language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 30 October, 2009

© Ioannis Kounadeas / 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

USA: Top cop apologizes for ‘no-English’ ticket.
‘What I want people to know is that we do not give tickets for speaking Spanish, especially when you’re driving a car.’

Bill 104: ambivalence toward bilingualism is a problem for Canada.
New immigrants to Quebec are not necessarily invested in the maintenance of either the French language or culture.

Korean language evolves into dialects abroad.
‘And South Koreans seem to want it ― look at how much they spend on English and then compare that with what they spend on promoting Korean (language) overseas,’ the professor said.

Q & A: English as an international language.
Is it right for language teachers to impose the communication style of a native speaker culture on the language learner?

Language change and slang

Why save dying languages?
‘Would it be inherently evil if there were not 6,000 spoken languages but one?’ It’s illogical to try to save dying languages, a linguist and commentator says.

Let stalk some more Strine.
Way back in 1965 a peculiar little book became an Australian publishing sensation. Let Stalk Strine, a lexicon of modern Australian usage by Professor Afferbeck Lauder.

Satirical Twitter book focuses on Shakespeare.
Two university students have written a book of Twitter entries that summarise and satirise works of literature, including that of William Shakespeare.

A newly-coined Japanese verb – ‘to Obama’ – which means to persevere with optimism, ignoring all obstacles.

Improve your English

The difficulties of learning English.
While Americans are linear thinkers, Asians tend to be circular thinkers, and speakers of the romance languages have a zigzag pattern of thinking.  These embedded styles can be impediments for anyone trying to master a new language.

Things people say that I hate

Look ma, I knows grammar!
I wanted to take time to apologize for my irreverence towards these kind souls who roam the Internet selflessly correcting all of us who dare to misspell something…

Grammar: let me spell it out for you.
Tales abound of children coming home from school with letters about “you’re child” or being given misspelt words to learn.

Opinion: BBC PC idiots rewrite Humpty Dumpty.
The real horror of PC rewrites is that it misrepresents the entire culture. “Everything’s fine” isn’t the message of this culture, or this time in history. The average infant, if able to eat properly, and missed by most of the bullets, diseases and psychoses, might have managed to figure that out by the time it’s taking an interest in Humpty’s welfare.

Grammar gurus and Muphry’s Law.
A perfect illustration of Muphry’s Law: the principle that any criticism of the speech or writing of others will itself contain at least one error of usage or spelling.

Books, words, science and the history of language.

Web to be truly worldwide at last.
For the first time in its history, users will be allowed to create full web and e-mail-addresses using non-Latin characters.

How computers are changing language.
Let’s start with the case where the usage of computers has changed (or better put, is changing) Dutch punctuation.

A language of smiles.
‘Which made me wonder: do some languages contain an intrinsic bias towards pulling happy faces? In other words, do some languages predispose — in a subtle way — their speakers to be merrier than the speakers of other languages?’

The healing power of positive language.
At the very least, she says, developing these positive metaphors made a difference to her ability to endure her treatment.

Ask LL: parents’ beliefs or infants’ abilities?
‘… Parents totally assume their babies are talking about them.’

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Jonathan Cole

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