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Language and words in the news – 21st September 2012

This 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

The meanings and origins of ‘feck’
Look away now if curse words bother you. But if they don’t, you will enjoy this erudite and entertaining post on a common Irish “minced oath”.

Language change and slang

Sulking in the Boudoir
Once upon a time there was a French word bouder meaning to sulk or pout and boudoir is simply the sulk-room, like a panic-room but much moodier.

No-Longer-Thin Red Line
William Safire would have been all over red line, but William Safire, alas, has left the building. So we next-generation language mavens have to step up to the plate.

Improve your English

Why do left and right mean liberal and conservative?
During the election season the words left and right denote political affiliation more than spatial direction. But where do these associations come from?

Damned if I could stop negating …
Ben Yagoda has a post at Lingua Franca responding to a reader who bristles at the phrase “one of the only.”… But the fact is, we accept flaws in logic much larger than this when we’re engaged in reading or listening, rather than proofreading or peeving.

Books, dictionaries, words and languages

Dictionary completed on language used everyday in ancient Egypt
A dictionary of thousands of words chronicling the everyday lives of people in ancient Egypt has been completed by scholars at the University of Chicago.

Open(ish)-source lexicography
Following up on last week’s hostile view of public contributions to dictionaries, here’s another opinion. “Of course every new dictionary has new words that upset traditionalists, and crowdsourcing is nothing new.”

There’s a word for that–but you can’t use it
I knew a word that one might only have one or two opportunities to use in a lifetime. I thought how frighteningly satisfying it would be to use this precise word.


You Know You’re In Trouble When …
This cartoon by Kipper Williams from The Guardian relates to news that Latvia still keen to join the single currency despite the euro crisis.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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