language and words in the news

Week in review: 17 July, 2009

© Ioannis Kounadeas / Fotolia.comThis post contains a weekly selection of links related to English language today. These can be items from the latest news, blog posts or interesting related websites. Please contact us if you would like to submit a link for us to include.

Blogs and columnists

Steep learning curves.
Does this phrase refer to the learning rate or difficulty?

Time for slow reading and slow writing.
‘In his preface to Daybreak (1887), German philosopher and philologist Friedrich Nietzsche recommended the practice of slow reading.’

English language is full of fun stuff.
So I’d like to put a bug in your ear about something that just has me rolling in the aisles. It’s been a month of Sundays since I heard it through the grapevine but if I don’t dish the dirt on this soon I’ll be beside myself.

Holy f*@!: Swearing alleviates pain.
An experiment by Richard Stephens of Keele University in the UK found that people were able to tolerate placing their hand in ice water for longer when continually swearing than another group that did not cuss.

I was born on a pirate ship.
Who wouldn’t want to read a blog post which talked about pirates and swashbucklers?

Chinese student uses 3,000 year old script in final exams.
Although I applaud his risky performance, I wonder if the results would be as positive if a British student wrote an essay in Middle English, or a French student in Gaulish.  I kind of like to hope so.

IT change is hard: typewriters still in use at NYPD.
The NYPD made unfortunate news this week when the New York Post reported that New York City had signed a nearly $1 million contract with a vendor to purchase thousands of new manual and electric typewriters during the next three years.

We need to be proactive when it comes to prioritizing our word usage.
The Pythagorean Theorem is 24 words. The Lord’s Prayer is 63 words. The Ten Commandments are 179 words. The Gettysburg Address is 286 words. The Declaration of Independence is 1,300 words. Federal regulations on the sale of cabbage amount to 26,900 words.

So many situations that words could not describe – until now.
How do you describe battles for umbrella-space on crowded pavements? Or the politics of escalator-use?

Video: funny English language sketch

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Jonathan Cole

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