language and words in the news

Week in review: 5 June, 2009

© Ioannis Kounadeas / This 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. A new weekly review post will be posted every Friday. Please contact us if you would like to submit a link for us to include.


Armstrong’s ‘poetic’ slip on Moon.
Neil Armstrong missed out an ‘a’ and did not say ‘one small step for a man’ when he set foot on the Moon in 1969, a linguistic analysis has confirmed.

China’s Great Firewall blocks Twitter.
Mr. Anti also explained that since Chinese characters in many ways contain more information than single letters in other languages, tweets can be much more powerful in Chinese.

A new kind of cloud?
The Cloud Appreciation Society says we need to recognise a new cloud type. Alongside cirrus and cumulus clouds, say hello to asperatus.

Study: TV may inhibit babies’ language development.

Blogs and columnists

Do you communicate with simplicity and clarity?
‘Ms. Sebelius began to answer in that dead and deadening governmental language that does not reveal or clarify but instead wraps legitimate queries in clouds of words and sends them on their way.’

Spelling champs: Hope and change to bee-lieve in.
‘But these kids are not simply memorizing words. They have dedicated massive amounts of time to studying the Greek, Latin, French, Hungarian (or other) roots of words.’

USA: 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee winner (on You Tube).

The synaesthete in all of us.
‘So maybe we could come up with appropriate names to fit with a soft ice cream that actually has an acidic note in tasting it, or a dish with a sharp texture but a creamy taste.’

From ‘Taleban’ to ‘Taliban’.
Neither version is wrong – what you come up with depends on which system of transliteration is used from the Arabic script.

Spun with Foonerisms.
One of my favorite examples is: ‘I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy’.

MoJo Interview: Geoffrey Nunberg.
‘We tend to look for a level of Churchillian eloquence in our leaders that may or may not make them good leaders.’

Twitter users talk about themselves, other guys.
‘…the average message was 15 words, with an average of 10.69 words per sentence and 1.4 sentences per tweet.’

Putting the English language on ICE.
‘The evolution of the English language, now the world’s default language of communication, is a beast that never sleeps and has influenced exponential cultural shifts around the world.’


Amy Walker does a little tour of 21 ‘English’ accents in 2.5 minutes.
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