Articles on English language

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New words for today: druid, priest and warrior. Boy gaming via wckiww/Shutterstock

How Swedish children learn English through gaming

An hour of homework or an hour of World of Warcraft? It’s not hard to guess what many ten-year-old boys would rather be doing when they get home from school. But now research shows that in non-English…
Sticklers beware. marymuses

What the grammar gurus don’t get about how we learn

Sticklers beware. The British Library is hosting it’s English Grammar Day, a day to finely split hairs over split infinitives, apostrophe’s (sic, sic, sic), and Oxford commas (sick!). Yes, in the case…
Ronald Reagan: ‘mistakes were made’. But by whom, Mr President? By you? Flickr/Brett Tatman

‘Mistakes were made’: detecting the sneaky passive voice

In a recent enquiry into alleged sexual abuses by priests, Cardinal George Pell said: Mistakes were made by me and by others in the church that resulted in driving Mr Ellis and the archdiocese apart rather…
You haven’t used ‘stakeholder’ enough. Professor and student via Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

To write English like a professor, don’t rely on Google translate

Thankfully, nobody speaks academic English as a first language. The English of the university is a very particular form that has specific features and conventions. Sometimes, this is just referred to as…
E-C-S-T-A-T-I-C. Michael Reynolds/EPA

How to be a whizz at spelling

Children who compete in spelling bees often dazzle with their ability to spell complex words. In this year’s televised Scripps National Spelling Bee, two American teenagers were so good they were crowned…
The next Shakespeare… in a manner of speaking. EPA/Paul Buck

Russell Brand English A Level will be refreshing and rigorous

The exam board OCR recently announced a new English Language and Literature A Level that they intend to offer from 2015. The proposed syllabus boasts that “the range of texts to be studied is to be the…
We long ago lost our second person plural – but that hasn’t stopped us adapting. Symic

Are youse using English properly – or mangling your native tongue?

Languages evolve and transform. If that weren’t the case, the only word in the previous sentence that would be considered English is and (which in any case used to mean if). The English we speak would…
Publishing a peer-reviewed paper isn’t easy, but new research confirms it’s worth the fight. Cartoon by Nick Kim, Massey University, Wellington

Predicting who will publish or perish as career academics

It doesn’t matter whether or not you think it’s fair: if you’re an academic, your publishing record will have a crucial impact on your career. It can profoundly affect your prospects for employment, for…
Funny? At least they are trying. Sangueza via Creative Commons

‘Allo, allo’ Brits left tongue-tied by their language problems

The British have long been notorious for their lack of ability in foreign languages but there are signs that, far from becoming more cosmopolitan as paid-up members of the European Union, they are getting…

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