This Week’s Language Blog Roundup

by Angela Tung on February 10, 2012

Welcome to this week’s Language Blog Roundup, in which we bring you the highlights from our favorite language blogs and the latest in word news and culture.

Erin McKean started off the week with a look at how the Super Bowl got its name. For Fashion Week, Erin spoke with The Fashion Spot about fashion jargon, and appeared on The Today Show to talk about the language around men’s grooming and fashion (“There’s meggings, which are leggings for men, kind of ill-advised”). Meanwhile, Mark Peters at the OUP Blog explored denim word blends.

This week also marked the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens. Ben Zimmer wrote about how Dickens helped shape the English lexicon; Jonathan Green discussed Dickens and slang; Letters of Note gave us a few lovely letters from the prolific author; and Time Out New York listed eight Dickensian things you might not know.

In politics, John McWhorter spoke with NPR about why bilingualism is considered a political liability, and Johnson examined the claim that President Obama’s State of the Union address was too simplistic.

At Language Log, Geoff Pullum discussed some faulty noun choices while Mark Liberman assessed the state of the phrase each other. Victor Mair examined the effect of the retroflex final -r on allegro, or abbreviated, Mandarin; the annals of Chinglish in airports; mistaken mango (or is it bango?); and a dog of a insult.

Ben Zimmer explored the Boston accent, while Dialect Blog considered the Canadian accent, constructed dialects, and nasal vowels. Meanwhile, the Texas twang may be disappearing. In British versus American English, Lynneguist parsed the AmE and BrE differences of the word graft while BBC listed five American expressions the British don’t understand (in that case, bite me).

At Macmillan Dictionary Blog, Orin Hargraves and Stan Carey had some fun with new words, while Michael Rundell explained how words get into the dictionary. On his own blog, Mr. Carey told us about another nuance of the word till and that we might could dig some multiple modals. Kory Stamper deliberated on irregardless and the gray areas of English, while Jan Freeman considered bring versus take.

Fritinancy posted about some slutty – in a good way – brand names, and in words of the week, cited skijoring, “cross-country skiing with the assistance of dogs,” and bear claw, “a large sweet pastry shaped like a bear’s paw.” Erin McKean noticed Xoloitzcuintli, the national dog of Mexico; flexitarians, vegetarians who sometimes eat meat; kaiseki, an exquisite multi-course Japanese meal; and socialbots, “sophisticated Twitter bots.”

The Word Spy spotted bashtag, “the use of a corporation’s Twitter hashtag to bash the company’s products”; cyberflaneur, “a person who surfs the web with no purpose beyond curiosity and inquisitiveness”; and slacklining, “a sport that involves walking or balancing on a slack nylon webbing suspended between two points,” as demonstrated by “that guy in a toga bouncing crazily on a rope next to Madonna” during Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show.

The Virtual Linguist discussed bus drivers banned from calling passengers “babe”; the origins of the word hoopla; and the differences between ought, nought, and aught. Arnold Zwicky piled on some noun pile examples, while Arrant Pedantry considered comprised of fail. Seqsuiotica explored the word sketchy; some noisome usage; and a wordy realm. Lists of Note listed nonsense words from Roald Dahl, names for a new car from poet Marianne Moore (Ford went with their own idea, Edsel), and Thomas Edison’s possible names for the phonograph (we’re partial to glottophone).

We learned about pearl clutching; the misuse of literally; and the stories behind publishers’ animal logos. We found out why words with multiple meanings make language more efficient, and that African language clicks are also common in English. We agreed with Forbes that business jargon is pretty annoying, learned a thing or two about drug slang, and are trying to work NSA lingo into our everyday conversation (“Hey desk rats, no slipping and sliding!”).

We thought we might be suffering from Hogwarts headache; have experienced a few of these laws named for writers (our favorite: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”); and hoped that Etymology-Man would come to our rescue if we ever ran into word trouble. Finally, we wanted to book an around-the-world flight to visit these incredible bookstores, and agree there are some things Calvin and Hobbes have said better than anyone.

That’s it for this week!

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