Language Blog Roundup: Friends, kill the apostrophe, James Franco

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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.

Ben Zimmer told us about the rhetoric of the Syrian conflict. Joshua Friedman at The Boston Globe claimed biz-speak is not the business world’s fault but rather is simply the “slang of the moment.”

At The American Scholar, Ralph Keyes explained why some neologisms stick and some don’t. We learned some new slang that those crazy kids online are using today, and about how rhythm may help with language learning.

At Language Log, Victor Mair reflected on the languages on Chinese banknotes, and Mark Liberman investigated a Dutch to English mistranslation.

The OxfordWords blog gave us some fun German idioms (they’re going like warm rolls!), and we as television addicts particularly enjoyed their post on the language of Friends. Meanwhile, io9 relayed the bizarre evolution of the word cyber.

At Lingua Franca, Lucy Ferriss discussed disruptive language; Alllan Metcalf revealed the story behind wah lah; Geoff Pullum looked at hostility over multilingualism; Anne Curzan recounted the history of the idiom, in one’s wheelhouse; and Ben Yagoda examined zeugmas at The New York Times.

Ben Zimmer traced the etymology of meh and WTF. James Harbeck taught us how to use the dash and stirred up some controversy by suggesting we kill off the apostrophe. Arika Okrent rounded up 11 common words with very specific meanings on food labels and 11 nouns that only have a plural form.

Kory Stamper delved into folk etymology. Mark Allen explained why there’s no such thing as “the dictionary.” Roy Peter Clark sang the praises of the short sentence. Neal Whitman gave us a linguistic tour of the best libfixes. Ben Schott and Mark Leibovich offered a fun glossary on Washington Words.

In naming news, a woman in Hawaii was told her name was too long for her ID, and GQ gave some advice on what not to name your offspring. Fritinancy looked at naming with numbers, and for Talk Like a Pirate Day, went on a treasure hunt for pirate-type brand names.

Fritinancy’s word of the week was BYOD, bring your own device, “a corporate policy that encourages or requires employees to bring their own mobile devices to the workplace and to use them to access company information.”

Word Spy spotted sharent, “a parent who shares too much information about his or her children”; kleptography, “the secret theft of information using a security hole deliberately built into a cryptographic system”; and vulgarity gap, “a disparity in the tolerance for vulgarity between generations or communities.”

The Dialect Blog expounded on the pronunciation of R in various languages and examined the semi-slur, Oriental.

The Wheel of Fortune became the Wheel of Misfortune with a contestant’s mispronunciation. In response to the hubbub surrounding James Franco on the cover of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, BookRiot suggested putting the actor on all book covers, much to our hilarity.

That’s it for this week!

[Photo: CC BY 2.0 by Darrren Foreman]