Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Languages In The News: October 2013

Today we're going to look at several of the most interesting language stories that we found in the news this past month. We often share language news on our Facebook page, but we also like to take a look back at the best stories at the end of each month just in case you missed them. Here's our list of language news from the month of October.

This past month, the EU Education Commissioner warned that the UK can't just rely on the rest of the world to learn English, and needs to focus more on learning foreign languages. Recent statistics from the EU had shown that a dismal 9% of 15 year-olds speak a foreign language in the UK, compared to 80% in Sweden and the Netherlands. On the other hand, things may not be as bleak as they seem given this piece from the London Evening Standard, which points out the recent surge in trilingual children and families that are popping up all over the London area.

Sunset over Brazil's Rio Negro, a tributary of the Amazon.
Want to learn a language? Lifehacker asked its readers to nominate their favorite language learning tools. You can check out their descriptions of the top five, with the top spot going to Duolingo, which we reviewed this past summer.

In our society filled with numbers, it seems unfathomable that anyone could live without a way to count or express exact numbers. However, the Pirahã of Brazil seem to be doing just fine without them.

Have you ever wondered about the lives of the people who create dictionaries? If so, then you might like this interesting article on the outgoing chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. In other lexical news, The New Yorker provides a look at how certain words can become unusable, whether due to overuse, social reasons, or confusion over their meaning.

In sports news, for the first time ever, an NHL team is going to attempt to accurately punctuate players' names on the back of their jerseys. The equipment manager of the Montreal Canadiens decided it was finally time for diacritical marks to make an appearance. 

If you're in need of some interesting language facts to impress your friends, here are 50 for you to choose from, such as Papua New Guinea being home to a whopping 830 languages!

Finally, a prominent Frenchman has decided that the way to pressure companies to stop using English in their advertisements is to boycott any product that does so. The Telegraph goes on to tell how the French cultural ministry is hoping to replace words such as email and weekend with French-derived alternatives, an endeavor we imagine will be quite difficult to complete.

Is there a language article we didn't mention that you enjoyed this past month? Let us know about it in the comments below, and please include a link.