In the news (April 25)

electionslogan

Words, language and usage have been all over the news this week. Read about a nifty word-changing browser extension, India’s election slogans, vocab in the new SAT, a swearing ban in Russia, the demise of cursive script, and more …

The weird word of the week is jobation. See below for its definition.

*   *   *

“If you’re a cool-headed, fair-minded, forward-thinking descriptivist like my colleague David Haglund, it doesn’t bother you one bit that people often use the word “literally” when describing things figuratively. If, on the other hand, you’re a cranky language bully like me, it figuratively bugs the crap out of you every time.” That’s Will Oremus on Slate’s “Future Tense” blog, in his piece describing the new Chrome browser extension that replaces the word “literally” with “figuratively”on sites and articles across the web, “with deeply gratifying results.”

[This reminds me of one of my favorite Tweeters — Stealth Mountain — who sends a tweet to everyone on the web who types the words “sneak peak”, telling them, literally, “I think you mean ‘sneak peek'” … ]

*   *   *

The revised SAT won’t include obscure vocabulary words any more, the New York Times reports. “One big change is in the vocabulary questions, which will no longer include obscure words. Instead, the focus will be on what the College Board calls ‘high utility’ words that appear in many contexts, in many disciplines—often with shifting meanings—and they will be tested in context.”

*   *   *

Is cursive handwriting slowly dying out in America? PBS Newshour looks at the history of “joined-up writing” and asks about the future of this art form. “With young thumbs furiously pounding out abbreviated words and internet slang while texting and with fingers flying across keyboards writing emails, reports and, yes, even news articles, the act of taking a pen and carefully crafting notes and letters is occurring less frequently in the modern world.”

*   *   *

The BBC looks at India’s colorful election slogans. Yes, they can too.

*   *   *

The Russian parliament’s lower house has passed a ban on swearing (or what the Americans call cursing) in films, music and other works of art. The BBC reports.

*   *   *

Ever wondered where the expression “bite the bullet” came from? Or “cold feet” or “go with the flow”? Buzzfeed gives us 36 unexpected origins of everyday British phrases.

*   *   *

Urszula Clark on the British Council blog asks “which variety of English language should you speak?”. The results of Clark’s research show “how dynamic, fragmented and mobile the English language has become. At the same time, the influence of traditional gatekeepers of ‘standard’ English, such as the BBC, is weakening.”

*   *   *

Weird word of the week: jobation. Noun: (chiefly British): a scolding; a long tedious rebuke or reproof. “It is difficult for me to justify to myself the violent jobation which my Father gave me in consequence of my scream, except by attributing to him something of the human weakness of vanity. — from Father and Son by Edmund Gosse, 1907.

 

Leave a Reply

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