language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 6 November, 2009

Jacob Kjerumgaard / 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

Can you speak our language?
The following list of countries by immigrant populations, based on UN figures, provides an overview of measures being taken to ensure new arrivals and new citizens have a command of national languages.

Why France is pushing its students to master English.
A lot of things in France have changed under globalization in order to keep us competitive, but teaching people English here has remained old-fashioned and inefficient.

French minister commits English howler.
In France in recent years, autism has become a standard term in the political-media vocabulary. It does not shock.

Language change and slang

Early newspaper jargon falls by the digital wayside.
Back in the 1960s, an editor would say, ‘I’ve turned down that picture.’ Did that mean he declined to publish it? No.

Mamma Mia – should Swedes speak English?
The debate over the increasing use of English over Swedish in the country.

Non-Fire night.
Health and safety inspired bonfire-less bonfire night celebrations.

The F word.
Yesterday’s South Park episode features an elaborate drama of grass-roots lexicography.

The alarming decline of expressive language, in life and on film.
The dialogue in “Jour” positively sings, even with its uneducated protagonists, while the couple in Medicine seem to speak very little, and when they do, they have very little interesting to say. Not the ideal ingredients for a memorable film, right?

On language: old dictionaries.
Crazy: blogo, off the hinges, dingdongy, foofoo, nutty as a peanut bar, voom-voom, quisby, no milk in the coconut, dada and goofnuts.

Improve your English

Never Say Never: Five Bogus Rules of Grammar.

Things people say that I hate

Getting it right.
Judge not unless ye be hired to do the judging (which I am!)…The number one complaint about my pronunciation is the word ‘often’. I pronounce the T, so it does not sound like ‘offen’.

Dear babe: his grammar is killing me.
I’m dating this guy, he’s cute and funny and he seems pretty smart but his grammar is TERRIBLE.

Books, words, science and the history of language.

Babies may pick up language cues in womb.
The distinctive sounds of a newborn’s first cries may be influenced by the mother tongue of its parents.

Keats speaks.
The pattern suggests that he suffered from nonrhoticity — the tendency to drop “R” sounds from the ends of syllables and words.

Van Gogh’s personal letters debut online in English.
The site allows you to view facsimile images of the letters and to view the English translations side by side with the original-language versions.

From A to Z: A few facts about the alphabet.
‘Writers spend years rearranging 26 letters of the alphabet,’ novelist Richard Price once observed. ‘It’s enough to make you lose your mind day by day.’ It’s also a pretty good reason to assemble a few facts about one of the most significant inventions in human history.

Phonetics quiz.
What language is this?

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Jonathan Cole

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