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Results for "November, 2011"

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  • The year that was: When you're not busy tracking your 401k or watching a Tokyo Geiger counter, there's nothing like a rousing game of Chutes and Ladders to remind you of the volatility of the year gone by.

    The Word of the Year for 2011 is "volatility"

    The Web of Language Word of the Year for 2011 is "volatility." Volatility may not be trendy like "occupy" or "Arab Spring," but it's the one word that characterizes the bipolar mood of 2011 in everything from politics to economics. Volatility describes the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street; the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; scandals in college sports and investment banking; the Republican presidential scramble and the Greek debt crisis; regime change in Libya and in Italy; the Iranian nuclear build-up and the Fukushima nuclear melt-down. Throughout the year, the Dow Jones Index has been the poster-child for volatility, jumping up and down by hundreds of points like a high-stakes game of Chutes and Ladders. Indeed, given the daily shake ups not just of the year that was, but of the ten years since 9/11, volatility could well be the word of the decade, and with no end to volatility in sight, it could be the word for the entire twenty-first century.

  • How to save an endangered language

    There are roughly 7,000 languages spoken around the globe today. Five hundred years ago there were twice as many, but the rate of language death is accelerating. With languages disappearing at the rate of one every two weeks, in ninety years half of today's languages will be gone. Mostly it's the little languages, those with very few speakers, that are dying out, but language death can hit big languages as well as little and mid-sized ones. And it can hit those big languages pretty hard. Sure, languages like Degere and Vuna are disappearing in Kenya, Jeju in Korea, Manchu in China. And sure, Nigerians complain that Yoruba is fast giving way to English. But language-watchers warn that English itself may have entered a steep and potentially irreversible decline in both its native and its adoptive country.