And now for something a little more silly…
Yesterday viewers of long running Channel 4 show Countdown were surprised to see the word “minge” pop up when letters were pulled up randomly for the board. For those who haven’t seen it, Countdown is a number and word puzzle game show, and is great as you play along and test your English vocabulary! In this particular round, contestants attempt to make the longest word out of randomly chosen vowels and consonants, which are selected by one of the contestants.
The winner of this round made the slang word “mingers,” if you’re interested!
This isn’t the first time questionable words have featured on Countdown. If you have time this Bank Holiday weekend, you can view some clips on YouTube, and read more here!
Photo credit: © Channel 4
The Estonian Language Institute has published the first major etymological Estonian dictionary. It has been nine years since work began on the book. Two previous dictionaries exist, but this is the first compiled and published in Estonia.
The first known Estonian etymology dictionary was Julius Mägiste’s German effort which remained unfinished at the time of his death. Alo Raun’s 1982 edition contained just one line per word stem, and so the new version is seen as a huge breakthrough for the documentation of the language’s etymology.
The book includes 6,643 word entries.
Lead editor Iris Metsmägi states that;
“The book summarises everything that is today known about the origin of Estonian words.”
More information on word selection and dialect variants can be found here.
I live with two Italians, so am always hearing Italian spoken around the house. An Italian work colleague recently taught me how to say smettila (which is “stop it” – don’t ask.)
My housemate is always amused when I come home with a new Italian word or phrase – the last one was zucchero filato (candy floss) – as he knows that I usually pick up words I can’t use in everyday conversation.
When I told my housemate my new word, he laughed a lot (apparently it’s cute to hear Italian spoken with an English accent!) and then suggested I nod my head when pronouncing the first syllable, as I had previously put the stress on the wrong syllable. I found this helped!
Apparently this is a useful trick to helping remember which syllable to stress, so I thought I’d share it with you.
Is this a trick you already know? Which words does it help you to remember?
2012 marks the 6th annual Literature Festival in London and a whole host of exciting events are planned at the Southbank Centre for the celebration of spoken word performance. Highlights for this year include:
- American novellist Siri Hustvedt, best known for penning What I Loved, will be giving a lecture on her new book, Living, Thinking, Looking, a collection of essays.
- StorySLAM – an open mic style night where budding authors read their 5 minute short stories to an audience including publishers at Random House
- Creative Writing classes – get hints and tips on how to create and plan your novel
- a discussion on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
- an event based on the Choose Your Own Adventure books – the audience decides the ending!
For more information and to book tickets, click here.
A new report by the Modern Languages Working Group, which was commissioned by the Scottish government, recommends that children in Scotland should start learning a second language from the first year of school. Currently, language subjects are introduced in the sixth year.
Ministers have signed an EU agreement promising to adhere to the recommendations made in the report, and the Scottish government is now looking to run a pilot scheme in around a dozen primary schools as soon as the coming 2012-2013 academic year.
Minister for Learning, Alisdair Allan, said
“The world is changing rapidly and radically and the government has a duty to ensure that Scottish schools prepare young people so they can flourish and succeed in the globalised, multi-lingual world we now live in.
One indisputable aspect of modern life is that more people travel widely for jobs and leisure and we must respond accordingly; we will not be as successful as a country and economy if we remain essentially a mono-lingual society.”
One woman in Nepal holds the key to a near extinct language. Seventy five year old Gyani Maiya Sen is the last remaining member of the Kusunda people who speaks their language fluently. Ms Sen states that other Kusunda people can speak a few words of the language but are not fully conversant.
“Fortunately I can also speak Nepali, but I feel very sad for not being able to speak my own language with people from my own community,” she said.
It is not known how many Kusunda people remain at this time; at the time of the 2001 Nepal census, there were 164 Kusundas living in Nepal, however many are thought to have either moved away or died.
Kusunda is considered a language isolate, meaning it has no discernible ties or relationships to any other known living language. No children within the indigenous group are learning the language, and all known Kusunda speakers have married into other tribes.
Whilst Nepal’s Ministry of Culture has no plans to preserve the language, linguistic students are seeking the help of Gyani Maiya Sen to document and learn Kusunda, in the hope of preventing it from dying out completely.
Source: BBC News
Archaeologists working in Turkey have found what they think to be evidence of a long forgotten language. A team of archaeologists working at Ziyaret Tepe, the site of the ancient Assyrian city of Tushan in south eastern Turkey, discovered an ancient clay writing tablet inscribed with Cuneiform characters, in the remains of a palace. Cambridge University researcher, Dr John MacGinnis, who examined and deciphered the tablet, found a list of 60 female names on the artefact. Some names are Assyrian, several more belong to other languages of the period, such as Luwian or Hurrian. Forty five of the names were not recognised as being one of the thousands of known Ancient Middle Eastern names, leading the team to believe that they have discovered evidence of an unidentified language.
Experts are now set to examine the names in further detail to discover if the letters bear any resemblance to existing known Assyrian languages such as Shubrian, which was previously thought to never have been written down.
Whatever the outcome, it’s clear that this tablet has potential to unlock more pieces in the historical puzzle.
A new study, entitled The Foreign Language Effect, explores the hypothesis that thinking in another language can influence the decisions one makes. Researchers at the University of Chicago conducted six experiments and concluded that “using a foreign language reduces decision making bias.” The six experiments were based on Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s theories on how people intuitively perceive risk.
One experiment tested native English speakers learning Japanese. 121 students were given a hypothetical choice as to whether they would save a set number of people, or take the risk of saving more people with a higher failure rate. Dr Boaz Keysar’s study asked the students if they would choose to develop a medicine that would definitely save 200,000 out of 600,000 people, or a medicine that had a 33.3 % chance of saving all 600,000 people with a 66.6 % chance of saving none of those people.
The first time the students were asked the question, in English, nearly 80% of the students chose the first option. The second time they were asked, in Japanese, only 40% chose the more “safe” option. The role of instinct here appeared to be reduced. The conclusion to this experiment was that these results were due to loss aversion.
Two experiments were hypothetical gambling based questions. A group of 144 native Korean students were presented with several low loss, high gain bets. When offered these bets in Korean, 57% of the students took them. When offered the bets in English, 67% of the students took them. To back up the conclusion that people deliberate more in a different language, 54 native English students with Spanish as a second language were presented with a similar gambling based dilemma. 54% of these students took the bets in English, yet the percentage of students taking the bets when presented to them in Spanish rose to 71%. The researchers came to the conclusion that when thinking in a different language, decisions are made more logically.
The study proposes that decision making in a foreign language provides greater cognitive and emotional distance than a native tongue does.
Source: Psychological Science
If you’re a user of Google’s Gmail service, you will soon be able to translate more easily within your email! The new system, which is being rolled out to all users during the next few days, will work much like a Google search which asks if you’d like to translate the page when the search engine finds the page in another language.
To translate a message manually, you can click on Translate Message in the header at the top of the message. If you want things to happen automatically, select Always translate. If you don’t need translation for a specific language, you can select Turn off and messages in that particular language won’t be translated for you. Further instructions can be found in the official Google Blog post.
This will save lots of time and copy and pasting to Google Translate!