Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Languages In The News: September 2013

Today we'll be looking at some of the most interesting language stories featured in the news from the past month. We try to share as much language news as possible on our Facebook page, but we also like to take a look back at the best stories at the end of each month (or soon thereafter) just in case you missed them. Without further ado, here's what has been going on in the world of languages throughout the month of September.

This month in science news, we learned that experiments have lead researchers to believe that bilingual people have higher levels of mental flexibility, which really should come as a shock to no one. We also came across this quite interesting article from The Atlantic about how language can influence daily habits such as eating, spending, and smoking, based on research that looked at languages with strong and weak future tenses as well as the daily habits of those who spoke them.

A lovely bunch of octothorpes.
If you're interested in the history of punctuation marks, then you'll probably enjoy this piece from The New Yorker. It provides some insight into the creation of the octothorpe, more affectionately known as the hashtag (#) in modern times, as well as a few other marks.

We don't have a strong opinion on the existence of apostrophes, but this guy really hates them. He makes a few good points, but his apostrophe-free article also makes the little incorrect grammar alarm in our brains shriek incessantly.

It has been suggested that all children in the European Union learn at least two foreign languages as a way to promote multiculturalism. In response, many people suggested that it would make far more sense if everyone in the EU just had to learn English instead, which could be the sole official language of the European Union. The Economist explains why this is an absolutely terrible and ridiculous idea.

This American university student would like for Americans to learn more widely spoken languages such as Bengali and Javanese. They would subsequently be able to interact with less familiar cultures instead of always learning less spoken European languages like French. It's certainly an interesting idea, though implementation seems unlikely anytime soon.

Finally, here's a look at Elvish (from The Lord of the Rings), Dothraki (from Game of Thrones), and Klingon (from Star Trek), and how these popular conlangs have eventually become "real" languages.

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