This Week’s Language Blog Roundup

It’s that time once again when we bring you the highlights from our favorite language blogs and the latest in word news.

The Economist’s language blog Johnson rang in the Fourth with American accents and Accigone, the accent eradicator, while the Dialect Blog provided British accent samples instead.  At Language Log, Mark Liberman took a look at things that aren’t what they are, namely Google’s recent bids for Nortel patents (“pi” and “the distance between the earth and the sun” are just a couple of examples); some verbal illusions (no one is too busy to read this post, right?); and some variations on the French oh la la.

Language Corner at the Columbia Journalism Review took issue with using words such as gonna and wanna to convey dialect, while The Economist explored the diverse world of voiceovers and dubbing in the Arab film industry, from “Syrian musalsalaat, or soap operas,” to Gulf Arabic for “dramas from India and its neighbours.”

In endangered languages, it appears that as elders die off, fluency in Maori is diminishing, even as the number of Maori speakers increases, while according to K International, the Oaxca, an indigenous people of Mexico, are rethinking their strategy in maintaining their language.

K International also took a look at one foundation is using technology to preserve languages, as well as some unlikely language preservationists – teenagers, namely those in southern Chile who have been “posting videos on YouTube of themselves rapping in a mixture of Spanish and Huilliche, an indigenous language with only about 2,000 speakers,” as well as teens texting in regional and indigenous languages in the Philippines (as mentioned in our last post) and Mexico.  Another online project gives a home to dying languages, while social networking may give Welsh a new lease on life.

Johnson also mused on color naming, while Lynneguist at Separated By a Common Language discussed making suggestions in different cultures.  Arnold Zwicky had fun with telephon- combining words; some porn-manteaus; and mishearing Navy SEALs as baby seals.  Headsup: The Blog asserted that serve and serve up cannot be used interchangeably, at least where people are concerned.

The Virtual Linguist blogged about naturists’ – or nudists’ – slang (for instance, “cotton-tails. . .are people with white bottoms ie non-naturists, or, at the very least, recent converts to naturism”); a several hundred year old term for prostitute; and a couple of slang terms for money.  And the Dialect Blog recounted the evolution of the word, douchebag.

This week we also learned of a chimp who recognizes synthetic speech; a scholar who is studying how the concept of time differs across languages; and that the prolific British Library is building a database of Britain’s most obscure words. Some of our favorites?  Dimpsy, “half light, just turning dark,” gurtlush, “the best,” and tittermatorter, “seesaw”.  We also found out that the third edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction will be available later this year online for free, and then our heads  exploded with excitement.

That’s it from here! Till next week, adios, au revior, aufweidersehn!

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