This Week’s Language Blog Roundup

by Angela Tung on September 30, 2011

It’s that time again! Sit back with your beverage of choice and catch up on the highlights from our favorite language blogs and the latest in word news and culture.

This week was Banned Books Week, which celebrates the freedom to read. The Huffington Post offered an infographic on the American Library Association’s 10 “most challenged” books of 2010. The University of Pennsylvania is providing an online exhibit of “books that have been the objects of censorship or censorship attempts,” from Ulysses to Little Red Riding Hood, while Laura Miller at Salon suggested that there are some books that deserve to be banned.

Meanwhile, over at The New York Times, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg remembered when a dictionary could outrage. Johnson told y’all about southern American English and a “saguely vinister” propostion. Robert Lane Greene questioned standard English fluency, admitted general confusion about UN General Assembly week in New York, and examined “shackle-ly.”

OUP Blog continued the nerd conversation with a post about who exactly is a nerd, while Sesquiotica parsed the difference between nerd and geek. At the Boston Globe Ben Zimmer wrote about the art of the self-deprecating hashtag on Twitter, and on Language Log examined the elusive triple “is.” Victor Mair considered some suggestive tofu; Mark Liberman dissected a misleading headline, what English majors know about adverbs, and eye dialect in transcription; and Geoff Pullum was disappointed by poor phonetics.

Macmillan Dictionary blog continued their discussion of online English with a post about exclamation points and online writing and a roundup of favorite online English words. In addition Stan Carey wrote about foolish consistency in grammar, and on his own blog, reviewed Stephen Fry’s documentary about language, Planet Babel.

John McIntyre at You Don’t Say wrote about commas and semicolons, and assured us there’s nothing wrong with lowercase, dude. Fritinancy wondered if creative spelling makes a brand name more protectable; made us laugh about gender pronouns and animals; and marveled over diacritic-packed fruit. Swagger was Fritinancy’s word of the week (we like it too!), while swag and schwag also made the cut.

The Virtual Linguist discussed Romansh Grischun, “one of the four official languages of Switzerland” but “spoken by less than 1% of the population”; Pitmatic, “the old language of the Durham miners,” a mixture of Durham dialect and technical and mining-related vocabulary; baloney; and how to spell and pronounce the verb form of mouth.

Sesquiotica conversed about the many meanings of the word crisp, while Word Spy noticed lipdub, “a video that features one or more people lip-synching to a song, which is later dubbed over the edited footage,” and narb (narrative + bit), “an item of personal information posted online, particularly as it contributes, often unwittingly, to a personal narrative that individual is creating online.”

Literal Minded wrote about false ranges and falling satellites. Dialect Blog expressed dislike over the terms boyfriend and girlfriend (and got married, congratulations!), and examined the Amish dialect. K International buzzed about the language of honeybees; a study that showed language change may be driven by men; and a new app that translates menus.

In other news, the Dead Sea Scrolls are now available online; a man has been jailed for the theft of  “£36,000 of manuscripts by famous figures including Sir Winston Churchill, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and TS Eliot”; and io9 shared a story from ScienceNOW about why the perfect language needs to be both orderly and random.

Here are five authors famous for other things, and here is an exhibit at the Morgan Library on another very famous author. Here’s the biblioburro, donkey as traveling library, and 12 more very cool libraries from around the world. Check out these hot male librarians posing in a calendar for a good cause, and another librarian with an awesome job.

Here’s a corn maze of Noah Webster, and the world dictionary of trees. Madame Bovary is taken to a whole new level in a picture book with collages from Japanese artist Takahiro Kimura. Over a hundred years’ of Brothers Grimm illustrations are being brought together in a new translation. Flavorwire offered some twisted fairy tales for the modern reader, and Neil Patrick Harris, Anjelica Huston, and other celebrities read from a new Dr. Seuss Collection.

The Atlantic gave us a visual history of literary references on The Simpsons; Boing Boing tells us a few million virtual monkeys have randomly created Shakespeare; and Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London announced details “of a festival that will see all 37 of William Shakespeare’s plays performed in 37 languages, from Urdu to Swahili, over six weeks in 2012.” The Guardian listed the ten best books that are based on songs, and NPR sang us a song about becoming a noun.

That’s it for this week! Remember, you can keep up with our blog by subscribing to the feed, following us on Twitter, or friending us on Facebook.

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