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Dennis Baron's go-to site for language and technology in the news
Results for "June, 2010"

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  • Readers highlighting portions of George Orwell's '1984' won't see their highlights on Kindle's 'Popular Highlights.' That's because Big Brother Amazon deleted '1984' from Kindles when it found that it hadn't secured the proper rights to sell the book. Plus, most Kindle readers aren't highlighting passages from anything that counts as serious or important literature.

    Don't read this: What Kindle's most-highlighted passages tell us about popular taste

    The New York Times reports that the Amazon Kindle is turning reading from an isolating activity into a social one. Here's how: Kindle users are annotating what they read. Amazon then collects these annotations and reprints "the passages that are most highlighted by the millions of Kindle customers" on its "Popular Highlights" website. Those who fear that computers are putting an end to "real" reading can relax. For the born-digital generation, it's just a hop, skip, and click from Facebook to "The Brothers Karamazov."

  • Barack Obama teaching Con Law at the University of Chicago, home of conservatives, big words, and long sentences

    Barack Obama wants to know, "Are you smarter than a ninth-grader?"

    Presidents come in for a lot of criticism, particularly from late-night comics and the party that's out of office. But Republicans, Democrats, and even Socialists should be outraged at the audacity of critics who blame Pres. Barack Obama for pitching his recent speech on the BP oil spill to Americans whose verbal comprehension level is just below that of a tenth-grader. Since most Americans who are old enough to do so have already completed tenth grade, most Americans should be smarter than a ninth-grader.

  • A classic Chevy with a classic Coke

    Who owns American English? GM recalls every Chevy ever made, then says "Never mind."

    On Tuesday, June 8, in a memo to Chevrolet Division employees in Detroit, General Motors announced the most massive recall in automotive history, ordering the replacement of Chevy, one of oldest and most common American brand nicknames, with Chevrolet: "We'd ask that whether you're talking to a dealer, reviewing dealer advertising, or speaking with friends and family, that you communicate our brand as Chevrolet moving forward." Two days later, GM canceled the recall.

  • Language Police flunk teachers from Estonia to Arizona

    Government language inspectors are fanning out across Estonia to ensure that the nation's teachers are speaking good, error-free Estonian. And the same thing is going on in Arizona, where state officials are monitoring teachers to check for foreign accents and grammatical mistakes. There are distinct parallels between the language police in Estonia and Arizona, whose motto is to protect and serve the language -- Estonian in one case, English in the other -- not those who speak it.

  • Kaplan College fires English-only president

    The president of the Chula Vista, California, branch of Kaplan College was fired after telling students that they could be disciplined for speaking Spanish in their classes.