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Learning braille is liberating so it’s time to modernise. Dave Halberstadt

Good vibrations bring braille into the 21st century

Even in a world of digital devices, braille continues to be a vital part of life for blind people. For nearly 200 years, this versatile writing system has allowed them to learn, work and live in a more…
‘Tranny’ finds a place among many other slurs that have historically hateful roots. Foxtel

RuPaul’s ‘tranny’ debate: the limits and power of language

If you’re a fan of the American reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race, currently airing on Foxtel’s Lifestyle You channel in Australia, you’re likely aware of the ongoing storm that has surged around how…
What? I called you a ditch, Mike, a ditch … Courtesy of FOXTEL

What the f***‽ How much swearing is there on TV?

Warning: this article contains copious swearing. Let me start with a confession: I swear. Not gratuitously, but once in a while it’s nice to let off steam with a well-placed “damnit” or two, when running…
Do children get confused growing up speaking two languages? Or is it beneficial? Shutterstock

Should I raise my kids bilingually?

As one in four Australians is now born outside of Australia, many children are growing up with other languages spoken at home. Should parents speak to their child in their first language, or attempt to…
The problem mightn’t be with the equations, but the language in the questions. www.shutterstock.com.au

Are our kids failing in maths because they can’t read?

There has been a lot of hand-wringing about mathematics lately. According to national and international testing we are not getting any better at it and plenty of good reasons have been offered for why…
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…
Lost in translation. Gwenaël Piaser

We need to fall back in love with learning languages

The drop in applications to European language programmes at UK universities will not have come as a great shock to anybody teaching languages. For at least the past 15 years, the number of students applying…
“Hey, where are u?” “Ummm, right next to you”. TonZ

Watch where you put that emoticon AND KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN

Emoticons, punctuation and creative spelling have been debated, condemned, and regulated since the very beginning of online text-based communication. We’ve all seen “netiquettes” on how not to use ALL…
Tech-influenced terms such as “infovore” are in popular usage. Does that mean the English language is going to the dogs? as_much

The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year is …

Each year the Macquarie Dictionary names a Word of the Year from a shortlist of words that have made a valuable contribution to the language. And it has declared 2013 to be the year … of … the … “infovore…
Why are British bosses so bothered by Australian question intonation? AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Australian question intonation? No good in Britain? Mate, really?

We could blame it on The Ashes. Last week, media outlets reported the Brits’ use of the Aussie accent might hurt their chances of promotion. But take a deep breath and two steps back from the 24-hour news…
Was Prince Charles correct? Are Americans destroying the English language? EPA/Samantha Reinders

The Americans are destroying the English language – or are they?

In 1995 Prince Charles caused a ruckus when he lamented the unchecked spread of American English – and the effect of American usage is one that’s perennially lamented. But is it true? Are Americans really…
Frankie wants us to relax, but is he asking or telling? chrisjohnbeckett

Get Back, Light my Fire, Do it Again: why is pop so pushy?

Rock and roll has always been a great liberating force in our culture. For many it has provided the soundtrack for all manner of acts of political rebellion and personal liberation. This spirit is captured…

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