language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 23 October, 2009

© Scott Maxwell / 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

Cel•e•brate: the case for Dictionary Day.
So why no love for Dictionary Day? I mean, sure, it’s never going to be Christmas, or even Arbor Day, but why have you never even heard of it?

Encouragement to English sign of slavery: Sudarshan.
‘The English dictionary has no words for Indian relations like ‘maami’ as there is no place for relations in Western culture.’

196 Indian languages endangered, experts to mull revival.
The 2002 census enlists India as having just 122 languages. Whereas in 1962 there were over 1,600 languages as per the survey.

Educating smarter journalists.
Aspiring journalists should stop going to Journalism programs and go to some other kind of grad school. If I was studying today, I would go get a master’s in statistics, and maybe do a bunch of accounting courses…

Language courses are being ‘dumbed down’, report finds.
Universities are accused of ‘dumbing down’ foreign language degrees to attract more students as numbers fall.

The death of language?
In 1992 a prominent US linguist stunned the academic world by predicting that by the year 2100, 90% of the world’s languages would have ceased to exist.

Is irony universal?
On this theory, irony is not only universal, it’s inevitable.

Common Errors in English

On Language.
But Shakespeare wrote before English was standardized; Chaucer before it was English at all. Both are loved for what they said, not for their use of grammar. Their eloquence in usage should not make their grammar a standard for ours.

Of primary importants.
The Cambridge University review has suggested that primary education should begin later; my judging experiences make me feel that it should begin earlier.

Language change and slang

The Internet has created a generation of great writers.
First, only 38 percent of the writing young people do takes place in the classroom…

Net contributions: how the internet has influenced the English language.
The meanings of well-known words (bookmark, surf, spam, web) have shifted dramatically, while our vocabularies have expanded to accommodate new ones.

Garbled words to get chop.
“They’re moving things around the different baskets, but it will be the end game in terms of putting numbers in square brackets in terms of tariff reductions, if there’s significant requests on timeframes in terms of phase-in.”

‘Gantlet’ or ‘gauntlet’? Why we went with the former.
In fact, the headline apparently sparked so much interest that the term “gantlet” rose to No. 10 on Google’s list of hottest Internet searches Friday morning.

Things people say that I hate

Using bad grammar is literally the worst thing you can do.
I could continue cataloguing solecisms, malapropisms, grammatical errors, etc., but doing so wouldn’t amount to anything interesting.

Books, words, science and the history of language.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt: Vast change, more connection, coming to World Wide Web in near future.
A Web where Chinese is the dominant language, and connections are so fast that distinctions between audio, video and text are blurred is perhaps just five years away … Teens today consume information much differently on the Web and are able to juggle various forms of information seamlessly.

Children distracted from reading by TV and computers.
96% of the children surveyed said that they enjoyed reading, peaking at 99% among seven year olds and falling to 89% of 12 year olds.

A feisty embuggerance.
‘Embuggerance, E., and H. Feisty. 2008. The linguistics of laughter. English Today 1, no. 04: 47-47.’ After I stopped laughing, I set to figuring out what was going on.

In search of that word on the tip of your tongue.
‘Well, it turns out sign-language speakers have the same problem,’ she says. Only they are called “tip-of-the-finger” glitches.


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Jonathan Cole

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