Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The recently announced words of the year

There are other groups that do this, too, but here is a sampling:

From the American Dialect Society: App

From the press release:

"App has been around for ages, but with millions of dollars of marketing muscle
behind the slogan ‘There’s an app for that,’ plus the arrival of ‘app stores’ for a wide
spectrum of operating systems for phones and computers, app really exploded in the last 12
months,” (Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the
American Dialect Society and executive producer of VisualThesaurus.com) said. “One of the most convincing arguments from the voting floor was from a woman who said that even her grandmother had heard of it.”
Word of the Year is interpreted in its broader sense as “vocabulary item”—not just
words but phrases. The words or phrases do not have to be brand-new, but they have to be
newly prominent or notable in the past year, in the manner of Time magazine’s Person of
the Year.

From the Global Language Monitor: Spillcam

"The BP Spillcam instantly beamed the immensity of the Gulf Spill around the world to the dismay of environmentalists, BP’s PR staff and the President."

From Urban Dictionary: Gate Rape

"The TSA airport screening procedure.
My sister got gate raped at LAX."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Message in bottle story

Courtesy of the Associated Press

Here is a link to one of the many versions of this story spread throughout the country via the Associated Press.

See if you can decode it yourself, via the Caesar cipher.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

David Sedaris' piece on language across cultures

This commentary, "Six to Eight Black Men," was written originally for Esquire magazine. Here is what is billed as David Sedaris' old MySpace page and an audio version, with Sedaris reading the work.

Language / translation resources

There is a list of helpful web sites on this class blog, in the right-hand column. But here are two more key sources of information about languages that might be helpful:

Ethnologue - encyclopedic source on the 6,909 languages of the world

Foundation for Endangered Languages manifesto -- an FAQ about languages in the world today

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent

Recently ran across this documentary, which has a lot of fascinating insights into language.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Blood libel? ...

Listen carefully to the language use in this response to the recent Arizona assassinations:

Sarah Palin: "America's Enduring Strength" from Sarah Palin on Vimeo.

And compare to this:

And this:

And this piece on the history of the phrase "blood libel" from Salon.com

And this editorial from the Washington Times, which adds "pogrom" to the mix.