language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 14 August, 2009

© Julien Tromeur / Fotolia.comThis 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. Please contact us if you would like to submit a link for us to include.

Language and words in the news

UK: English as a second language for 900,000 children.
Nationally, English is no longer the mother tongue for a record 900,000 schoolchildren, around double the number a decade ago.

Dictionary of Castro’s thoughts published in Cuba.
Sent in by Kati Sule.

Language change and slang

Discovery of new words a fascinating aspect of lexicography.
In San Juan, he and his wife, Betsey, found “a dish of uniquitously alluring banana-coconut ice cream with shaved chocolate.”

How fail went from verb to interjection.
In a few years’ time, the use of fail as an interjection caught on to such an extent that particularly egregious objects of ridicule required an even stronger barb: major fail, überfail, massive fail or, most popular of all, epic fail.

Things people say that I hate

New ad campaign attempts to discourage use of ‘gay’ as disparagement.
In today’s society, “gay” is often used as a pejorative, losing all meaning and gaining a negative slant.

Language science

WOW: Google to launch a new version of Google Search.

Texting is making English a foreign language.
Baroness Greenfield, the neuroscientist, is worried that sending text messages may cause young people to have shorter attention spans.

One for the parents: Firefox plugin for filtering profanity.

Books, websites, language history and blogs

Wikipedia approaches its limits.
Today, they discovered, a stable group of high-level editors has become increasingly responsible for controlling the encyclopedia, while casual contributors and editors are falling away.

Anxiety in the time of influenza: a flu literary review.
In her 1926 essay, “On Being Ill,” Virginia Woolf lamented that sickness hadn’t become a central theme in literature, along the lines of love, battle or jealousy. After all, illness gives rise to equally potent spiritual awakenings.

Language Video

Eddie Izzard on languages (Note: it includes some strong language).

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Jonathan Cole

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