TGIF: That Gerund Is Funky (Jan 17)


Hostile attitudes towards both the Welsh and Irish languages, the American Dialect Society’s curious word of the year, and certain adjectives under attack from a prestigious music magazine are all making the news this week.

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“‘World-class’ and other adjectives that should be banned from 2014” was the subject of an article in Gramophone magazine, written by its reviews editor Andrew Mellor. “The misleading and debasingly ubiquitous use of adjectives like ‘young’, ‘exciting’ and ‘dynamic’ probably has more to do with a chronic lack of imagination (and a good thesaurus) than deceit,” he argues. “But when it comes to the dubious description ‘world-class’, the intention and the result are rather more dangerous.” Read on to find out why.

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The American Dialect Society has chosen the word because as its word of the year. Why? Because … the New York Times‘s ArtsBeat blog explains why.

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In Cambridge, England, the City Council has banned apostrophes in place names. The decision to outlaw the punctuation from new road names, according to Cambridge News, has been branded by grammar gurus as “‘deplorable’ and condemned as ‘pandering to the lowest denominator’, especially in a city renowned for learning.”

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An ad for a job in Pembrokeshire, UK, has sparked some controversy. The county council has been accused of a “scandalous attitude” towards the Welsh language after its website said applicants for social work jobs need not “worry” if they were not bilingual. As the BBC reports, “language pressure groups claim the Pembrokeshire council statement was “an insult” to people living there.” In other news about the Welsh language, there’s a  report before European ministers highlighting concerns about the delivery of health and care services through the medium of Welsh. According to the BBC, “it comes as experts say they are already worried by a fall in the number of Welsh speakers, particularly in the traditional heartland areas of north and west Wales.”

And the Irish language is also said to be under attack: in another accusation of the Council of Europe has said that there is a “persisting hostile climate” towards the Irish language in the Northern Ireland Assembly; RTE has the story.

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