language and words in the news

Week in review: 29 May, 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.


A human language gene changes the sound of mouse squeaks.
‘In a region of the brain called the basal ganglia, known in people to be involved in language, the humanized mice grew nerve cells that had a more complex structure.’

8D World aims to teach English language through gaming.
‘The 8D World product is a fantastical online virtual world called Wiz World, designed to let players interact in spoken English with computer-generated characters that correct their word choice and pronunciation.’

Blogs and columnists

Science fiction’s vital contribution to the life of English.
‘If you measure the health of literature by its impact on language, than there’s no genre in better condition than SF.’

There’s never a last word on spelling.
‘In the digital age, as we the wiki wrest control of language from the hands of the elite, spelling bees look a little fuddy-duddy. Now, I realize bee parents — spelling’s Hockey Dads — might misinterpret these lukewarm feelings as  criticism of their talented offspring.’

Word cloud Of Obama And Cheney Speeches
‘A visual representation of the speeches created via …’

Words from the American south: southern region has produced a trove of colorful words.
‘Southern speech contains a rich trove of colorful words, some of which have made it into the general language.’

Should we have to read the Bard before hearing him? More on Shakespeare.
‘No one would expect modern English speakers to rise to the “challenge” of Beowulf (Old English) or Chaucer (Earlyish Middle).’

What if there was only poetry? What is the referent of a word?
‘All language is poetry, (but simply does not know it).’

The mad logophile: native American words.
‘This week we have a look at native American words that we use all the time.’

In defense of English.
‘President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “We have but one language here, and that is the English language and the ultimate way to bring this nation to ruin would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities.'”

Excerpt from, Origins of the Specious.
American versus British English with a Churchill anecdote.

More recession words join everyday speech.
See also, Of bailouts, bears and banksters — new words and the economic downturn.

If you don’t yet have millionth word fatigue.
Have fun with words, but don’t count them.


Could Google Wave redefine email and web communication?
‘It’s a hybrid of email, web chat, IM, and project management software.’

Capitol Words.
Word frequency from the USA congressional record, by day, week or month.

I highly recommend Stephen Fry’s podcasts.


Think you can spell? Try these words, learn Spelling Bee fun facts.


Jay Walker on the world’s English mania.
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