Tag Archives | Language

Ignorant Sarah Palin Stumbles Into Creating ‘Word Of The Year’

Whatever your feelings about Sarah Palin, you have to admit that she certainly seems to know how to fail upwards. Mock her all you like for using the non-word “refudiate,” but she’s having the last laugh as it now becomes the New Oxford American Dictionary’s ‘Word of the Year.” Nick Bilton reports in his Bits blog for the New York Times:
palin tweet

At the start of the year the word “refudiate” didn’t exist. In mid-July Sarah Palin, Alaska’s former governor, changed that when she used the word in a Twitter message, somehow mashing up “refute” and “repudiate,” while trying to say something like “reject.”

Now refudiate has been named the word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary, published by the Oxford University Press, beating out a number of other locutions — many technology-related — that have spread through the language and the Web over the past year.

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New Language Discovered In India

Cultures about to be lost, are still being found. The new language discovered in India, Koro, leaves more questions than answers. From Discovery News:
A team of linguists announced Tuesday that they have discovered a new and unique language, called Koro, in northeastern India, but immediately warned that it was highly endangered. Only around 800 people are believed to speak the Tibeto-Burman language, and few of them are under the age of 20, according to the researchers who discovered Koro during an expedition as part of National Geographic's "Enduring Voices" project. The language, they said, has never been written down.
Continues at Discovery News ... From National Geographic:
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Oxford English Dictionary Includes ‘Web Lingo’

The Oxford English Dictionary is keeping up with the times, integrating “web slang” into the dictionary. Can’t kids just these slang words up online? CNN reports:

Are years of e-mails, text messaging and status updates finally affecting the written word?

#nokidding.

The venerable Oxford American Dictionary has added a ginormous (adj., not included) list of words inspired by the interweb (noun, included).

The next time you look up a word, expect to see lots of abbreviations, webspeak and casual slang.

The New Oxford American Dictionary has added cultural slang in the past, but never as aggressively as it has in the latest edition.

Its big brother, the less frequently updated Oxford English Dictionary, is also going through major changes.

Continues at CNN

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How to Respect Sex Workers

Monica Shores on Alternet writes a great short piece with links for further research on how to respect sex workers:

Most women have strong feelings about the sex industry, be they for or against. (And many, of course, remain undecided.) When dealing with such an emotionally volatile topic, it’s easy to inadvertently silence or even insult sex workers themselves. (As a participant in sex worker activism for the past four years, I’ve seen that in action and on the page.) There’s a way to debate commercial sex while respecting the industry’s laborers. Here are some suggestions:

1) Don’t diminish or mock sex workers’ agency. When discussing a person coerced or forced into sex work, a sensitive recognition of the violation they’ve suffered is definitely in order. However, it’s important to let individuals themselves make this distinction, rather than automatically assigning them a label that indicates lack of agency. For instance, referring to all sex workers as “prostituted” or “used” can be violating in and of itself if the person identifies their work as a free choice.

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DEA Hiring Ebonics Translators

US-DrugEnforcementAdministration-SealIn the ‘you can’t make this stuff up’ category, via CNN:

Wanted by the Drug Enforcement Administration: Ebonics translators.

It might sound like a punch line, as “Ebonics” — the common name for what linguists call African-American English — has long been the butt of jokes, as well as the subject of controversy.

But the agency is serious about needing nine people to translate conversations picked up on wiretaps during investigations, Special Agent Michael Sanders said Tuesday. A solicitation was sent to contractors as part of a request to companies to provide hundreds of translators in 114 languages.

“DEA’s position is, it’s a language form we have a need for,” Sanders said. “I think it’s a language form that DEA recognizes a need to have someone versed in to conduct investigations.”

The translators, being hired in the agency’s Southeast Region — which includes Atlanta, Georgia; Washington; New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; and the Caribbean — would listen to wiretaps, translate what was said and be able to testify in court if necessary, he said.

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Does Language Shape Culture?

New cognitive research suggests that language profoundly influences the way people see the world. Lera Boroditsky reports for the Wall Street Journal:

Do the languages we speak shape the way we think? Do they merely express thoughts, or do the structures in languages (without our knowledge or consent) shape the very thoughts we wish to express?

Take “Humpty Dumpty sat on a…” Even this snippet of a nursery rhyme reveals how much languages can differ from one another. In English, we have to mark the verb for tense; in this case, we say “sat” rather than “sit.” In Indonesian you need not (in fact, you can’t) change the verb to mark tense.

In Russian, you would have to mark tense and also gender, changing the verb if Mrs. Dumpty did the sitting. You would also have to decide if the sitting event was completed or not. If our ovoid hero sat on the wall for the entire time he was meant to, it would be a different form of the verb than if, say, he had a great fall.

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Migraine Leaves British Woman Speaking with Chinese Accent (Video)

Weird. Never heard of Foreign Accent Syndrome before. Via the Telegraph:
A British woman who suffers chronic migraines was struck by such a severe headache it left her talking in a Chinese accent. Sarah Colwill used to speak with a broad West Country accent. She is thought to have sustained brain damage during her last migraine which left her with Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) — an extremely rare condition which causes speech to change.
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How Frank Luntz Led Health Care ‘Reform’ Opposition

The reason I am sharing this is not because I think the so-called health care "reform" that passed actually qualified as such, but to point out one of the maestros (or Dark Lord of the Sith, depending on your take) behind the scenes of the opposition to such legislation. Know who Frank Luntz is. He manages to influence the public discourse in the United States, on a regular basis: P.S. It took the Democrats until April 15th to come up with this video? And you wonder why it took over a year to pass bullshit "reform"...
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