Language

Three Republican state lawmakers filed an initiative petition this week to make English the official language of the state of Oregon.

In school, many of us were sent to dictionaries to look up words we didn't know.

Now, dictionaries are coming to us, filling themselves up with terms that may already feel overly familiar.

More than 150 new words and definitions have been added to the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, the publisher announced Monday. The list includes selfie, hashtag, big data and unfriend.

"So many of these new words show the impact of online connectivity to our lives and livelihood," Peter Sokolowski, a Merriam-Webster editor, said in a statement.

News Nuggets: Froufrou

May 5, 2014

Language is a slippery thing.  Just when you think you have it pretty much in hand, it slithers away.   

At least it has been that way for more than 200 years.

or

At least it has been that way for over 200 years.

For a very long time language purists have insisted on using more than rather than over when referring to quantity. 

Fussy news editor: More than 20 people were arrested.

The hoi polloi: Over 20 people were arrested.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Francesca Marciano has the rare distinction of being a celebrated writer in two languages.

FRANCESCA MARCIANO: It's almost as if by now I have two brains that are running parallel to one another. One brain writes films in Italian and the other brain seems to be writing novels in English.

He, She or...Ze?

Jan 8, 2014

Most people speaking the English language as recently at 1980 had no notion of what lay in store for the daily vernacular.  With the digital age came swarms of neologisms: bytes, bauds, dongles, exbibytes, favicons, greps, memes….whole herds and flocks of new words and usages thundering into our peaceful linguascape.

Stay tuned.  There are more on the way.  And the driver this time is not digital but sexual.  The latest changelings are pronouns.

From the Associated Press: Nov. 30, 2013 (and picked up by newspapers around the world):

US Census Bureau

New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show the Northwest has fewer people who speak a foreign language at home than the country as a whole. But the highest concentrations of foreign speaking households in the region are not where you might expect.

Has there ever been an age that was so grudging about suspending its disbelief? The groundlings at the Globe Theatre didn't giggle when Shakespeare had a clock chime in Julius Caesar. The Victorians didn't take Dickens to task for having the characters in A Tale of Two Cities ride the Dover mail coach 10 years before it was established. But Shakespeare and Dickens weren't writing in the age of the Internet, when every historical detail is scrutinized for chronological correctness, and when no "Gotcha!" remains unposted for long.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The chief justice of the Washington Supreme Court wants state lawmakers to fund video translation for people in court who don’t speak English. Chief Justice Barbara Madsen told a joint session of the state legislature Wednesday that a remote interpreter service would be less expensive than having a translator present.

She says courts currently have certified interpreters for only 35 languages.

Photo Credit: K. David Harrison / Northwest News Network

VANCOUVER, Canada - Usually it is good news when the Northwest appears on a top five list. But this one is not. Our region ranks near the top of a list of global hotspots for disappearing languages. The reason is that speakers of Native American languages are dwindling. Correspondent Tom Banse reports on how digital technology is coming to the rescue of some ancient tongues.