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Language and words in the news – 24th May, 2013

© Scott Maxwell / 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 atop the Eurovision pile, yet again
It is clear that pop is just another area in which English is taking over Europe, alongside business and the politics of the European Union. French is holding a solid second place, as it does elsewhere. The rest of Europe’s many language communities divide up what remains.

You can pronounce “GIF” any way you like
Despite the wishes and fiats of self-appointed regulators, linguistic variation is perfectly fine. Language is big and stretchy; it contains multitudes and embraces variety. What little confusion might arise over the pronunciation of GIF will not hurt anyone or bring civilisation to its knees. More to the point, a preference for “gif” or “jif” does not imply someone’s wrongness, stupidity, or moral deficiency.

France approves English language classes
France’s lower parliament has approved a proposal to allow universities to teach some classes in English, despite claims that it could turn French into a “dead language”.

Language change and slang

US ‘now using British-isms’ (5:02)
Professor of English Ben Yagoda and Dr Lynne Murphy, a reader in linguistics at the University of Sussex discuss British words being used in American English.

A linguistic dissection of 7 annoying teenage sounds
The next time you find yourself wondering about the highest use of linguistics, or enduring the insulting grunts and groans of petulant adolescents and wondering how such noises could even be described, bring the two worlds together. Clearly, linguistics exists just so we can give a technical description of those hard-to-spell sounds that erupt from callow youths.

Language teaching and resources

25 Things Teachers Should Know About Gamification
Gamification has been a big buzzword in education in recent times. Using game-style methods to incentivize students to get their learn on can be fun and effective teaching and learning methods. … From the most simple questions (like, ‘what is gamification, anyway?) to the more complex ideas (goals and structure of using gamification in your classroom) and the history of its use (The Oregon Trail), these 25 bullet points will get you started in the right direction.

Infograph lesson 5: Flying across the globe
This upper intermediate infograph lesson looks at interesting facts and figures about bird migration.

Language technology

Google Translate now serves 200 million people daily
The service now works in 71 languages … Initially, only some language translation pairs were supported, but in 2008, Google launched the ability to translate any language to any other language. The amount of text Google translates daily is more than what’s in a million books, and surpasses what professional translators handle in a full year …

Books, science, dictionaries, words and languages

How Bilinguals Switch Between Languages
Research on bilingualism has increased in recent years as the global climate has become more intermixed … These new findings challenge the idea that bilinguals always have one dominant language.


Inside a cartoonist’s world (4:23)
From cave drawings to the Sunday paper, artists have been visualizing ideas – cartoons – for centuries. New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly walks us through the many stages every cartoon goes through, starting with an idea and turning into something that connects us on a deeply human level.

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Kati Sule

1 Comment

  • Thank you for the post. This blog is incredibly helpful. I will use these with my students. I think they will find them useful as this is the “real” English.
    Thanks again

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