Monthly Archives: September, 2012

What’s the Swedish Chef saying?

The Muppets have enduring popularity, both in America and around the world. But there’s one question it seems everyone asks – what exactly is the Swedish Chef saying?? Well, apparently Swedish people get asked that question a lot, and their answer is nothing Swedish. To Swedish people he sounds Norwegian. Actually he’s speaking gibberish! Slate(…)

10 British insults

There are a lot of similarities between American English and British English. There are also a lot of differences, and these are a lot more fun! BBC America is helping smooth the linguistic pathway, with its list of “10 Stinging British Insults”, only one of which is reproduced below as the rest are NSFW. Minger(…)

Black American sign language

You’ve probably all heard of African American Vernacular English (AAVE), but did you know that Black American sign language (Black ASL) differs also? An intriguing article in the Washington Post explores how the two languages came to be so different. Researchers began to investigate this issue around five years ago, and last year published a(…)

New Latin academy

The Pope is planning to set up a new Latin academy to promote the language. Until the 1960s Vatican documents were only published in Latin but usage has waned. Currently a small team promotes the language but the academy is expected to team up with academics to better “promote the knowledge and speaking of Latin,(…)

Language change is sneaky

Linguists have apparently long noticed that languages have a “sneaky” approach to change, and this has been confirmed in recent research. The study, called “The course of actualization” has been authored by Hendrik De Smet of the University of Leuven /Research Foundation Flanders. It looks into how language changes “actualize”, or become more common, and(…)

Refugee languages documented

A university programme in Idaho is helping to document the endangered languages of refugees. Researchers and students at Boise State are documenting the Kizigua and Maay Maay languages of the Somali-Bantu people. The research project’s goals include giving students some practical fieldwork experience, and producing a dictionary of the Kizigua language. Students are excited about(…)

Mariah Carey’s words

Mariah Carey’s been around for a long time. She’s apparently one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 200 million records worldwide. She’s also known for writing her own lyrics, and Gawker has pointed out that she has a somewhat peculiar word choice at times. Here are some examples: Acquiescent –(…)

Is crowdsourcing a dictionary a good idea?

We’ve mentioned a few different dictionaries here over the years, including recently the news that Collins are taking a crowdsourced approach to adding new words. In an interesting article, Deborah Cameron discusses the advantages and disadvantages of crowdsourced dictionaries. An extract: One objection to this might be that what results from it in practice is(…)