Archive for the ‘English’ Category


Posted on January 19th, 2013by jake
In Accents, Education, English | Leave a Comment »

Sacred Heart Primary School in Middlesbrough, England has made the news because of the headteachers efforts to ensure standard English is spoken by her pupils. A letter has been sent home to parents asking for their support in ensuring children say “work” instead of “werk” and do nor pluralise “you” by saying “yous”.

Headteacher Carol Walker said she wanted to teach standard English, not to remove the Teesside accent.

Of course many pronunciations like “werk” and grammatical anomalies such as pluralising “you” are signifiers of a regional dialect and go hand in hand with the accent. It would appear that the parents of the Sacred Heart Primarty Schools pupils are backing the headmaster however, with parents responses being “”really positive” with no “negative reaction” at all.” The Headteacher was quoted as saying:

“I am not asking children to deny where they come from. I am saying to them there are certain situations where they need to be able to use standard English.”

The BBC obtained a copy of the letter sent to parents and printed the list of offending words.

Head teacher’s language list

  • I done that – I have done that or I did that
  • I seen that – I have seen that or I saw that
  • Yous – The word you is never a plural
  • “School finishes at free fifteen” – “School finishes at three fifteen”
  • Gizit ere – Please give me it
  • I dunno – I don’t know
  • It’s nowt – It’s nothing
  • Letta, butta – Letter, butter
  • Your – Your late should be you’re late
  • Werk, shert – I will wear my shirt for work
  • He was sat there – He was sitting there

via: The BBC

The Words of 2012

Posted on December 22nd, 2012by jake
In English, Slang, Words | Leave a Comment »

Another year passing means another mountain of neologisms. Whilst many will be relegated to the linguistic scrap heap a few no doubt will latch onto our vocabularies for years to come. The New York Times has compiled a list of the clever, the witty and the just plain ridiculous, of which I thought I’d share a few.

FRANKENSTORM The storm that hit the East Coast in October, a few days before Halloween.

GANGNAM STYLE The manner and attitude ascribed to the affluent Gangnam District of Seoul, South Korea. This term came to the attention of the world when the Korean pop star PSY released the song and video “Gangnam Style.” His signature “galloping pony ride” dance was the macarena of 2012.

NOMOPHOBIA Fear of losing or forgetting one’s mobile phone, or of being outside of the phone’s signal area. From no more (phone|phobia).

YOLO An acronym for “You Only Live Once.” Used as an interjection when someone is considering doing something risky or ill-advised. The expression took off this year after the hip-hop star Drake’s song “The Motto” became a hit in 2011.

I’m far from being a linguistic purist but is this the best we could do? Scrap what I said earlier. Hopefully when 2013 arrives we will all suffer a collective bout of amnesia and will never utter any of these words ever, ever again. What was your word of 2012?

via: NYT

English Online

Posted on December 14th, 2012by jake
In English, Language acquisition | Leave a Comment »

The BBC have questioned how internet users are changing the English language. Articles about the internet changing the way we use language are a dime a dozen but this article includes some interesting facts. For instance ‘people who speak English as a second language already outnumber native speakers.’ Using this information we can question what effect these many variations of the English language will have upon native English speakers.

“The internet enfranchises people who are not native speakers to use English in significant and meaningful ways,” says Naomi Baron, professor of linguistics at American University in Washington DC.

Users of Facebook already socialise in a number of different “Englishes” including Indian English, or Hinglish, Spanglish (Spanish English) and Konglish (Korean English). While these variations have long existed within individual cultures, they’re now expanding and comingling online.

All of these different versions of English come together within the melting pot of the internet and this could lead to a universal English pidgin.

“Most people actually speak multiple languages – it’s less common to only speak one,” says Mr Munro. “English has taken its place as the world’s lingua franca, but it’s not pushing out other languages.”

Instead, other languages are pushing their way into English, and in the process creating something new.

via: BBC News

Web Language

Posted on November 25th, 2012by jake
In Chinese, English, Technology | Leave a Comment »

According to TechInAsia 24% of web content is now written in Chinese.

At the end of 2011, 27 percent of web content was in English, while 24 percent was in Chinese. Despite that, the graphic’s creators, the translation management platform Smartling, lament that the web is still too monolingual, with “56 percent of online content [being] English-only.” It calls for a more multilingual approach to the web.

Considering that North America and Europe account for 26% of web users whereas Asia accounts for 45% it is quite surprising that the statistic for Chinese web content is not higher. In the year 2000 39% of web content was written in English which shows a dramatic reduction to only 27% in 2011. In 2000 only 9% of web content was in Chinese now soaring to 24%. From these statistics it is quite likely that Chinese will become the majority language of the web, and it is quite likely to happen soon. The statistics offered in the article were complied by Smartling who also offer the astounding statistic that ‘China added more internet users in three years than exist in the U.S.’.

[via: TechInAsia]


Posted on November 10th, 2012by jake
In English, Invented languages | Leave a Comment »

When I was younger my friends and I used a language called gibberish to conduct secret conversations. I remember when I first attempted to speak it my tongue was tied and it seemed as if I would never be able to speak at the pace my friends could. After a little bit of practice I could waffle away at a fast pace for hours without even thinking about it.

Gibberish has very simple rules yet is very difficult to decipher if you do not know them. For single syllable words the rules are very simple. The first sound of the word is followed by an uther, and the second part begins with a g. For example, car would be cuther gar. Tree would be truther gee. Coin would be cuther goin. As each syllable is treated as it’s own word in Gibberish two syllable words are split in two. Money would be Muther gun uther gee. Sister would be Suther gis tuther ger, and so on. Now you know the rules try to decipher the word below.

Chruther gist muther gas

Compulsory Language Learning

Posted on October 30th, 2012by jake
In Culture, Education, English, Grammar | Leave a Comment »

The British government plans to change the education system making it compulsory for children to learn a language in school from the age of seven. This proposal has been put forward because of the decline in British students choosing to learn another language. ‘In 2010, 43% of GCSE pupils were entered for a language, down from a peak of 75% in 2002.’ Along with an emphasis being placed on foreign languages the government intends to improve British children’s grasp of the English language. Specific focus will be placed on grammar as well as ‘a systematic approach to the teaching of phonics – the sounds of letters and groups of letters – would be advocated to help pupils to become fluent readers and good spellers…’

I think that it is important for Britain to advocate language learning from a young age. In many jobs fluency in another language not only makes you stand out from the crowd but is also becoming a necessity to be employed in the field. Britain needs to make language learning an attractive prospect to the younger generation or else it risks being left behind in an increasingly globalised world.

Quotes via the BBC Website.


Posted on October 23rd, 2012by jake
In Culture, English, Uncategorized, Welsh, Words | Leave a Comment »

I didn’t think growing up in Wales had influenced my speech until I moved to England. My entire family is English but many Wenglish (Welsh-English) words have made their way into my vocabulary. I remember during a conversation with my English housemates describing how a cat had ‘scrammed’ me. A perplexed look greeted me after using the word ‘scrammed’. ‘What do you mean scrammed?’ they asked, kindly offering the word ‘scratched’ as an alternative after I made the hand gesture of a cats claw. For me scratched did not sufficiently describe what I wanted to say. A scratch is a minimal injury, a mere surface wound inflicted by a single claw. Scrammed is more violent, it implies malicious intent, brute force and many claws dragging down. I had previously thought that scrammed was a standard English word and it was confusing to me that other people had no idea what it meant.

Many differences in Wenglish can be observed in sentence structures. When answering a phone call if you wanted to ask the caller where they are, many Welsh people would say ‘Where you to?’ instead of ‘Where are you?’. If the caller wanted to tell you that they will be with you shortly they might say ‘I’ll be there now, in a minute’ offering you two conflicting answers. Wenglish quirks often stem from additional superfluous words being used to express a simple statement. An example of this is instead of saying ‘I love you’ a Welsh person might say ‘I loves you I do’. Before moving to England these statements were standard English in my mind. Although most Wenglish words and phrases have now been erased from my vocabulary, I do smile whenever I’m back in Wales and hear somebody on their phone asking ‘Oh, where you to?’.

Assiduous, Perfidious and Querulous

Posted on October 22nd, 2012by jake
In Education, English, Hints and Tips, Words | Leave a Comment »

I came across a fun word game on Word Dynamo that is intended for American students studying for their SATs. As I read English at university I fancied my chances of attaining a perfect score but a few words managed to stump me. I managed to get 44/47 on the quiz and I thought I would include the words that eluded me and their definitions below.

Assiduous – Showing great care and perseverance.

Perfidious – Deceitful and untrustworthy.

Querulous – Complaining in a petulant or whining manner.

Online word games are a fantastic way to enhance your vocabulary and I am going to try and commit these words to memory so I can use them in day to day speech. The quiz I completed can be found HERE. Why not give it a go and see i you can beat my score.

Redefining Words

Posted on October 17th, 2012by jake
In English, Words | Leave a Comment »

You wouldn’t imagine the fusty world of dictionaries could spark much controversy but in Australia the definition of the word misogyny has done just that. Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has come under fire for supposedly misusing the word misogyny when critiquing the leader of the opposition. Prompted by this incident, one of Australia’s most respected dictionaries, the Macquarie Dictionary, has decided to update it’s definition of the word. From solely meaning a person that hates women the Macquarie Dictionary has decided to also include it’s common usage meaning “entrenched prejudice against women”.

“Since the 1980s, misogyny has come to be used as a synonym for sexism, a synonym with bite, but nevertheless with the meaning of entrenched prejudice against women rather than pathological hatred,” [Sue Butler, editor of the Macquarie Dictionary] said in a statement.

While the Oxford English Dictionary had reworded its definition a decade ago, staff at the Macquarie had been alerted to the issue only in the aftermath of Gillard’s extraordinary speech in parliament, she said. “Perhaps as dictionary editors we should have noticed this before it was so rudely thrust in front of us as something that we’d overlooked,” Butler told the Associated Press.

[Source – The Guardian]

This story is fascinating to me because it shows how much power dictionary makers have. Redefining a word or merely adding another usage to it’s meaning can have large scale consequences. Amazingly a small alteration of the word misogyny in one dictionary is causing a political firestorm in Australia today.


Posted on October 16th, 2012by jake
In English, Slang | Leave a Comment »

Acronyms are found everywhere in the English language. Most people know what VIP (Very Important Person), SOS (Save Our Souls) and UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) stand for. Some acronyms no longer require knowledge of what the letters actually stand for though, as they have become words in their own right. SCUBA for instance, as in scuba diving, is an acronym standing for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Similarly the word radar stands for Radio Detection, and Ranging, and laser began as an acronym meaning Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

The amount of acronyms used in everyday speech has increased in modern times because of technology like mobile phones and the internet. LOL (Laugh Out Loud) is perhaps the most well known of all ‘text speak’ acronyms. Below is a handy list I’ve compiled of ‘text speak’ acronyms so when your coworker says, LOL you don’t mistake their appreciation of your hilarity for a declaration of love (Lots Of Love).

BRB – Be Right Back

GTG – Got To Go

FYI – For Your Information

TMI – Too Much Information

TTYL – Talk To You Later

BTW – By The Way

TYVM – Thank You Very Much