Thursday, 27 January 2011

Popular Linguistics Magazine

A new on-line linguistics magazine has just been launched. Click here for details.

Hopefully the publisher will change the layout in time for the next edition. White text on a black background is really difficult to read.

There is a reason why 99.99999999% of the world’s publishers choose black text on white.

Aussie Language Blog

The Aussies don’t know how to play cricket, but they are just as passionate as we Poms when it comes to discussing the finer points of the English language.

Take a look at Fully (sic) - an Australian language blog aimed at “word nerds”.

Put it on the agendum

The Sentence First blog discusses whether the word ‘data’ is singular or plural.

Whilst it is clearly based on the Latin word ‘datum’, which is singular, it has evolved through common usage into its current form. Borrowing from other languages is a natural part of language evolution. We don't speak Latin any more and can therefore use borrowed words however we so choose.

How do jokes work?

The answer is not that they stand for election to Barnet Council.

As part of the Evolving English exhibition at the British Library, C P Lee, Barry Cryer, Lucy Greeves, Tim Vine and Richard Wiseman discuss the mechanics of comedy in a seminar entitled: ‘What’s So Funny? The Languages of Laughter’.

Download the podcast here.

How the minds of English speakers shaped the English Language

Earlier this month, Professor Steven Pinker gave a seminar at the British Library as part of their Evolving English exhibition. It was a brilliantly entertaining and illuminating discussion about how psychological processes such as memory, mental computation and social networking, operating over many centuries, have shaped the grammar and lexicon of the English language.

You can download the podcast from here.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The perception of accents

Stephen Fry, David Mitchell, Rob Brydon, Sandy Toksvig and Alan Davies discuss how we perceive accents.

Amongst the accents discussed, it seems that unlike Geordies, Brummies are not considered to be trustworthy. This subject was discussed at length on the Jeremy Vine radio show last December.

This segment from QI was first broadcast on BBC2, 15th January 2011.


Saturday, 8 January 2011

Nominative Determinism

Nominative determinism is the idea that your name somehow influences what you do. For example, the surname of the current Lord Chief Justice is Judge.

The following article appeared in today's Daily Telegraph regarding a secretary accused of blackmailing her employer over an alleged affair. Her name? Miss Fuk.

Sometimes this blog just writes itself.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Do you speak Techlish?

The well known paragons of spelling at The Guardian newspaper report that within 100 years, we could all be speaking a new language - Techlish - which combines English with IT terminology.

The Guardian’s source for this story is The Sun newspaper which knows a thing or two about language development for the masses.

The web site Truer Words gives an example of a sentence spoken in Techlish:
“...develops Object Oriented applications using hypertext development scripting languages such as C++, ActiveX and Java.”

Life lessons from an ad man

Former classics teacher and currently Vice Chairman of Ogilvy Advertising, Rory Sutherland makes the daring assertion that a change in perceived value can be just as satisfying as what we consider “real” value. His conclusion has interesting consequences for how we look at life.

The way we speak now

An interesting article in The Independent suggests that half of the world’s estimated 4,000 - 6,000 languages will be lost within the next 200 years.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Linguistic Joke

Knock knock.

Who’s there?


You who?

I think you mean you whom.