Sunday, 31 July 2011’s most looked-up words for 2011

Interesting to see what words most people don't know; but the thrust of the article is that the words tend to have such negative connotations. 

Is this because the world is a miserable place? Or the NY Times' outlook is sour? Or, more positively, that we know more difficult happy words than we do sad ones?

Thursday, 28 July 2011

An Uh, Er, Um Essay

Looks like it's not so great to be umless... Sometimes filled pauses are useful for more than just buying you thinking time.

N-grams and terrorism

What's being tracked here? Language, culture, or history? 

Google Ngrams viewer is a powerful tool, though its results are prone to error and open to interpretation. As the writer notes at the end of the article, this is just 'playing around' rather than hard data. 

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Top 12 Internet Acronyms?

Here's an interesting, and I dare say typical, collection of 'Internet acronyms'. 

For a starter they're not all strictly acronyms, but we'll let that pass. The context given is a teenager communicating with a parent - but as the article dimly concedes, not all these terms are appropriate for a teenager to use. 

Whilst BFF is young-girl talk, several of these are from online PC games played predominantly by young boys (and not-so-young men). Many are from rather older discussion boards used by significantly older engineers, techies and computer scientists. 

There's a tendency to treat 'internet' language as if it's one thing. But just like 'I found it on the internet' is about as specific as 'I found it in the world', so 'internet language' is increasingly as unhelpful a term as 'people language'. 

Top 12 Useful Internet Acronyms

Video: Typography about language

Wise words by Taylor Mali. 

Typography about language by Ronnie Bruce

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The 'Grammar' of Comics

Actually, it's more the graphology and style guide of comics, but this is still a very well-observed description of comics' linguistic conventions.

Blambot Comic Fonts and Lettering

Friday, 15 July 2011

A Guide To Potterisms

I'm sure you'll be familiar with these. Are they crossovers into everyday life?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Million-dollar manuscripts

Oxford's Bodleian library just bought an unfinished manuscript of an unpublished novel by Jane Austen - for a very large sum of money indeed. This is perhaps of more literary than linguistic interest - but at this site, you can read facsimiles and transcripts of Austen's writing, which reveals the corrections and editing Austen went through when drafting. It's also a good example of early 19th-century English, for A2 study. 


Jamaican Patois (And English Schwa)

Learn a likkle about Hinglish ere. The link through to looks promising too. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

What does your email say about you?

Overpunctuated, or underpunctuated? First person or third? Each suggests attitude, gender and more...

What do we infer about people from the style of their e-mail messages?

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Article: "Project Nim" Reveals a Scientific Scandal

This documentary, coming out soon, focuses on a controversial experiment that seeks to explore the core of what language is... but not necessarily very successfully. 

Newspapers and briefcases - vestigial words?

We still talk about 'web pages' and 'cover art' for digital-only media.  I've read people being berated for talking about the 'ship date' of a software download. (Though even physical media may not ever be distributed in an actual ship.) Do we still 'dial' a number?  Or just call a contact?

Newspapers and briefcases: vestigial words in today's English

Sunday, 10 July 2011

How to spell +1ed

I wish Google hadn't made the decision they have: the apostrophes are just going to encourage more people to use them where you don't need them, and confuse everybody. 

How to spell +1′d (or is it +1ed?)

People Read Web Pages in an F-Shaped Pattern

So you'll read this first paragraph more or less in full. 

And only so much of this one. 

And then

Just the



What’s the Most Beautiful Word in the English Language? - GalleyCat

I'm a fan of 'pillow'.

Friday, 8 July 2011

What A Beautiful Shade of #EB5248

Cool article on the names people give to colours - and a website that gathers them. 


When a cartoon character says "£&@#ing hell!", those have been called 'obscenicons'. They've been evolving for a long time...

More on the early days of obscenicons

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Famous first words

How to start a piece of journalism, according to some linguistic analyses of the openings of broadsheet articles...

OMG, xprts r all cybr tok is koo

Good article on language change and attitudes - prescriptivism vs descriptivism. 

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Revision Book for English Language

Just logging on the blog the revision book required for all AS and A2 Language students.

Revision Express AS and A2 English Language
Mr Alan Gardiner
£14.99 £7.72

Monday, 4 July 2011

Apostrophe Catastrophes

Lol's and ROFL's about apostrophe's.*

Apostrophe Catastrophes

*All of these are wrong, though some people use the first two, misleadingly. 

Verbs that Aren't

When is a 'doing word' not a verb? This article covers those words and phrases that look like they ought to be verbs, but grammatically aren't. 

The Different Kinds of Verbal Phrases in the English Language

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Speech is a messy business

More on tidying-up and representation vs plagiarism in journalism. Interesting insights into professional writing practice. 

Speech is a messy business, as Johann Hari, um, knows

Friday, 1 July 2011

Daring Fireball: On Attribution and Credit

There have been a couple of stories in the press/'blogosphere' about giving credit for the sources of info and quotations recently; this post explains some thinking about one of them. I hope the (lengthy) post gives you enough background to make sense of what happened. If you're serious about being a journalist, here's an example of why everyone needs to be serious about sources. :)

What's an easy method to make people more likely to trust what you say?

Spoiler: it's using concrete nouns. There are some other interesting details here too. 

I've certainly found the opposite: some very unconvincing statements from companies and government groups that use lots of abstract nouns to say very little. 

What's an easy method to make people more likely to trust what you say?