Monday, 26 September 2011

Editing tips for designers

For the verbose among you seeking concision. Also, a good example of why you need to know all those technical terms. 

Editing tips for designers

What song titles teach us about headlines

Not entirely convincing - doesn't really get round to headlines - but an interesting set of commentaries. 

What song titles teach us about making headlines stand out

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Accent Meme

I'm not sure of the source of this, but I know the British Library were running a research project which aimed to gather data on at least some of these questions.  Many won't make sense, because in this form, there are some American cultural touchstones that aren't familiar in the UK.  Nonetheless, 'aluminium' appears here in its UK spelling, though 'theatre' and 'pyjamas' follow the US pattern - which makes me suspect that this may be an adaptation and extension from an original UK idea.

From Dossy's Blog, a version of the meme:

Here’s the idea: record yourself saying the following things and answering the following questions. Then compare your accent with your friends. Fun for all! :)


  • Your name and/or username
  • Where you’re from
  • The following words: Aunt, Roof, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting Image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught, Orange, Coffee, Direction, Naturally, Aluminium, Herbs.
  • What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house? [on the night before Halloween?]
  • What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
  • What do you call gym shoes?
  • What do you say to address a group of people?
  • What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
  • What do you call your grandparents?
  • What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
  • What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
  • What is the thing you change the TV channel with?
You'll find Dossy's recording there, and it'll be easy to look for others.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

The Analytical Essay

We've linked to i love english language already on the PLB, but can I direct your attention to the following page? Half the battle in the exam is writing your essays tightly.

Fry's Planet Word

Stephen Fry is, of course, a national treasure; and also, conveniently, a fan of language and linguistics. This TV show starts Sunday and runs for 5 episodes which cover a range of language issues, beyond just English. Set your recorder, log on to iPlayer, or even actually watch it on good old live telly. Fry's Planet Word

Linguistics: How, Why, How and What with David Crystal

A Walk in the WoRds: Linguistics: How, Why, How and What with David Cry...: If you have ever wondered what inspires a person to study linguistics and what exactly linguists do, this episode of "Meet the Author" with David Crystal will enlighten you.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Septic's Companion

A dictionary of British slang, aimed at Americans. See stuff you didn't know was special, and incidentally illuminate your knowledge of things American. (I was never quite sure what 'bangs' were, till I saw the entry for 'fringe' here.) Prize if you guess why it's called The 'Septic's' Companion before looking it up.

The Septic's Companion

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

English@Park on Facebook

You don't have to be a member of Facebook to view the English@Park content, though if you are, you'll receive updates on your News Feed and can post to the wall, make comments, etc.  Don't worry, I'll update FB less than the Park Language Blog, so you won't be inundated with geek posts.  Share the love.

If you prefer the PLB, and want to be notified when it updates, you can subscribe to posts by email at the bottom of this page.  Most things I'll post here first, with selected material going to the FB page.


An American writer bemoans the invasion of British lexis and idioms into US English. The figures aren't quite on his side, but it's an interesting view from the other side. 

Britishisms: cataloging how they're infecting American English.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

TED video: What we learned from 5 million books

Perkily eccentric presentation of some of the joys of Google Ngrams, as discoverable in the Language Links section. 

Monday, 19 September 2011

Happy Birthday Smiley!

September 19th is not only famous for being international Talk Like A Pirate day. :-)

Sept. 19, 1982: Can't You Take a Joke? :-)

Friday, 16 September 2011

Archie Out of Context

Archie is a classic, clean-cut, 50s American comic strip.  But with a bit of language change, and divorced from context, one's innuendo-fuelled imagination can run wild.

The depressing tale of Johann Hari

Johann Hari is a smart political commentator and a successful journalist... or at least, he was until a few weeks ago. This interesting but antagonistic piece explores how journalistic shortcuts and plagiarism are costing him his reputation, if not his career, and contains some implicit advice for budding interviewers.

The depressing tale of Johann Hari


26 years in the making, DARE has produced its final (fifth) volume ready for release in 2012. Then they can start on supplements, presumably, to bring it up to date. 

Go to the '100 entries' page for an interesting sample of kooky dialect terms. 


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

CyberGrammar Homepage

Awesomely useful site. Deborah Myhill has been researching grammar teaching, and I came across her site here whilst trying to track down the research paper and lesson plans. Haven't actually found them yet, but this is a great little revision and extension site.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Best Job Ever: Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl

'Grammar Girl' is a commenter on common problems in English usage, with an American slant, rather than strictly grammar; but with friendly writing and lots of interesting little problems. 

Friday, 9 September 2011

Is Miliband morphing into Blair? A voice coach writes ...

An older article, but interesting.... 

Is Miliband morphing into Blair? A voice coach writes ...

Why Some Languages Sound Fast

Only partly about English, but a great little study which tries to figure out why we tend to perceive foreign languages as sounding 'fast'. (It's about syllable speed vs information density.)

Slow Down! Why Some Languages Sound So Fast,8599,2091477,00.html

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Yod-Dropping in American Accents

How come Americans say 'nooze' instead of 'nyews'?

Yod-Dropping in American Accents

Dolphins call each other by name?

Read the article for the details of what's behind that headline. Do you think the claim is borne out?

Dolphins call each other by name

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Poems are a form of texting

Okay, she's pushing it a bit; but both are forms of communication within strict limits which require conciseness. She'd be on firmer ground with tweeting, I think. And it's certainly so that lyrics and rap have connections with poetry - though a skilled lyric is less requirement for success than a musical hook or two.

Carol Ann Duffy: 'Poems are a form of texting'

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Reading for pleasure

Much educational achievement is based on what you do 'extra', 'for pleasure'. How can a government 'encourage' this? If it's for pleasure, it needs to be self-motivated, not imposed by an institution. 

Governments could remove tax from ebooks though. And keep libraries open.