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.
Language change and slang
American Political Jargon
Every subculture has its lingo, but few add secret code faster than the American political class.
Why there are too many women doctors, women MPs, and women bosses
Is it ever OK to use ‘woman’ as an adjective? This writer thinks not.
Women in The Guardian
This writer disagrees. ‘The fact is that woman has been used adjectivally since the Middle English period. The earliest citation in the OED of woman as adjective is from a Wycliffite translation of the Bible from before 1382.’
Improve your English
Word of the Week
The Globe theatre in London has a Shakespeare-inspired Word of the Week. This week’s is ‘tarry’, meaning delay, which I initially misread as ‘tarry’ (=covered in or similar to tar).
Language teaching and resources
Tiny Hamsters Eating Tiny Burritos
Cute monkeys, even cuter hamsters. A viral-video-based lesson from All at C.
Books, dictionaries, technology, words and language
What Exactly Is “Cerise”? The Complicated History of Color Definitions
Kory Stamper revels in the glories of the colour definitions in Webster’s Third Edition.
More on American dictionaries, and in particular the fallout from the storm provoked by the publication in 1961 of Webster’s Third.
Gypsy ‘cheat’ entry in Spanish dictionary sparks outrage
An entry in Spain’s top dictionary has outraged one of the country’s oldest minorities by defining “gypsy” as synonymous with lying and cheating.
The 10 Tech Terms You’re Mixing Up
Don’t know your front end from your back end? This may help.
Tesco cash machine promises free erections
Or what happens when you don’t get your translations checked properly.
Dylan Thomas centenary
Dylan Thomas was born one hundred years ago last Monday. If you have access to BBC radio you can hear archive recordings of conversations with his friends and family here, and a production of his radio play Under Milk Wood here. The play was recorded in 2003 but features a remixed Richard Burton from 1963 as First Voice.
The Scary Language of Halloween
The word Halloween, a contraction of “All Hallows’ Evening,” did not appear until 1556, but the holiday has a plethora of words associated with it. (49 minutes)
I’ve just been reading Kory Stamper’s entertaining piece on colour definitions in Webster’s Third. What a joyous celebration of both colour and language it is. It reminded me of a dictionary workshop I ran at a primary school a few years ago. Among other activities, I asked the children to have a go at writing definitions for different types of word, including colours. One girl came up with this wonderful definition for ‘red’: ‘red is the colour of human blood, a fox, and some jumpers’. I just love ‘some jumpers’.