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.
We kick things off with the finance word of the week, clawback, which is (according to NPR) “the recovery of money which has been already paid to a person or company, typically because that payment should not have been made for legal (or occasionally moral) reasons.” Meanwhile, health care reform is clearly a BFD, and at the Boston Globe, Ben Zimmer explored the origin behind the Supreme Court’s parade of horribles.
At Language Log, Mark Liberman discussed the use of gambling language in politics; the evolution of the Higgs Boson particle; the because NOUN formation; and rounded up some linguistic magazine mock-ups. Victor Mair explored some pastry Chinglish and wordless traffic signs in China. At Lingua Franca, Geoff Pullum addressed some grammar panic; Allan Metcalf looked at destination as an adjective; Ben Yagoda asked if the English asked more questions and served up another big bowl of wrong.
At Macmillan Dictionary blog, Orin Hargraves used nouns attributively while Stan Carey discussed the many right ways of English language usage, and on his own blog, looked at distant compounds, the Mind is a Metaphor database, and how awkwardly to avoid split infinitives. Meanwhile, John McIntyre expressed his woes about teaching English.
Fritinancy suggested we verb, and for words of the week, spotted foie-kage, “a fee charged by a restaurant to prepare foie gras purchased elsewhere,” and preglimony, “financial support paid to a pregnant woman by the father of the unborn child.” Erin McKean’s weekly word selections included mutts, marketing bonds that “don’t belong to a particular breed”; duckeasies, restaurants “where diners can order foie gras using certain code words”; derecho, a type of storm; and Kubb, a Scandinavian lawn game.
Sesquiotica posted on melisma, boson, and cormorant. The Virtual Linguist examined the food phrase Adam and Eve on raft; words coined by English writer Fanny Burney; pub synonyms; and onymous words. The Dialect Blog wondered where aye went; how George Washington spoke; and about the inanimate guy in American dialects. Meanwhile, we enjoyed the idea of being told in a New York accent when to cross the street.
This week we also learned that “proper” English is a matter of fashion; why words get cut from the dictionary; 10 weird rules for the naming of planets; and that a whole slew of English words actually came from India. We loved this love story about semicolons, these visual interpretations of unusual words, these usable fictional alphabets, and that researchers at Northwestern University invented a language inspired by Stephen Colbert.
We guffawed over these product names that mean unfortunate things in other languages, and would pay good money to see this spelling bee movie. We were glad to see this empty Walmart store put to good use, and that Hermione Granger and other literary characters didn’t keep their original names (Pansy O’Hara just doesn’t have the same ring).
That’s it for this week!