1. Education
Richard Nordquist

Online Dictionaries and Words of the Year: Language in the News

By November 30, 2012

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It's time for our end-of-month roundup of language-related items in the news--from the linguistically profound to the lexically ridiculous.

  • English as a Life-Changing Language
    English can give the most economically disadvantaged in society hope. It is a passport to countless opportunities in education, career advancement, and international engagement. It builds confidence and underpins personal development. . . . Read more
    (Tony Reilly, "English Changes Lives." The Sunday Times [UK], November 11, 2012)

  • Microsoft Promises Instant Translations
    Microsoft has shown off a technology that translates someone's speech into another language, with the results being played back in the speaker's own voice. . . . Microsoft hopes to have "systems that can completely break down language barriers" within the next few years. . . . Read more
    (David Meyer, "Microsoft's Translation Breakthrough: Speak, and Hear Your Voice in Chinese." ZDNet, November 9, 2012)

  • Macmillan Dictionaries Go Online Only
    Macmillan Dictionaries will no longer appear as physical books. The final copies are rolling off the presses at this very moment, and from next year, Macmillan Dictionary will be available only online. . . . Read only
    ("STOP THE PRESS: Dictionary No Longer a Page-Turner." Macmillan Education, November 5, 2012)

  • The Advantages of Online Dictionaries
    [T]he points in favor of electronic dictionaries are even more compelling than the case against printed ones. . . . Read more
    (R.L.G., "Dictionaries: Finding Their Ideal Format?" The Economist, November 22, 2012)

  • Oxford's U.S. Word of the Year: "GIF"
    "Higgs Boson" was a contender. So were "superstorm," "Super PAC" and "YOLO" (an acronym that stands for You Only Live Once). But Katherine Martin, head of the U.S. dictionaries program at Oxford University Press USA, said that when it came time for her team of lexicographers to pick the word of the year, the choice was obvious. It had to be GIF, the verb. . . . Read more
    (Deborah Netburn, "GIF (v.) Bests YOLO As Oxford Dictionaries' U.S. Word of the Year." Los Angeles Times, November 13, 2012)

  • Oxford's U.K. Word of the Year: "Omnishambles"
    With the BBC embroiled in a crisis of its own making and the British government showing itself to be gaffe-prone, it is perhaps appropriate that Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year is omnishambles. . . . Read more
    ("Omnishambles Beats Eurogeddon, Gif and Mobot as Oxford Word of the Year." The Guardian [UK], November 13, 2012)

  • The Vocabulary of World War I
    If you're feeling washed out, fed up or downright lousy, World War One is to blame. New research has shown how the conflict meant that hundreds of words and phrases came into common parlance thanks to the trenches. . . . Read more
    (Jasper Copping, "The Trench Talk That Is Now Entrenched in the English Language." The Daily Telegraph [UK], November 25, 2012)

  • Why Every American Should Learn Spanish
    English may be the country's most commonly spoken language, but America doesn't have an official language. We come from all around the world, and some 50 million of us have our roots in Spanish-speaking countries. . . . Read more
    ("17 Reasons Every American Should Learn Spanish." The Huffington Post, November 5, 2010)

  • In Defense of Filipino English
    What is it that will make speaking in English socially acceptable among our young? My generation will speak in English and my father's generation spoke in Spanish when spoken to in that language. But our young do not want to speak in English even if they know how to speak it. . . . Read more
    (Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ, "We Must Retain English Language." Manila Bulletin, November 1, 2012)

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