In the news (Jan 31)


In language news this week: different ways of pronouncing Hyundai, the ‘ax versus ask’ question, whether commas are really necessary, and more. Plus a new Weird Word of the Week …

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According to the BBC, there are at least three different approved ways of saying Hyundai, depending on whether you’re in South Korea, the UK or US. “The original Korean pronunciation is closest to HYUN-day (-hy as in Hugh, -u as in bun, -ay as in day, stressed syllables shown in upper case). Hyundai UK, including its adverts, has a different way of saying it: high-UUN-digh (-igh as in high, -uu as in book, British anglicisation). … Hyundai’s US operation…uses the pronunciation HUN-day (-h as in hot, -u as in bun, -ay as in day, US anglicisation).”

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The ‘ax’ versus ‘ask’ question: linguist John McWhorter, in a Los Angeles Times op ed piece, asks: “Using ‘ax’ for ‘ask’ dates back to at least Chaucer, so why do we consider it illiterate today? … As a black linguist, I have come to expect that, during question sessions after any public talk I give on language, someone will ask: “What’s with ‘ax’?”

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The BBC’s Mind the Gap blog identifies 10 American speech habits that grate on British ears.

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Slate asks: will we use commas in the future? “In some ways commas are like ketchup and mustard. We’re glad those things exist. They surely make our french fries and hamburgers taste better. But we’d all survive without them.” Is this really so?

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WWW: Weird Word of the Week: 

This week’s word is batterfang: verb: To assail with fists and nails; beat and beclaw. Etymology unknown.

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