Saturday, August 31, 2013

Languages In The News: August 2013

It's that time of month again! Since we've finally reached the final day of August, we're going to look at some of the most interesting language news stories that we've come across in the past month. If you'd rather read the news as it happens, we also try to share as many good language stories as possible on our Facebook page throughout the month. 

What are you looking at?
We begin with an article from The Telegraph, which rightly cautions everyone to be very careful when using translation software. You might not always get the results you're expecting when bad translations such as "Got Milk?" becoming "Are you lactating?" are known to have happened. On a similar note, it seems "autogrammar" is on the technological horizon as well, so be prepared!

Google's definition of "literally" ruffled many feathers and caused quite a bit of despair among some linguists this month. However, National Geographic points out why they should all take a moment to calm down as word definitions are constantly changing. In fact, Mashable shared this great comic that demonstrates that exact point!

If you like maps, you might be interested in the new interactive language maps provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. It allows you to see population density maps of speakers of over a dozen languages used in the United States including French Creole, Persian, Korean, and Tagalog.

Many people were shocked to discover that the UK city of Manchester is the most linguistically diverse city in Western Europe, if not the entire world. According to The Independent, up to 200 languages are spoken in the city at any time. English obviously comes in first, but it's also home to a sizable Urdu-speaking population. Other languages to be found include Bengali and Yoruba.

Finally, we learned that the online Oxford Dictionaries have added several new words to their inventory this month, including "twerk", "squee", "selfie", and "srsly", among others. We're not so sure how we feel about that last one... does removing all the vowels really make it a "word" worthy of the dictionary?

Did we leave out your favorite language news story of the month? Let us know about it in the comments below, and please include a link!