The Web of Language

blog navigation

Dennis Baron's go-to site for language and technology in the news
Results for "July, 2009"

blog posts

  • 1984 can still be viewed on Australian Kindles the copyright has expired there, and in other parts of the world as well

    Amazon Fail 2.0: Bookseller's Big Brother removes Orwell's Big Brother from Kindles everywhere

    In a move worthy of George Orwell's Big Brother, sent its thought police into Kindles everywhere to erase copies of "1984" and "Animal Farm."

  • Researchers find swearing has health benefits. If you're in pain, curse twice and call me in the morning

    People who swear when they're hurt feel less pain than those who don't. At least that's the conclusion of a team of psychologists at England's Keele University.

  • Supporters of official English in the United States can learn from Slovakia

    Supporters of official English in the United States can take a hint from Slovakia, where a new official language law promises to be two, two, two things in one: it’s a nation builder and an agent of oppression.

    For centuries, the land that is now Slovakia bounced from ruler to ruler, each favoring a different official language: first came Latin, then German, then Hungarian, then Czech. During the Cold War, Russian, never official, served as a fast track to success. Under foreign rule the Slovak language was tolerated, ignored, discouraged, even suppressed. But now Slovakia is its own country, and Slovak is finally official, so like any good official language, its first goal is to wipe out the competition.

  • Monkey grammar

    A team of Harvard psychologists has proved that monkeys can tell the difference between a banana and a nabama.

    Well, maybe not exactly banana and nabama. After all, monkeys can’t talk. Even though a few chimps learned to sign, they’re hopeless at grammar and possess nothing even remotely resembling human language. Plus, three-syllable banana is a pretty long word for any primate. But a group of tamarins did notice when researchers switched the order of the sounds in a series of two-syllable nonsense words.