language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 28 August, 2009

© 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

UK: Cor blimey guv’nor, cockney cash machines? You’re ‘avin a giraffe!
If the rhyming slang ATMs are a hit, next up could be Brummie, Geordie and Scouse. Genius, or a load of Watford Gap?
Sent in by Stephen Bullon.

UK: Learning: sounds familiar.
Do you call a ‘bread roll’ a cob, batch, bread cake, barm cake or scuffler? How do you pronounce the words cup and plant? And are you sitting or sat at this computer?
Sent in by Stephen Bullon.

France: French flunk Europe-wide English language test.
In total, 109 countries sat down for the English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test, compulsory for foreign students wishing to study in an English-speaking country.

China: Could it be the end of Chinglish?
Authorities in China have launched another campaign to wipe out amusingly misspelt English. Will it work?

Common errors in English

Ask Language Log: prescriptivism in Europe.
An idle question from a big Language Log fan:  Do you have any idea if the nice folks in, say Germany or Italy or Spain, go as nuts as Americans seem to when native speakers make “fundamental” grammar errors?

Language change and slang

12 words you can never say in the office.
We’ve put together a list of outdated tech terms, phrases that you shouldn’t be using at work anymore because they will make you seem old.
Sent in by Kati Sule.

Dude, you are so (not) Obama.
Last week, if you wanted to use the latest slang to tell a friend he was cool, you could have called him “Obama,” as in: “Dude, you’re rocking the new Pre phone? You are so Obama.”
Sent in by Stephen Bullon.

Evolution of English.
Language exists for the need of the user, not the other way. Modern English has changed and will continue to do so. This is what makes it the “coolest” language in the world.

Watching our language.
If you are as old as I am, you probably talk about dialing a number on the telephone. None of my phones has a dial, but I still usually say it.  Weird, huh?  What is the correct term now, anyway?

A serious case of hipatitus.
“The bozone layer” which means “the layer surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating their consciousness”. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future, especially in financial and political districts.

Quangos blackball … oops, sorry … veto ‘racist’ everyday phrases.
Dozens of quangos and taxpayer-funded organisations have ordered a purge of common words and phrases so as not to cause offence.

TV meerkat launches dictionary campaign.
Fans of TV meerkat Aleksandr Orlov are campaigning for his “Simples!” catchphrase to enter the dictionary.
Sent in by Stephen Bullon.

Things people say that I hate

Back to plain English.
I’ve just come across an example of the type of thing that needs to be derided out of commerce and public life.


Basterds all about language.
The filmmaker’s unique language, obscure cinematic references, flamboyant approach to genre, the zeitgeist — they are all signature Tarantino.

Language video

An excellent talk about words and dictionaries by Erin McKean.

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Jonathan Cole

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