The Guardian Vs The Guardians of Grammar

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The Guardian has been publishing some great stuff lately. Today they posted this article on spurious grammar rules. Within the piece, there is a link to Mona Chalabi’s excellent video on the impact of so-called grammar snobbery on everyone else. In their words:

Why is it that some people feel proud to be called grammar snobs? Mona Chalabi argues that those who correct others’ language are clinging to conventions that are unimportant. She says grammar snobbery is often used to silence those who have less of a voice in society.

The Demonisation of Denominalisation

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In the fantastic Jstor Daily article ‘Do you even language bro? Understanding why nouns become verbs.’ Chi Luu provides us with a brief history of the Internet art forms of ‘verbing’.
The opening paragraph set the tone for the article beautifully:

Ah, the topsy-turvy world of language innovation, where the lion lies down with the lamb, nouns suddenly become verbs, and “verbing weirds language.” Consider popular internet memes like “Let me librarian that for you” and “Do you even science, bro?” in which “librarian” and “science” are nouns weirdly disguised as verbs. So is this a playful new linguistic construction or is it time to roll our eyes at the internet, again?

App apropos accent

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Just how much have Englsh accents changed in the last 50 years? Linguists from Cambridge, Bern and Zurich universities teamed up to develop an app that compares the way that various regions of England have retained their local accent. ‘English Dialects’ also aims to pinpoint your regional accent based on your responses to 26 phonological and dialectical questions, as well as to gather more current data on regional differences in accent and dialect.
The app by Adrian Leerman has its limitations. Due to the comparisons to studies which took place in England over 50 years ago, it completely failed to identify my north Cardiff accent, suggesting that I was from Little Bently, Outwell or Stoke, all in the East of England and places I have never visited (or heard of in the case of the first two).
Anyway, the app is a fun way to contribute to further data collection on changes in the English accent, it just a shame that it’s limited to older data that is exclusively from England. Particularly as recent studies indicate that it is that Glaswegian accent that has changed the least in the last 100 years.

Censors and Warriors

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Each January, linguists at Lake Superior State University release a list of words that they hate. Although this uppish lark is in it’s 41st cycle, it seems that this year’s list has piqued the imagination of the internetterati.  To cover ground as quickly as possible, take a look at this Vine video thingy from AOL to see some of the offending words.
The problem is that language is dynamic, rich, broad and capricious, and that is what fascinates linguists. Why would we try to stifle all of these these qualities, simply because our own personal tastes?
Fortunately, Wayne State University have made efforts to celebrate the diversity of the English language with their Word Warriors list. This list attempts to reintroduce words that have fallen from favour or common use. A much more egalitarian way to treat language and certainly more in line with the dynamism of AmE.

Emoji will not hurt you, your language or your culture

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Today the Internet rippled with prophecies of doom for the English language. Today, the OED awarded an emoji as the word of the year.
Well, that’s it! From here on in, we will only be able to communicate using emoji; the fastest growing language. And they (they?) will probably start charging a subscription fee to use it, further casting us impoverished serfs of the tech companies into e-dependency.
Or maybe everything will be fine, and it’s just a bit of a playful gimmick on the part of middle England’s lexicographers.
In this article, John Mcwhorter at Columbia University discusses the future of languages in light of the technological advances of our time. At times, Mcwhorter echoes Graddol in his text The Future of English as well as examining the more recent developments in the relationship between language and technology.
He also favours the use of emoticons for the sake of brevity in conveying point and does not seem offended by their very existence. Once again, let’s hope that language and symbols can continue to coexist, as they have for millennia.

The international baby code conspiracy

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I have often asked groups of students what their very young siblings or children’s first word were. They are often shocked to find that, regardless of their first language, these babies are all saying words derivative of ‘mama’ and ‘papa’ as their first utterances.
What are all these babies doing? Where does this common language come from? Latin? Greek?
No, it comes out of babies. John McWhorter explains in this article originally published in the Atlantic.