It’s Friday and you know what that means: it’s time for our weekly language blog roundup, in which we bring you the highlights from our favorite language blogs and the latest in word news.
Monday was E.B. White’s birthday, and Open Culture celebrated with this sweet, sad animated film based on one of White’s short stories. Another famous author in the news this week was Jane Austen, whose manuscript for an unpublished novel, The Watsons, sold for $1.6 million (Sir Naipaul, any comments?).
This week we learned that English is, among other things, a shameless whore and a magpie, “forever picking up shiny things.” We learned of some culture-bound syndromes like amok and old hag syndrome; the three most common uses of irony; and nine words we’re probably confusing with other words.
We considered the douchebag, the difference between tot moms and baby mamas, and mouth-filled speech. We looked at some irritating Americanisms, pictures of Manhattanhenge, and the high cost of spelling mistakes.
The Macmillan Dictionary Blog provided guidance on the British Library’s dialectal wordbank, and told us about “not exactly” as a polite-ism in British conversation. The Economist’s language blog Johnson was surprised the NSA style guide was sort of hippie-ish, and assured us that being an antichrist isn’t the same as being the devil.
The Virtual Linguist told us about glamour and it girls, while Dan Jurafsky at The Language of Food gave us a history and language lesson on ice cream. Stan Carey posted about comic book grammar and canine comprehension, while Arnold Zwicky wrote about the “indecency” of the slut and the uterus, and what exactly is the plural of portmanteau (psst, it’s portmanteaus).
Motivated Grammar wondered is it +1’d or +1ed (or perhaps we should call the whole thing off), while Word Spy spotted elderburbia, “suburbs that have a predominantly elderly population,” and singlism, “workplace discrimination against employees who are single; the negative stereotyping of single people.”
The Dialect Blog discussed the hippie dialect (far out, man!); the Ocracoke brogue of the remote islands off of North Carolina, “sometimes mentioned as one of the ‘last living relatives’ of Elizabethan or Early Modern English”; the three types of Australian accents; and Jamaican patois and the English schwa. Literal-Minded explored the ordering of adjectives, while K International mused on the translation of foreign store signage, teaching language with Twitter, and a perhaps more natural way of speaking with cars (KITT, can you hear me?).
Finally, we’d like to end this week’s roundup with this lovely video about a secret bookstore in New York.