language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 19 February, 2010

© Ioannis Kounadeas - 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.

Global English

Canada’s French-English strife flares at Olympics.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — For Olympic organizers, it’s a tough challenge – trying to stage a bilingual French-English games in a province with few French-speakers and widespread cynicism about Canada’s policy of two official languages.

Take-outs and take-aways.
Passing on (BrE) titbits/(AmE) tidbits of possible dialectal and cross-cultural interest.

Lost in translation.
Should cruciverbalists brush up their language skills? She writes: “English crosswords should be in English. Why should I be expected to speak French, or worse still German, in order to do a Guardian crossword? It is typical Guardian elitism to assume otherwise.”

Emergency drives thousands to learn Haitian Creole.
Transparent Language Inc. announced today the release of free versions of their Haitian Creole language software based on the British Red Cross Emergency phrase list.

Do non-English-speakers have a chance in today’s [American] banking system?

This Chinese language fad too, shall pass.
In fact, only 9 percent of Americans speak a foreign language, compared to 44 percent of Europeans.

The business of exporting Frenchness.
In an increasingly globalized planet where the English language and Hollywood dominate, the French are taking all things French very seriously.And they’re putting their money where their “bonjours” are.

Improve your English

Winter quiz on commonly confused words.

Do you have any rhetorical questions?
Welcome to the Department of Verbal Abuse, you “snotty-faced heap of parrot droppings” (to quote John Cleese).

Future perfect continuous passive?
… with a comic strip.

Things people say that I hate

In praise of speaking English.
I sent out a request on Twitter for people to send me the worst verbal abuses they’ve experienced. Here are some of the gems they sent me…

Books, words, science and the history of language

Writing on the wall.
It has been over 30 years since Pink Floyd released “Another Brick in the Wall,” and people are still singing along.

Google Goggles has appetite for language recognition, translation.
Take a look at this video where they snap a picture of a German Restaurant menu and it converts/translates the text to English.

Google Books in the dock again.
Google will listen to 21 speakers against the digital books settlement today at a fairness hearing in New York, where the French and German governments are the only governmental opponents of the deal.

Hearing two languages in womb puts baby on bilingual path.

Is this the world’s most romantic word?

A many-splendored thing.
This weekend, co-vocabularists have been generous in sharing their definitions of love – from the moving to the mawkish.

Language Video: introducing vocabulary sketch – a great clip from ‘A Bit of Fry & Laurie’ – BBC comedy.

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Jonathan Cole

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