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Language and words in the news – 15th March, 2013

© Matttilda / Fotolia.comThis post contains a 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, language change, education in general, and language learning and teaching in particular.

Feel free to contact us if you would like to submit a link for us to include, or just add a comment to the post, with the link(s) you’d like to share.

Global English

English-language invasion troubles Finnish academia
Today more and more university courses are being offered in English but not everyone’s happy about the development, which is seen as undermining Finland’s official languages.

The comma that let a Malaysian airline sneak in
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes has big plans for his budget airline. This week, the government approved the Malaysian carrier’s proposal to set up a new airline in India with the Tata group – and it happened thanks to a comma.

Language change and slang

The half-life of metaphors
Metaphors are not born as such. They begin as concrete descriptions of the world, and are only gradually extended to other domains. Without ever crossing a bright line, they become everyday language, divorced from the original referent. …  In many cases, the original meaning is even forgotten.

You Say “Best.” I Say No. It’s time to kill the email signoff.
After 10 or 15 more “Regards” of varying magnitudes, I could take no more. I finally realized the ridiculousness of spending even one second thinking about the totally unnecessary words that we tack on to the end of emails. And I came to the following conclusion: It’s time to eliminate email signoffs completely.

“-ess” bend: the curious resurgence of ‘authoress’
If the n-grams are to be believed (and they’re not totally reliable), use of the word ‘authoress’ has more than doubled since the turn of the century and the word is more popular now than it has been for 30 years. Its rise is more than twice as fast as its earlier decline. At this rate, it will be more popular than ever by about 2020.

Language teaching and resources

M is for Mobility
Capturing and reconstituting the traces of language use would seem to be one of the more useful spin-offs of mobile technology. The billions of words that are digitally generated, transmitted and stored on a daily basis offer an unlimited and continuously updated resource for language users.

Improve your English

Your English: Collocations: firm
Tim Bowen provides a firm grounding in collocations.

Books, science, dictionaries, words and languages

This Pictionary Proposal Is Picture Perfect
Devising the perfect proposal is no easy feat. It’s almost as hard as actually winning a game of Pictionary. …

Solving the ‘Cocktail Party Problem’: How We Can Focus On One Speaker in Noisy Crowds
“Most studies use very simplified, unnatural stimuli to study the Cocktail Party Problem — like brief beeps, or even brief phrases — whereas we were able show that with appropriate techniques, we could study this problem using natural speech,” …

Lingua Latina mortua est, vivat lingua Latina!
“It could be argued that the native Latin tongue lasted for ever, inasmuch as modern Romance languages are the contemporary stages of an uninterrupted native usage of Latin … If, on the other hand, we prefer to understand Latin as the language whose grammatical structure has been preserved in the works of the classics, it cannot be denied that, as a native tongue, it existed for just a few generations.”

Language technology

Twitter Opens Tweet Archive Access To Users In 12 More Languages …
Today Twitter announced that it would be ramping up its archiving tool to cover people who use the service in 12 non-English languages …giving the company one more way of engaging with its international audience, now 70% of its 200 million-monthly user base.

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