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Articles on Sociolinguistics

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A view of the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

How ‘gate’ became the syllable of scandal

Many of the coinages fail to differentiate the mundane from the momentous. Has the suffix’s overuse rendered it essentially meaningless?
A woman holds a placard with the words ‘language is a weapon’ written in Ukrainian during a 2020 protest of a bill that sought to widen the use of Russian in Ukrainian public education. Evgen Kotenko/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Long before shots were fired, a linguistic power struggle was playing out in Ukraine

To Russian nationalists, if the Ukrainian language is classified as a derivative of the Russian language, the invasion looks less like an act of aggression and more like reintegration.
The coronavirus forced the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary to break with tradition. Illustration by Anurag Papolu/The Conversation; dictionary photo by Spauln via Getty Images and model of COVID-19 by fpm/iStock via Getty Images

How COVID-19 is changing the English language

Updates to the Oxford English Dictionary provide a fascinating glimpse into how language changes in the face of rapid and unprecedented social and economic disruption.
If only there were one that fit. Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

What makes something ironic?

Irony is a slippery concept. Sometimes it’s used in speech, other times it’s used to describe a situation – oh, and it can also characterize an attitude. Is its versatility its downfall?
The American Dialect Society chose ‘they’ as its ‘Word of the Decade.’ abstract_art7/Shutterstock.com

For linguists, it was the decade of the pronoun

Pronouns rarely, if ever, change. Then along came the gender nonbinary ‘they,’ which was just anointed ‘word of the decade.’
Doctors protest against what they see as the Conservative Party’s push to privatise the health service. Isabel Infantes/PA

The British election explained in five key phrases

One side wants to ‘get Brexit done’ while the other shouts the ‘NHS is not for sale!’. What does it all really mean?

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