This Week’s Language Blog Roundup

It’s hot, it’s Friday, and chances are you don’t feel like working. So take a few minutes and read our language blog roundup, in which we bring you the week’s highlights from our favorite language blogs and the latest in word news.

Ben Zimmer returned to The New York Times this week with a piece about the computational analysis of the jargon of novels and other fiction texts, as well as a roundup of the various linguistic analysis tools available.

Mr. Zimmer also wrote about the +1 paradigm while Mark Liberman at Language Log pointed out Google +’s singular their issue and Stan Carey discussed the problems with pronouns in general.  Meanwhile, a different PloS One offered an interesting academic paper, Swearing, Euphemisms, and Linguistic Relativity.

Perhaps some swearing was done during the still-continuing debate over “irritating” Americanisms.  Lynneguist posted part three of her reaction; Motivated Grammar was outraged over the outrage over “I’m good”; and even The New Yorker got in on the action with a British point of view.

Peeving against language peevers continued with David Crystal’s post on Marley and Me versus Marley and I.  John E. McIntyre had a word about restive, dictionaries, the Myths of the Golden Age and Ideal English, and the modern meaning of transpire versus its original Latin parts (trans-, across, plus –spire, breathe), while Robert Lane Greene at Johnson gave his two cents with a post about etymological fallacy, stating that a “word need not mean exactly what its Greek and Latin roots once literally meant.”

In the news, Language Log noticed Satan sandwich (want Lucifer fries with that?) and the oxymoron of the week, divided consensus, while Michael Rundell at Macmillan Dictionary blog questioned Ruport Murdoch’s apology (or fauxpology?).

Remember that row over speaking Welsh, or not speaking in Welsh, in a Welsh-speaking village pub?  Well, the pro-Welsh fight continues with “proposals to make Welsh and English the official languages of the Welsh assembly” and a new bill requiring that the assembly “publish a bilingual services scheme.”  In Alaska “Tlingit speakers and educators are fighting to keep” that indigenous language alive, while “along the Atlantic coastal plains of South Carolina and Georgia,” Gullah and other non-English native languages threaten to disappear.  In the UK, immigrants may lose access to English classes due to budget cuts, while in New York City, a multi-media artist has undertaken the experiment of teaching English at the laundromat.

Grammarphobia parsed out the difference between yeah, yea, and yay, and Stan Carey explained that, which, who, and whomDialect Blog dialogued on the General American English accent, and when price and prize don’t rhyme.  Lynneguist blogged on a Ben Zimmer-suggested topic, nous, used in British-English to mean “common sense, practical intelligence,” and some American-English equivalents (gumption, horse sense, the sense God gave. . .).

Word Spy spied silent soccer, “a form of soccer in which spectators are not allowed to yell, cheer, or coach from the sidelines,” and juvenoia, “the baseless and exaggerated fear that the Internet and current social trends are having negative effects on children.”  Lexiophiles pondered the most recognized word in the world (ok?) while The Baby Name Wizard took a linguistic approach to the changing trends in girls’ names. The NYT Sunday Book Review served up 12 favorite snacks of famous authors while Publishers’ Weekly shared the 12 weirdest author deaths (look out for that eagle! I mean, that turtle! look out for that eagle and that turtle!).

Motivated Grammar unveiled SeeTweet, a way to geographically map Twitter search terms (try it, it’s fun!), and Mighty Red Pen alerted us about some wonderfully geeky T-shirts from Arrant Pedantry.

Finally, poet Charles Simic mused on the lost art of postcard writing:

unlike letters, cards require a verbal concision that can rise to high level of eloquence: brief and heart-breaking glimpses into someone’s existence, in addition to countless amusing and well-told anecdotes.

So if you’re on vacation, take a few minutes and send your friends a postcard.  Who knows, it may end up as a lost bookmark.

[And a brief plug for Wordnik-related language news — if you (or your favorite humanzee) missed our Words of the Week in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, you can catch up with them here.]

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