unspeakable

Of all the very objectionable things that modern business has done to society, the damage they are wreaking on our language is perhaps the most objectionable.  Here is a recent review of an “updated” version of the Dale Carnegie classic that takes you through some of the horrors of MBA speak. From The New York [...]

Banned!

The top 100 banned phrases and words as understood by Independent journalist John Rentoul. Below is the last ten, the top ninety are here –

90. Key (adjective). Especially keynote speech.
91. Enough already.
92. Who knew?
93. Epic fail.
94. See what I/he/she did there?
95. Not so much.
96. Beleaguered, except of a city, town or fort with turrets.
97. Rolling [...]

Ni Hao

As a very poor student of languages, I found this article about someone trying to learn basic conversational Mandarin in two days, instructive. From The Guardian
“In theory,” says language teacher Paul Noble, forming a steeple with his fingers in true professorial style, “you should learn Chinese today and tomorrow quicker than anyone has ever learned it on [...]

Not a word….

I’m sure there’s a sitcom idea in here somewhere….
From The Guardian

The language of Ayapaneco has been spoken in the land now known asMexico for centuries. It has survived the Spanish conquest, seen off wars, revolutions, famines and floods. But now, like so many other indigenous languages, it’s at risk of extinction.
There are just two people [...]

learning how we learn…

This TED video is amazing on so many levels, but principally for the intensely comprehensive accumulation of data and its subsequent analysis. And the subject? How a child learns language. But what’s really interesting is when they apply these same techniques to the broad discourse of television and social media.

Language games

From The Boston Globe
When someone says “It’s not about the money, but…”, it’s almost always about the money. If you hear “It really doesn’t matter to me, but…”, odds are it does matter, and quite a bit. Someone who begins a sentence with “Confidentially” is nearly always betraying a confidence; someone who starts out “Frankly,” [...]

The poetry of food

This Portugese bilingual menu must surely have had some intelligence behind its design and not just the elegant accident of the google translation service.  Either way, it is all gold, make way for “Clams in the style of the ever fighting duck”!

language games

Wonderful article from  the Wall Street Journal on the nature of language….
Of course, just because people talk differently doesn’t necessarily mean they think differently. In the past decade, cognitive scientists have begun to measure not just how people talk, but also how they think, asking whether our understanding of even such fundamental [...]

I could care less?

by any other name…

The romantic side of familiar words | Language Log |
The fact is, then, that a large proportion of these “most beautiful English words” that aesthetes like to cite owe their claim to beauty entirely on a fancied resemblance to the words of other languages, rather than any inherent “English” phonaesthetic virtues. To show how great [...]

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