English language

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Oxford English Dictionary Quietly Adds Tamil Slang 'Aiyo'

'The OED has admitted a rare word of power into its pages'

(Newser) - In the latest quarterly update of the Oxford English Dictionary, there was great rejoicing when, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl's birth, words such as "splendiferous" and "human bean" joined the great heap of our language's modern lexicon. More quietly, the Tamil slang... More »

Enjoy Your 'Th' Sounds Now, They'll Be Gone by 2066

According to a new report from British linguistic experts

(Newser) - The Queen's English as spoken in the UK is under attack by immigrants, computers, American television, and youths. Or should we say yoofs? In a report published Thursday, linguistic experts at the University of York predict major changes in Brits' pronunciation of the English language by 2066, the Sun... More »

Here Are the Latest Additions to Oxford English Dictionary

'Yolo' made the cut

(Newser) - The latest slang to be added to the Oxford English Dictionary: "yolo," which, as all the youngsters know, stands for "you only live once." The new crop of more than 1,000 words and terms added to the OED also includes "gender-fluid," "yogalates"... More »

You Don't Know as Many Words as You Think You Do

Maybe about 42K if you're a 20-year-old, slightly more if you're older—but definitely not 200K

(Newser) - You don't have to be a lexicographer to have a pretty ample lexicon—but your word knowledge still may not be as ample as you think. At least, that's according to a Ghent University study published in the Frontiers in Psychology , said to be the largest ever of... More »

Teacher Can't Speak Spanish, Doesn't Get Spanish Gig, Sues

Florida teacher says she's 'otherwise fully qualified' for the job

(Newser) - A Florida schoolteacher has filed a workplace discrimination lawsuit against her employer for turning her down for a job teaching Spanish—even though she doesn't speak Spanish, the News & Observer reports. Tracy Rosner, who teaches third grade at Coral Reef Elementary in Palmetto Bay, alleges in her federal... More »

Frozen Custard Stand Dinged Over Uncool English-Only Policy

The owner is willing to fight anyone who says he's racist

(Newser) - A frozen-treat shop is in hot water over an English-only policy for its employees. Joey Sanchez, a customer at Leon's Frozen Custard in Milwaukee, tells WISN he heard an employee tell a Spanish-speaking customer she had to order in English. The employee then told Sanchez she wasn't allowed... More »

French Students Protest 'Impossible' English Test

Some 12K students not 'coping' well, have signed a petition

(Newser) - When teens in France recently sat down to take an English language test, they were asked a pair of questions about Ian McEwan's novel Atonement: "What are three of his concerns about the situation?" and "How is Turner coping with the situation?" That latter question was apparently... More »

Why It's Hard to Learn Math in English

Words like "eleven" mess us up

(Newser) - When it comes to learning math, English speakers face a disadvantage that has nothing to do with the classroom environment. Research suggests that the English language simply makes it hard to talk about numbers, the Wall Street Journal reports. A key reason comes when kids reach the number 11: A... More »

Twitter Account About to Finish Tweeting Every Word

@everyword will send out its last tweet Saturday

(Newser) - After seven years spent tweeting every word in the English language one at a time, what was @everyword ’s most popular tweet? “Sex.” The popular Twitter feed will finally complete its task early Saturday, but until then, creator Adam Parrish is keeping the last word that will... More »

Texas Principal Who Banned Spanish Loses Job

Amy Lacey told students they could not speak it at school

(Newser) - A middle school principal near Houston who banned the speaking of Spanish on school grounds is out of a job, reports KHOU . The Hempstead School Board on Monday chose not to renew the contract of Amy Lacey, who set off a local firestorm on Nov. 12 when she announced, over... More »

Internet Invents a Preposition, Because Irony

Blogs, social media changing grammar: Megan Garber

(Newser) - Because politics. Because science. Because money. Remember when you'd need an "of" in these sentences? No longer, because Internet-speak, writes Megan Garber in the Atlantic . In short, the Internet has turned "because" into its own preposition (as language expert Stan Carey has pointed out ). For example,... More »

Thanks, Miley: 'Twerking' Now in Dictionary

Derp, derp, derp, vom.

(Newser) - It seems Miley Cyrus is dominating our conversations in more ways than one. Among words added this quarter to the Oxford Dictionaries Online is "twerking" —the ass-shaking dance move that had everyone talking about Miley after this week's MTV VMAs . Though the word has been around for... More »

Cuba Gets First English-Language Bookstore

American ex-pat opens co-op

(Newser) - Cuba's first English-language bookstore, cafe, and literary salon opened in Havana yesterday. The brainchild of a longtime US expat, Cuba Libro launched with just 300 books on offer, about what you'd expect to find in the lobby of an average US bed & breakfast. Next to what's... More »

Most Kids Curse Before They Learn the Alphabet

And they pick it up from ... guess who?

(Newser) - Most kids can utter an expletive before they even know their ABCs—probably because their parents (and most other adults) have such terrible pottymouths, according to a new book. In Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, Mellissa Mohr argues that English-speakers actually use a curse word about once every... More »

14 Great Words the English Language Lacks

Have you ever felt tartled?

(Newser) - You're stuffed, but you just can't stop eating because the meal is so delicious. What's the word for that again? Right, there is none, at least in English. But Georgians sum it up as "shemomedjamo." It's one of 14 interesting foreign words rounded up... More »

'Fiscal Cliff' Tops List of Banished Words

Of course, that doesn't mean anyone will stop saying them

(Newser) - It's the end of another year, and thus time for Michigan's Lake Superior State University to release its 38th annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse, and General Uselessness. The dozen words and phrases that made this year's cheeky... More »

AP Bans 'Ethnic Cleansing,' 'Homophobia' From Stylebook

'Anti-gay' is more accurate, editor says

(Newser) - The AP has axed terms including "homophobia," "Islamophobia," and "ethnic cleansing" from its widely followed stylebook. "Ethnic cleansing is a euphemism for pretty violent activities, a phobia is a psychiatric or medical term for a severe mental disorder," the AP's deputy standards... More »

Oxford Dictionary's Word of 2012: GIF

File format beats 'YOLO,' 'superstorm'

(Newser) - The GIF file type for simple animations has been around since the '80s but only now has the Oxford Dictionary decided to make it its American word of the year. GIF—which stands for "graphic interchange format"—"celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as... More »

Beluga Whale Tells Diver: Get 'Out'

A whale's song sounds eerily human, study says

(Newser) - It could be the muffled sound of singing in the shower or that sing-songy indecipherable voice from the Muppets' Swedish Chef. But scientists say it was a whale imitating people. In fact, the whale song sounded so eerily human that divers initially mistook it for a human voice. In a... More »

Romney's 'Old-Timey' English Evokes Another World

Some voters are charmed by 'his 1950s language'

(Newser) - "Binders full of women" may be the Mitt Romney remark of the moment, but colleagues and friends have long marveled at his uniquely old-fashioned version of English, the New York Times reports. Mormons typically avoid salty language, and Romney's father George also spoke in a gentlemanly manner,... More »

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