language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 12th November, 2010

This 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, and education in general, and language learning and teaching in particular.

Please do contact us if you would like to submit a link for us to include. We’d love to hear from you!

Global English

Learning English: Vietnamese have wide knowledge, but they are too shy to speak
The outdated teaching methods explain why Vietnamese people, despite spending a lot of time and money, still cannot speak English well.

English required for more than half of advertised jobs
A decade ago applicants who in addition to their mother tongue were fluent in English or German enjoyed a competitive advantage in the labour market. Yet two decades after Russian was scratched from the list of mandatory classes at elementary and high schools, it seems that speaking English is no longer a competitive advantage but in many cases a basic requirement for getting certain jobs.

Language change and slang

DTCEIASHF? … Then you’re not welcome on Countdown
It was a moment many die-hard Countdown lovers would have given their student loan to see. Rachel Riley … pulled out a series of letters from her virtual hat: DTCEIASHF. Heads bent down, pencils were put to paper as each contestant tried to form the longest word.

English, Improved
There is a reason why neither Globish nor Basic caught on in a mainstream way, and that reason is the basis of the English language’s growing global power. Unlike French – and many other languages including Italian and Spanish – English is inherently unrestricted, lacking a centralized academy or official dictionary.

English: Open-source success?
Jonathon Keats, in guest post at Schott’s Vocab, argues two very distinct propositions about English. They’re both interesting, well intentioned, and, I’m afraid, wrong.

British English vs American English

Alex’s problems with American English
As I’m British, I have to admit that my biggest problem with American English is a knee-jerk negative reaction to Americanisms, especially when they are used by people back home. I would love to believe that I could one day fully accept more logical American forms like ax, or at least find out if words really are Americanisms before showing my disgust. Unfortunately, that instant snobbish sneer seems to be a cultural norm that I just can’t lose.

belly and tummy
The doctor writing in the magazine is not alone in this assumption that belly is American. In fact, this amateur … BrE/AmE word-lister assumes that tummy is exclusively BrE. But, while I had my doubts about the BrE/AmE tummy/belly divide, I’ve often heard tummy-button in the UK … and never in the US. So, I decided to check it out.

Improve your English

Keep your English up to date: Issue
You might think that ‘problem’ was quite an innocuous word to use in such situations. But recently, it seems, people have begun to find it a little too negative, overstressing the bad side of things. They’ve been looking for an alternative way to say ‘problem’.

Language teaching and resources

non-spelling pronunciation
The inconsistencies of English spelling and the indeterminacies of its relationship to pronunciation mean that in English we frequently get the phenomenon of spelling pronunciation.

Reflecting good practice, not setting rules
Guidance for teachers of English on how to link their lessons to the Common European Framework of Reference is not intended to produce uniform results.

Books, words, science and the history of language

On shellacking
The original meaning of the verb ‘to varnish with shellac’ (a type of resin) is known from the late 19th century. Anything that had been ‘shellacked’ would have a nice rosy tinge.

The Surprising Origins of 20 Common Words
The English language consists of many words that were adopted and adapted from other languages; many of which are accompanied with bits of folklore that provide fun and interesting backstories. By learning the etymology of a language, you can gain further insight into the history of a culture and its correspondence with other cultures through time.

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Kati Sule


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