meta/phr(eɪ) Weekly (hebdomadal! – rare) Digest

La nostra “Weekly” forse dovrebbe chiamarsi “Random“, vista la frequenza con cui pubblichiamo le nostre perle di linguistica… Anyway(s), speriamo che gradiate la raccolta, nonostante tutto!

I contenuti proposti sono tratti da:

Buona lettura!/Happy reading!

Ricordate di seguirci su Twitter: @metaphraZe

Twitter and the Oxford English Dictionary

Although Twitter (maximum 140 characters) and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) (over 350 million characters) may seem like strange bedfellows, the former has recently become an integral part of the latter: for the first time, the OED has included individual Twitter posts as part of its quotation evidence.

more here
follow @OUPAcademic on Twitter

BBC News style guide now globally available

I do enjoy a good style guide: browsing the alphabetical entries, reading the general advice sections, learning how organisations handle sensitive subjects, and seeing how different publishers treat the same material. What usage fiend doesn’t find this stuff fascinating?
So I was very happy to learn today that the BBC News style guide is now fully and freely available online. It went public about a year ago but didn’t appear to be accessible outside the UK, except for a PDF which, though generally excellent, dates to March 2003.

BBC Style Guide

Audiences expect the BBC to demonstrate the highest standards of English because well-written stories are easier to understand. This section of the College of Journalism website is the current style guide for all BBC News output. Although it is only a guide for journalists, it details many of the rules of spelling, punctuation and grammar. It also covers accuracy, fairness and impartiality. The Oxford English Dictionary is otherwise the preferred reference.

more here and here


“Lie” vs “Lay” – let’s try to sort things out! [Laying down the lie of the land/We cannot tell a lie: “Lie” vs. “lay” is confusing]

A recent comment by Isobel on my post ‘Who’s the boss of English?’ raised the vexed question of lay vs. lie. I felt this would be worth a post in its own right – not so much to lay down the law as to give the lie to the idea that it’s a simple matter of people learning what’s correct. Incidentally, the noun in the phrase in the title shows dialectal variation: generally lie of the land in British English, lay of the land in American English.

more here and here


7 Of The Best Dialect Quizzes

If you’re feeling particularly nationalistic, or just want to see how consistently you speak like your friends and neighbors, here are all the dialect quizzes that I could find. Find out what your dialect most resembles, and, in many cases, help science at the same time!

more here


Q&A: Chris Carter on The X-Files and ‘The ’90s: The Last Great Decade’

A lot can change in 15 years. National Geographic Channel’s upcoming three-part miniseries The ’90s: The Last Great Decade? makes that quite apparent, with a look back on the decade that gave us Bill Clinton’s presidency, the rise of America Online, the musical stylings of Vanilla Ice, and a spooky little television series called The X-Files.

Created by Chris Carter, The X-Files debuted in September 1993 and quickly became a touchstone for an entire generation of skeptics, sci-fi enthusiasts, conspiracy theorists, and audiences in search of something that was unlike anything else on television. The series went on to set the record for a sci-fi series with nine seasons of adventures featuring FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), and their successors investigating all manner of extraterrestrial and supernatural phenomena.

With a run that spanned most of the decade and storylines that were often ripped from the headlines, The X-Files was truly a product of its time. That’s why mental_floss was happy to speak with Carter—who reflects on the show’s success in The ’90s: The Last Great Decade?—and have the chance to discuss the beloved series he created, the decade that nurtured it, and whether the truth is still out there.

read more here


Sailing the seas of nautical language

I recently endured a weekend of mini-disasters (and it was supposed to be a relaxing Bank Holiday, too!). When I related the catalogue of catastrophettes to my father, his first response was ‘Well, worse things happen at sea!’. Though I was piqued, as he clearly didn’t think my weekend ranked high on the scale of human suffering, I thanked him for reminding me of this saying. It prompted me to muse that, whether we’re aware of it or not, the salty tang of the sea is never far from our thoughts, lips, pens, or keyboards. Nautical words and phrases season the discourse of our daily lives, from official reports and the outpourings of the media to our conversations and emails between family and friends.
You don’t need to indulge in the cheesy pseudo-piratespeak of shiver me timbers, scurvy dogs, and avast me hearties to navigate these linguistic waters, either (entertaining though it can be!). Although some words and sayings are transparent in their links to life on the briny (including ‘worse things happen at sea’) we use others without ever being aware of their marine origins, so far have they voyaged from their first or literal meanings.

Here’s a selection of words and expressions with nautical roots: some may surprise you!

read more here

E ancora:


Why Grammar Is Important

In high school or college, students of Asian heritage have the reputation of making the highest grades in the class, and the average American student worries about having several Asian Students in his or her class for fear that they will raise the curve and make it harder to get a good grade. Is that fear justified? Let’s look at some revealing facts.
The past eight winners of the National Spelling Bee, and the last thirteen of seventeen winners, have been of Indian descent.
Let’s keep going. According to a recent study (2012) comparing the academic performance of high school age young people in fifty-seven countries, students from the United States are performing well below those from most other developed nations. But Arne Duncan, U. S. Secretary of Education, points out that’s not the big problem. A more pressing concern, he claims, is the fact that American students are standing still while those of other nations are advancing. Hence, that gap will continue to widen.
The report, conducted by PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), shows that students in the United States performed near the middle of the pack. Averaging academic scores from all the countries, sixteen other industrialized countries scored above the United States in science, and twenty-three scored above the U.S. in math. Educational authorities noted that math scores in the United States remained about the same as they were when the last international academic scores were recorded, but scores in many other nations improved. There was a glitch in recording some reading scores, so reliable comparisons of reading scores are not currently available. However, Agence France-Presse (AFP), the oldest and largest news agency in the world with headquarters in Paris, reports that the United States ranks fourteenth in reading skills.

read more here


Side-netting battlers and giant-killing tacklers: a football corpus

Although, by now, quite a few people around the world will be mourning their home country’s exit from the World Cup, we hope it’s not rubbing salt into the wound to take a look at some of the most popular words relating to football.

read more here


Stay tuned! – Alla prossima!