language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 4 September, 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

USA: Clunkers.
‘Cash for Clunkers’ has now achieved at least informal status as an American English word. How did this come to pass? Government did it.

USA: A mannah of speaking.
No one else from Boston, or anywhere in New England, has imprinted the regional accent on the national consciousness as Senator Kennedy did.

China: Crazy English. How China’s language teachers became big celebrities. This year it will be announced that China now has more English speakers than any other country in the world. And such is the demand for their services that top teachers have become big stars.

UK: Councils issue ‘idiot’s guide‘ to grammar.
Council staff are being issued with an “idiot’s guide” on how to use apostrophes and other punctuation marks correctly in a bid to stem their misuse in street signs and official notices.

Language change and slang

Lexicographers prefer a mankini.
Twitter, soz and gourmet sex are just some of the terms that are due to make their first appearance in the Collins English Dictionary.

‘Our language is funny – a fat chance and slim chance are the same thing.’
I love oxymorons, and I love that more and more of them keep appearing as the world changes.

NIV Bible to be revised with gender neutral language.
The most controversial aspect of the revision is the inclusion of gender neutral language.

The recession lexicon competition at the New York Times.
There have been some very smart and funny responses to the competition word maven Ben Schott has been holding this weekend at his New York Times blog.

Things people say that I hate

‘Irregardless’ has a posse.
With the passion of a thousand suns do grammarians hate irregardless.

New Zealand woman fired for using bolded ALL CAPS in e-mail.

The most irritating phrases in the English language.
Amis’s essays indict John Fowles for phrases like “He managed a wan smile” and Michael Crichton for “stunned silence” as well as “unearthly cry” and “deafening roar.”

Words you should never use at the office unless you have to.
Fortunately for all cubicle rats, staffing firm Accountemps periodically surveys executives to find out what they deem the most annoying and overused office clichés.

Books, words and the history of language.

More than friends.
What it means to be ‘an item’.

The origin of language.
Many a linguist has pondered long and hard about when the first human would have said the first real word of the first real language.

Dr. Ragab’s Universal Language by Robert Twigger.
Dr Ragab’s Universal Language is thus part allegorical quest, part philosophy and part pure hokum.

Language video

What is lexicography? What does a lexicographer do? Starring our very own Michael Rundell.

Read last week’s post or  more about language and words in the news.

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‘Cash for Clunkers’ has now achieved at least informal status as an American English word. How did this come to pass?

Government did it.

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Jonathan Cole

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