language and words in the news

Language and words in the news – 8 January, 2010

© Julien Tromeur / FotoliaThis 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

Difficult languages.
The December 17th Economist contains an article entitled “In Search of the World’s Hardest Language”. Such things usually make me groan, but this one is actually pretty good.

Linguistic sweatshops.
Linguistic ideology makes us believe that certain languages and accents are superior to others.

How many linguists are there?
People do PhDs on the apostrophe in French, yet we still don’t know how many languages are spoken.

Breaking through the language barrier.
IBM currently has 100 staff working on an internal project named “n.Fluent” that offers instantaneous translation across a variety of platforms.

Language change and slang

The Chiel – Nagging into 2010.
‘That raised the ire of one Tom Torriglia, founder of the National Association of Good Grammar (better known, appropriately, as Nagg).’

Internet words form the language of 2moro.
‘Why do we spell rhubarb with an ‘h’? Because some guy in the 16th century said it was good to put an ‘h’ in because it would remind you of the history of the word.’

Novel fashion-world initialisms.

Should overused tech terms be banished?
‘…first published in 1976, when words such as “macho” and “détente” were proclaimed unnecessary and unwanted.’

‘Nerd’ and ‘Geek’ should be banned, professor says.
“The best way to combat this,” he said, “is put it to bed,” banishing “nerd” and “geek” to the linguistic dustbin.

U.S. group ‘bloviates’ on old words .
‘…the Word Warriors said Friday they are waging a campaign to restore what they call “some of the English language’s most expressive words that have fallen out of use” to everyday conversation and prose.’

OMG, tweetup is a candidate for the dictionary (LOL)
How can we determine which neologisms are passing fads and which should be included in dictionaries, our lexicological gift to the next generation?

New words of 2009: the year tweetups and snollygosters arrived.
‘…new words in overseas English, including hatinator (hat and fascinator) to describe the latest headwear craze in Australia, and hohum, a New Zealand coining for those who prefer to observe rather than act.’

Improve your English

10 Words you need to stop misspelling.

Then and Than

The way grammar lessons should be taught!
On his 74th birthday, a man in Colorado received a gift certificate from his wife. The certificate paid for a visit to a medicine man living on a nearby reservation.

Linguistics: What is the difference between homonymy and polysemy in dictionaries?

Memorization wrong path to proficiency in spelling.
The recent article by Chronicle reporter Ericka Mellon about how schools are dropping weekly spelling tests in favor of teaching methods that focus less on memorization and more on understanding why and how words are constructed has created quite a stir.

Popular Grammar & Composition posts in 2009.
Selection of posts from one of my favorite bloggers.

Books, words, science and the history of language

Linguistic leftovers for 2010.
‘…a hodgepodge of leftover notes and quotes, facts and figures, suggestions and complaints. Rescued from unfinished drafts, these stray observations on language…’

Language Video

In case you have not seen it yet, here’s our latest project, The 21st Century Flux.

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Jonathan Cole

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