Language and words in the news – 7 August, 2009

Posted by on August 07, 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.

Language and words in the news

Know your idioms?
‘Only when you know a country’s idioms can you really know its culture. Here is a quiz that will establish whether you’re a walking donkey killer or simply carrying owls to Athens.’

The idiotic joys of idioms.
From The Guardian: idioms are not only great fun, they also cast fresh light on the less rational workings of the human mind.

New Zealand: international students spending longer studying.
‘Saudi Arabian students were now the third biggest spenders on tuition, replacing Japan, while China had pushed Korea out of first place.’

Language change and slang

Woman receives first ever PhD in texting.
‘And she discovered from her 80,000 word thesis that there is more to texting that just abbreviations—something most people associate with texting.’

Bushisms and the dark art of political language.
‘Hunter S. Thompson described politics as “the art of controlling your environment.” This is done by a deliberate endeavor to create a desired reality, or at least the perception of one. Language is the single most effective tool toward accomplishing this goal.’

In Britain, a high tolerance for salty.
‘And while it’s difficult to predict who would win a swear-off between Rahm Emanuel, the White House’s chief of staff, and Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s fiery former press secretary, when it comes to politicians swearing, there is “much less fake outrage in the U.K.,” Sheidlower said.’

Things people say that I hate

10 words I would love to see banned from press releases.
‘My biggest gripe with press releases is that for basically as long as they’ve been around, they’ve contained the same damn words, rendering them completely meaningless in most cases and contexts.’

English grammar

Lepidopterist grammar question.
‘I turned around to see a long manicured finger pointing at my feet.  I looked down to see a non-descript brown butterfly had lighted on the stones next to my tire.’

Terminal prepositions.
A poem about prepositions.

Grammar tweet tips.
Sent in by Finn Kirkland.

All-purpose pronoun.
‘Scores of tweets in recent months — enough to inspire a CNN segment earlier this year — have agonized over the lack of a universal pronoun.’
Sent in by Finn Kirkland.

Common errors in English

Homophones for the dog daze* of summer.
Some funny errors from The Guardian newspaper.
Seen at: Richard’s grammar and composition blog

Language science

Dolphin body language ‘follows human verbal communication‘ .
‘As a general rule, the most frequently used words in human languages tend to be the shortest.The same law applies to dolphins…’

Apple’s next censor victim: the English language.
‘Apple has taken its role as protector of what gets admitted to the App Store to a new level after censoring an app that contained only words from an English language dictionary.’

Plan to introduce internet addresses in local language.
‘The new initiative of introducing domain names in local languages may attract new audience to the internet, said officials of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).’

Books, language history and blogs

How to change the world.
An enjoyable read about the linguist Saussure.’…his compelling doctoral thesis on the use of the genitive case in Sanskrit…. It just seems to me faintly incredible, like an interest in the sport of extreme ironing’.

Big words and little words.
“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” – William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

Read any good books lately? (Pick up a dictionary!).
‘What is particularly devastating … (is) that the age group that used to read the most – Americans between 15 and 34 years of age – now reads the least.’

Logophilia runs in the family.
‘Every Salter I know is a bouquieur (lover of old books) at heart who loves chatting with a knowledgeable bouquiniste (second-hand bookseller) in a tiny, out-of-the-way bouquinerie discovered quite by chance.’

Language video

A guide to political language.

Read more about language and words in the news.

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