language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 25 September, 2009

This 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

Let me try to spell it out for you.
From Obama to Osama and back to Obama, Microsoft’s spellcheck function is constantly updating its dictionary and grammar roles.

USA: Proposed Texas textbooks filled with thousands of errors.

Marking Punctuation Day: pause and reflect.
What better way to mark the approach of National Punctuation Day … than to reflect on the origins of those “friendly spirits” … whose “bodiless presence nourishes the body of language.”

National Punctuation Day: Stray apostrophes and reader rage.
In honour of National Punctuation Day, the Post has been looking at some truly egregious abuses of punctuation.

National Punctuation Day: 24-hour mark of our failure.
Ottawa should act immediately by establishing a Punctuation Board that will deal with this issue as effectively as the Wheat Board has marketed grain …

Language change and slang

OMG! Texting may not make teens bad spellers!

Language, or death thereof.
In our culture we have adopted an extreme minimalism at which even Hemingway would cringe.

Think you know the English language? Think again
We have all heard of “spam”, but what about “ham”? No, we are not referring to the joys of meat-eating or the thrills of bad acting — a “ham” apparently refers to the opposite of spam, i.e. a legitimate email.

Convention, uniqueness, and truth.
The problem is that there’s no good substitute for the over-used and untrue story about how a frog, if placed in a pot of gradually heated water, will eventually allow itself to be boiled without jumping out.

Improve your English

10 of the best English grammar websites.


Vinegar on a Sugar Cube: Reviewing Dan Brown.
Poking fun at the clunky prose style of a best-selling author is one of the small joys of book reviewing.

What’s the longest word in the English language?

Language Video

Another fascinating video from TED, this one featuring Steven Pinker talking about language and interestingly, how language is a way of negotiating relationships.

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Jonathan Cole

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