language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 31 July, 2009

© Scott Maxwell / 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

Misunderstood? When English isn’t English when you travel.
“American English is about as tough as it gets,” he said, admitting he has been studying the language for two decades. “You’ve got your street slang, your made up words, your oxymorons, your political jargon. That’s just the beginning. Even my brilliant British friends cannot figure you out.”

Lost in translation.
Nurses from EU countries don’t have to show they can speak English, yet a lack of understanding can affect the care they give.

The 100 greatest writers of all time: 100-76.
‘Other lists of this kind have been attempted, none very successfully. We would like to stress that there is a crucial difference between “an important writer” and “a great writer”; the latter is at this time our sole interest.’

Language and words in the news

Parsing what the enemy’s up to.
“The cadre of intelligence professionals capable of speaking, reading, or understanding critical regional languages such as Pashto, Dari or Urdu remains essentially nonexistent.”

Endangered ethnic languages — reviving or archiving?
“We haven’t yet found an effective way to revive dying languages.”

English language saves lady from Chinese robber.
A woman is said to have saved herself from being robbed by a Chinese-speaking robber by using her knowledge of the English language.

Louvre online to open database in English.
The database, called Atlas, will provide information on 22,000 works of art from the Louvre, as well as high-resolution images and the locations of works and galleries within the museum.

Spammers go multilingual, use automatic translation services.

Language change and slang

The new linguistics war heats up and deals with our aging population.
‘The battle lines are drawn and the mission is clear: eliminate insidious and harmful ageism, starting with ageist language.’

Are your words holding you back?
‘Do yourself a favor and read on. Because if you’re like most women, you regularly use some of the self-defeating speech habits illustrated above.’

To revise Shakespeare or not to revise?
‘Since Shakespeare’s language is Greek to many of us, should we adapt his works for better comprehension?’

Notes to home brewers: your fun new vocabulary.
‘People who brew beer don’t make up funny new words to describe our techniques, the way we do to name our recipes.’

Faux localization: the new greenwashing?
‘The big word these days in green and sustainability circles is relocalization.’

Language science

Colouring the other side of the brain.
‘Infants perceive colour in the right hemisphere of the brain, researchers report, while adults do the job in the brain’s left hemisphere.’

Linguist’s preservation kit has new digital tools.
‘Africa has about 2,000 of the world’s 6,000 languages. Many are still unwritten, some have yet to be named and many will probably disappear.’

Parents go gaga over baby sign language.
‘We found that babies encouraged to sign learned to speak earlier,’ said Acredolo, professor emeritus of psychology at UC Davis.

Researcher seeks common language for pain.
‘When it comes to pain, doctors and patients may not be speaking the same language.’

Language video

A bit of Fry and Laurie: Tricky Linguistics

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Jonathan Cole

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