Category Archives: In the news …

Glosso fodder that’s making headlines

In the news: the fate of German’s longest word

A cow, by Roland Darré / Wikimedia Commons

“The German language has lost its longest word thanks to a change in the law to conform with EU regulations. Rindfleischetikettierungsueberwachungsaufgabenuebertragungsgesetz – meaning “law delegating beef label monitoring” – was introduced in 1999 in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It was repealed following changes to EU regulations on the testing of cattle.” The BBC has the full story (including the name of these very long words that are so common in German …).

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In the news … Қазақстан to Qazaqstan?

Kazakh Latin alphabet, 1924 / Wikimedia Commons

“The Kazakh language has long been unsure which alphabet to find a comfortable home in and it’s now in for another transition – but this is not without controversy. Last Friday Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev finally decreed that the language would shed its heavy Cyrillic coat and don what he hopes to be a more fashionable attire: the Latin alphabet.” The BBC has the story.

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Bus, buses, busses

AP Style’s wry tip of the month …

According to Grammarist:

“Notwithstanding Great Caesar’s assertion regarding ‘busses’ as being a kiss (an archaic definition retained only in very few dialects), busses is commonly accepted as the correct form for the verb ‘to bus’ as in he/she/it busses. Buses is the plural of the noun ‘bus’.”

You can hear the singular “buss” in this song, ‘Spin on a Red Brick Floor’: take it away, Nanci Griffith:

Busses,
Glosso
xoxo

Hat tip to Rona

In the news … The importance of good spelling (in dating and in life)

Illustration from Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (1890—1907) / Wikimedia Commons

Spelling is important. It can affect your chances of getting a job, your love life, and it can make us appear less intelligent than we are. A recent BBC article spells it all out for us.

“Research shows that as soon as people spot a spelling mistake on a website they’ll often leave it because they fear it’s fraudulent.

Corporations are aware that a portion of their image rests upon correct writing and spelling, says Roslyn Petelin, associate professor in writing at the University of Queensland in Australia. ‘Nothing can make you lose credibility more quickly and seem uneducated than a spelling mistake, and that includes apostrophes,’ she says.

… Indeed, a lack of a certain level of proficiency may be a barrier to getting a job at all. A lot of employers in Australia now ask candidates to take writing tests, says Petelin. ‘Young people coming out of university may have all the right interpersonal skills, but if they can’t write coherently, employers won’t give them a job.’

Poor spelling can even affect your dating chances. A Match.com survey found that 39% of singles judged the suitability of candidates by their grammar.”

Read the full story at the BBC.

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Goodbye ladies & gentlemen; hello everyone

Central London Railway (now Central Line) motor car 1903 / Wikimedia Commons

“The ‘ladies and gentlemen’ greeting on Tube announcements is to be scrapped, Transport for London (TfL) has announced. London Underground staff have been told to say “hello everyone” in an effort to become more gender-neutral. … The revised phrasing will be applied to all new pre-recorded announcements made across the capital’s transport network.” Read the full story on BBC News.

And while we’re on the subject of gender-neutral language: “Malta might be the next country to bring in marriage equality after the country’s government brought forward legislation to removed gender language from their marriage laws. The draft law would abolish gendered terms such as “husband”, “wife”, “mother” and “father” from the country’s Marriage Act and other laws and replace them with gender-neutral terminology. The move has the support of the centre-right opposition Nationalist party.” Read more in OutinPerth.

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Ich sage marmalade, you say jam … (But maybe not for long)

Frank Coopers Oxford Marmalade / Wikimedia Commons

“Brussels MEP plots sweet revenge for Brexit by changing definition of MARMALADE so it includes German jam.” So screamed one of the more bizarre headlines in Tuesday’s Daily Mail. What does marmalade actually mean?

According to the OED, it’s “a preserve made from citrus fruit, especially bitter oranges.”

As the Daily Mail went on to explain, “Under EU rules the spread — a staple of many British breakfast tables and beloved by Paddington Bear — can only be labeled such if it contains at least 20 per cent citrus fruit. … This enshrines in law the British definition that it refers exclusively to spreads made from oranges or lemons. But Germans have traditionally used the name to refer to all sorts of jams made from a variety of fruits including strawberries and plums. … Jakob von Weizsäcker, a German socialist member of the European Parliament, called for the definition to be changed.” You can’t make this stuff up…

Etymonline offers this history of the name of the sweet spread: “late 15c: from Middle French marmelade, from Portuguese marmelada “quince jelly, marmalade,” from marmelo “quince,” by dissimilation from Latin melimelum “sweet apple,” originally “fruit of an apple tree grafted onto quince,” from Greek melimelon, from meli “honey” + melon “apple”. Extended 17c. to “preserve made from citrus fruit.”

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In the news: the return of Jay-Z’s hyphen

The newly rehyphenated Jay-Z

“It’s simple really. First there was a rapper called Jay-Z, who was very popular until 2013. Then he disappeared and was replaced with someone called Jay Z. But yesterday a new album was announced by someone called JAY-Z. … The musician’s hyphen has been reinstated with the announcement of his new album – but he’s far from the first pop star to opt for a change of moniker.” Read the full story in The Guardian.

And see Glossophilia’s earlier post from July 2013: “Jay Z no longer mononymous” …

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