global English language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 30th July, 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 language education too.

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

Global English

Pretty girls make men dumb
Inspired by Evan Frendo’s really interesting post on impression management (IM), I went hunting for research papers in the University of Pennsylvania’s online libraries.

Study of Oregon Latinos Finds Language Gap
A new OSU study of Oregon’s Latino residents shows that while first- and second-generation immigrants from Mexico or other Spanish-speaking countries maintain a Spanish-speaking dominance, English is dominant by the third generation. By the fourth generation, the study shows, any traces of Spanish language are almost completely minimized.

Losing campaign to fend off English
I rather sympathise with the French, who object to the fashionable embrace of English. It’s not new, of course. The Parisien beau monde adopted anglicisms like le gentleman, le redingote (riding coat), le snob and le fair play in the 19th century. In the 1950s dawn of le rock’n roll, people caught up on le hit parade during le weekend.

English-language skills taking off among pilots
Aviation leaders are reporting success with a decade-long push to make sure pilots and air traffic controllers around the globe are proficient in English – the official language of aviation worldwide.

Language change and slang

Q is for Quote marks
Quote marks, after all, are not innocent bystanders in the processes of text creation and interpretation. Traditionally, of course, they separated quoted matter from the writer’s own words. Hence, they’re called (variously) quote marks, quotation marks, speech marks and so on. But they’ve come to fulfill a number of other functions too.

The history of English, however, suggests that the language is remarkably flexible in terms of what can be verbed. Almost any word can be drafted to serve as a verb, even words we think of as eternal and unchanging, stuck in their more traditional roles. It’s easy to think of scenarios where “She me’d him too much and they broke up” and “My boss tomorrowed the meeting again” make sense.

Indian words in literary English
Tracking Indian words in English has been a favourite topic with columnists in the Indian media. This decade has seen the publication of new editions of dictionaries, and each one has added new words from Indian sources, borrowed either in India or in England.

Improve your English

Cartoon: Leaks
For weeks, we’ve been hearing about the  BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. […] Yesterday, however, a different sort of leak hit the headlines, when whistleblower website WikiLeaks published more than 90,000 classified war documents, painting a largely bleak picture of the war in Afghanistan.

Vocab Builder: A Way With Words
One of my favorite podcasts is “A Way With Words.” Martha and Grant are entertaining at answering callers questions about language, and AWWW is a great source of words. Here are a few I’ve picked up recently.

Books, words, science and the history of language

Wanting your life back
I want my life back feels to me like a recent coinage by somebody. (Of course, I could be wrong; I am reporting a mere intuition, which could be solely due to the recency illusion.) It is not a normal sort of phrase.

Negative stereotypes may affect both learning and performance
Negative stereotypes not only jeopardize how members of stigmatized groups might perform on tests and in other skill-based acts, such as driving and golf putting, but they also can inhibit actual learning, according to a new study by Indiana University researchers.


Professor David Crystal discusses Global English (5:12):
Is control of English shifting away from British and American native speakers?

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Kati Sule

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