Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Languages In The News: July 2013

Since today is the final day of July, we're going to look at how languages made it into the news over the past month. We try to share as much language news as possible on our Facebook page if you'd like to keep up with the news as it happens. If you'd rather see it summarized, look no further!

This is a thunderstorm, not a shitstorm.
To start, we found a couple of articles related to the English and German lexicons quite interesting. The Independent had a piece about the recent addition of shitstorm to the German standard lexicon. Apparently, the word has become so commonly used in Germany that Angela Merkel has even used it in public. Our only quibble about the article is the editorial decision to censor the word that is the focus of the piece, instead writing it as s***storm. If you're going to write about a word, you should at least spell the whole word out once!

Meanwhile, The Guardian bemoaned the decline of the use of "thank you" in Britain. If you have a few moments to spare, it's an amusing look at the phrase and some of its many replacements, including "ta", "cheers", and "cool".

In sports news, The New York Times featured an article about how English has suddenly risen to the top of the language ranks at the Tour de France. The importance of being able to communicate with English-language media is mentioned as one possible cause.

Kryptonite, perhaps?
If you're a Superman fan, you may be interested in this piece by canada.com. It describes linguistic anthropologist Christine Schreyer's work in the creation of the Kryptonian language used in his most recent film, Man of Steel.

We love to see that languages are getting the support they need to thrive, something that is exemplified by a recent Scottish project. According to the BBC, the Scottish government is giving £2 million to fund an online Gaelic dictionary. It's likely to take several decades to complete, but it's certainly money well spent. 

In the world of science, a new language may have been born in a remote area of Australia. Warlpiri rampaku, also known as Light Warlpiri, is said to have about 350 native speakers, all younger than age 35. New research by some Dutch scientists also suggests that Neanderthals may have shared linguistic elements with humans which exist in our languages to this day!

Is there a language article we missed that you really enjoyed this past month? Let us know about it below in the comments.