Every little (bit?) helps

October 23, 2008

LANGUAGE LOG–The Tesco supermarket company defines its values by a slogan that, as my American undergraduate student Denise Wood pointed out to me yesterday, simply doesn’t seem (to her or to me) grammatical:Every little helps Denise showed it to me on the back of a till receipt, and at first I misread it as “Every little bit helps”.  full story

Menand on linguistic morality

October 22, 2008

LANGUAGE LOG–Louis Menand (“Thumbspeak“, The New Yorker, 10/20/2008) aims a gibe at my profession: [P]rofessional linguists, almost universally, do not believe that any naturally occurring changes in the language can be bad. As a representative of the species, I can testify that this is false. Rather, we believe that moral and aesthetic judgments about language should be based full story

No judgements: Global Language Monitor tracks political buzzwords, filters through Obamarama and surges out of the quagmire

October 22, 2008

BABBEL BLOG–After posting last week about the CNN story proclaiming that Sarah Palin spoke at a higher grade level than Joe Biden, I was curious about the organization that made this assessment, and what they thought it meant. Now that curiosity has brought Babbel Blog together with Paul JJ Payack of Global Language Monitor to speak about political buzzwords — full story

The unstoppable rise of the English language

October 21, 2008

FREDRICTON, CANADA–Just over half of Africa’s 52 countries speak French, but the number is dropping. This month Rwanda defected, announcing that henceforward only English will be taught in the schools. It would not be overstating the case to say that this caused alarm and despondency in France. You couldn’t help feeling, either, that Rwanda’s trade and industry full story

Empathetic -in’

October 20, 2008

LANGUAGE LOG–In a recent exchange (“Pinker on Palin’s ‘nucular’“, 10/5/2008; “Pinker contra Nunberg re nuclear/nucular“, 10/17/2008; “Nucular riposte“, 10/18/2008), Steven Pinker and Geoffrey Nunberg disagreed, among other things, about whether President George W. Bush is engaging in “conscious linguistic slumming” when he uses the pronunciation commonly written as “nucular”. full story

Maps: 1,000 dialects and 6,912 living languages

October 17, 2008

BABBEL BLOG–Last week we had Mara interviewing the Dialect Doctor, who claims to cure accents and strengthen dialects. Well, now here is databank of roughly nearly 1,000 speech samples: Native and non-native speakers of English all read the same English paragraph; the recordings are collected and listenable over at the speech accent archive. They have the nice feature of a world map full story

Missouri Ballot Issues: Amendment One

October 15, 2008

ST. LOUIS, MO–English has been the “common” language of Missouri since 1998, come November 5th it could become the show me state’s “official” language. Constitutional Amendment One would change Article One of the State Constitution to make English be the only language allowed during all government meetings. full story