This week's crossword has the differences between American English and British English vocabulary as its theme. The clues are in British English and you have to find the US equivalent. Click here for a PDF version and here for an interactive web version which will work on iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch).
Academics in Paris on Wednesday protested a proposal that more courses be taught in English
NPR reports on a hot topic in the world of French academia at the moment:
Will teaching in English at France's universities undermine the French language? That's up for debate in the country now, and the argument is heated.
The lower house of parliament approved a measure Thursday that would allow courses to be taught in English, something that is currently against the law.
Those in favor of the proposal say it will attract more international students and improve English language skills of French students. But opponents say the move will only impoverish and marginalize the country's tongue. Full story with audio >>
COMMENT The new law relaxes the 1994 "Toubon" law, which stipulated that French must be used in universities and all but banned lessons in another language and visits from foreign guest teachers. However, the current controversy is something of a 'faux débat', since France's Grandes Ecoles, including the EM Normandie, have offered classes in English for years without anyone saying anything about it.
English to English is The Guardian New York newsroom's new Tumblr blog which attempts to chronicle and catalogue (catalog?) UK-US cultural differences, poke fun at the ‘special’ relationship and build a living glossary of news, slang and pop culture terms. Here's a video from the blog.
COMMENT The English to English blog's been going for just over a month, and there's already a lot of really interesting content. Readers can Request/Submit a translation, and tweet using the hashtag #eng2eng, but it's a pity that there is no "Comment" feature on the blog where you can contribute ideas. One to follow all the same.
Is English grammar boring for you? Alfredo used to think so, but he has grown to love learning about grammar. In this video, Alfredo gives you three tips to succeed with grammar and to increase your motivation to learn grammar.
COMMENT Good advice! There's nothing more demotivating for students than having to plough through traditional grammar exercises. By the way, you can find more videos with Alfredo on the OnTargetEnglish YouTube channel.
TRANSCRIPT I'm sure that the vi.. this visit will bear (?) our relationship at the best level we can hope (sic). We come from a great partnership, India and France, and we must always improve the relationship between our two countries. India is a great democracy, the big (sic) democracy in the world, a country which is (in ?) development, and France must be with you in the challenge. Thank you, thank you.
ANALYSIS Besides having an accent which borders on caricature, Hollande makes a number of mistakes. He says "bear our relationship" (probably translating the French "porter"), when he should have said "take", and omits the "for" after "hope". He should have used the superlative "biggest" when describing India as "the big democracy in the world" (though to be fair he gets the preposition "in" right). Finally, he talks about India being a country "in development" ("en dévelopement") rather than a "developing country". In any case, I'm not sure his Indian hosts would appreciate being referred to as a developing country, which sounds rather patronizing now that India is one of the so-called BRICS.
“Mysteries of Vernacular” is an animated video series exploring the unexpected etymology of everyday words. Each episode is ‘narrated’ by a stop-motion animated book that has been customized and hand-painted to bring the history of the words to life. In its final form, the series will exist as a library of 26 'volumes', one for each letter of the alphabet. The first three episodes of the series are available online at www.mysteriesofvernacular.com : “A for Assassin”, “C for Clue”, and “P for Pants”.
According to creator Jessica Oreck, each episode takes more than 80 hours to create between the research, construction of the book, and the animation.
COMMENT A beautiful and fascinating project. I look forward to discovering more episodes.
Ward Farnsworth, Professor of Law at Boston University (and fan of The English Blog), sent me a copy of his new book Classical English Rhetoric (thanks Ward!) While English learners may find the intricacies of anaphora and epistrophe a bit beyond them, teachers of English (and anyone who has to give speeches or presentations) will appreciate the numerous examples of the rhetorical art from Shakespeare through to Churchill.
An animated reggae-singing mouse that has become a children's television hit on the BBC has sparked complaints from parents who fear the show is racist and encourages the use of slang. Mothers on online parenting forums have even raised fears that the programme could result in playground fights if children try to copy the mouse. Read more >>
If you're in London, don't miss the British Library's Evolving English exhibition, which runs until 3rd April. If you can't make the exhibition, see how you do on this quiz from the 'Evolving English' website.
While many people seem to only speak in other accents when drunk, this kid reveals himself to be an inadvertent dialect savant in this remarkable video. Within eight minutes, he masters two dozen accents used by English speakers. He says that the video is "mostly for his friends," but it's no surprise that such an impressive mimic has received so much attention on YouTube (over 2.3m hits in less than a month—ed.).
We're curious how he's learned all these accents, which he effortlessly flows out in hilarious one-sided phone conversations. (Yes, he even gets the American accents mostly down pat -- rare for even many trained professional actors!) Source: The Huffington Post
COMMENT Surprisingly good—and much more entertaining than the annoying Amy Walker and her 21 accents.
NOTE You can find a transcript of this video and some exercises on 119Eng.com.