One of the world’s most respected authorities on grammar has written to every school principal in Queensland, warning them of an error-strewn grammar guide distributed by the state’s English Teachers Association.
And related:
Weird grammar

USA: California lawmakers: Cut the foul language, please.
The California Legislature—known for imposing strict clean air and clean water laws—is the first state legislative body in the nation to consider a statewide profanity-free week.

Germany to promote ‘language of ideas‘.
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Well, you should, at least according to Germany’s foreign minister.

Why is the car giant Toyota not Toyoda?

English language dominates Twitter … for now.
The number of tweets in English has dropped from two-thirds to half since last year.

Language Change and Slang

10 modern cases of linguistic genocide.
Linguistic genocide has frequently been used throughout history to systematically eradicate languages for one reason or another.

Fashion buzzwords.
The Global Language Monitor has designated “Lady Gaga” as the top fashion buzzword for the forthcoming season.

Improve your English

Vocabulary time.
You people have pretty strong vocabularies. Makes me happy to see I have high-quality readers. But it makes my job difficult.

The English language is just weird!
Here are some “weird” things in English.

43 most mispronounced food words.

Things people say that I hate

‘Equation,’ ‘gingerly’ and other linguistic pet peeves.
And it seems to me it’s almost always a bad idea to begin a sentence with “I pride myself on.”

Books, words, science and the history of language

Cellar Door.
The claim that cellar door is beautiful to the ear — in opposition to its prosaic meaning — has been made by and attributed to a wide variety of writers over the years.
The Language Logs’ response: The romantic side of familiar words.

English words have African roots.

Language structure is partly determined by social structure, Says Penn psychology study.
The study argues that human languages may adapt more like biological organisms than previously thought and that the more common and popular the language, the simpler its construction to facilitate its survival.

Help pick non-fiction for schools.
The Renaissance Learning company released a list of what 4.6 million students read in the 2008-2009 school year …

Studying how teacher language affects learning.
Recent research into the ways that teachers’ language use affects content-area learning for fourth- and fifth-grade students – especially English language learners, students in poverty and minority students.

English grammar: a forbidding and formidable subject.
‘When the bore asks what you do for a living, arch your eyebrows and inform them in your most professorial tone of voice that you teach English grammar. Watch carefully as a wave of self-consciousness stymies the nuisance into a tongue-tied wreck.’

Will the Internet make us stupider?
Some 76 percent of the respondents said the Net would make us smarter. Okay, but why?

Webinar (Web + seminar) seems like a fine neologism for a seminar offered online.

Making technology speak your language.
Microsoft and UNESCO are working together to help people across the globe access technology in their own languages.

Harry Potter’s linguistic prowess on display.
Forget casting spells, Harry Potter can speak 68 languages.

There’s something about Alice.
With its unforgettable creatures, games with language and logic and ever-curious hero, Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland is not only vivid but thrillingly different from other imagined worlds.

10 Word Wiki Describes Everything in 10 Words.
10 Word Wiki, as the name suggests, puts out word definitions which are only 10 words long, no more than that. ‘Bacteria – Monocellular lifeforms. Some cause death, some cause lager or cheese’.

Video: TED – Derek Sivers: Weird, or just different?

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Jonathan Cole

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