In the news … (Friday, Sep 16)

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/1498–1543) via Wikimedia Commons

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/1498–1543) via Wikimedia Commons

In usage and grammar news this past month: how and why we curse (or swear, if you’re a profane Brit); a new app for grammar snobs; a celebrity scolds Siri for mispronouncing her name; names that parents regret giving their babies; the true nature of the word gypsy; and a grammar rule that we all use without knowing it.

***

“Benjamin Bergen, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, San Diego, explores the many facets of how and why we curse in his new book, What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves.” See Gizmodo’s interview with Bergen here.

***

“Pedants, rejoice! Grammar Snobs Can Now Correct People’s iOS Text Messages “. Yes, that’s correct: you really can wield your virtual red pen on other people’s messages and return to sender. But beware: you might not keep your friends for long. Buzzfeed shows you how to do it.

***

Barbra Streisand recently complained to iPhone’s head honcho about the smartphone’s incorrect pronunciation of her name.  “I called the head of Apple, Tim Cook, and he delightfully agreed to have Siri change the pronunciation of my name, finally,” Streisand recently told NPR’s Weekend Edition. The BBC has the report.

***

Do you regret the name you bestowed for life on your darling newborn? Do you carry one of the 10 most regretted baby names? “New research,” according to The Independent, “shows that a fifth of parents in the UK regret the name they gave their child.” Find out which are the 10 most regrettable baby names here.

***

Is “gypsy” a hip way of describing your bohemian, free-spirited soul? Or is it really a racial slur? Odyssey argues for the latter in its exploration of the misunderstood label.

***

Last but not least, you must have been hiding under a rock if you missed this week’s viral grammar post. We discovered to our universal surprise and delight that we English-speakers all use a fairly rigid usage rule without realizing it: the sublime, ridiculous but rigid ordering of adjectives by shape, age, size, opinion, color, purpose and other defining properties. When the BBC’s Matthew Anderson tweeted an excerpt from Mark Forsyth’s book The Elements of Eloquence, which pointed out this rule, the internet lit up in awe.

But watch for Glossophilia’s next post, which reveals the big bad exception to this amazing all-encompassing rule — a clue to which is in this very sentence …

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *