This week in languages: August 19, 2016

by on August 19, 2016



Manglerud School in Oslo, Norway will be the first state-run primary school to offer an English curriculum, meaning that all subjects—apart from the Norwegian language—will be taught in English. The Norwegian Language Society (Noregs Mållag), has, however, raised concerns that the move will threaten the status of Norway’s official languages, bokmål and nynorsk.

The trailer for the upcoming sci-fi film Arrival debuted today! Directed by Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, the film introduces the field of Xenolinguistics (or Exolinguistics or Astrolinguistics)—the study of the hypothetical language of alien species—to mass audiences. Actress Amy Adams plays the role of Dr Louise Banks, a translation expert enlisted to help the US Army communicate with aliens on a UFO. “Science fiction is full of examples of humans communicating with aliens, but some examples are better than others. In Aliens and Linguists: Language Study and Science Fiction, Walter E. Meyers points out that science fiction writers often spare their characters the arduous process of learning a language, instead glossing over the intricacies of said language, relying on a method of decoding or explaining the prevalence of English in far-away systems as a kind of “galactic basic.””

Out magazine explores the fascinating world of queer languages, or the words used by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community in the face of discrimination and oppression. Learn about the sociolects of Polari and Goluboy here!

Commentaries and Features

We live in a linguistically-diverse world, one in which over 300 languages are spoken by London residents and in which 49% of New Yorkers speak a language at home that is not English. And that’s not to mention the multitudes of tourists who visit such cities each year. As a result, the importance of native language targeting in marketing and advertising has become more pronounced than ever. It is becoming obvious to brand owners that reaching out to potential consumers in their native language will yield far better results than will ignoring the linguistic diversity of their target market.

Coverage and commentaries of the Rio Olympics this year have been called out over sexist remarks that show discrimination against female athletes who have been judged by their appearance, marriage status, and in relation to their spouses or partners. Cambridge University Press language researcher Sarah Grieves studied the words used to describe these athletes, and found that words relating to ability (i.e. big, fastest, strong) were often used to describe men, whereas words used to comment on female athletes were often related to their marriage status and diminutive (i.e. girl, pregnant, unmarried, married).

Singapore celebrated its 51st national day on August 9. In commemoration, Lisa Lim writes a short reflection on the role of multilingualism in the small Southeast Asian island-nation since its independence in 1965, in Post Magazine. The Oxford Dictionaries has codified five new Singlish terms this month, celebrating the essence of a Singapore life with words such as “shiok” (Malay for ‘great’ or ‘cool’), “hawker centre”, and “ang moh” (‘westerner’; in Hokkien, literally ‘red hair’)! Curious about what Singlish sounds like? Listen to a student from the Nanyang Technological University as he puns around with furniture names in IKEA.

Mark Liberman analyses the prosody in Republican Party nominee Donald Trump’s speeches, and takes on a discussion within this Language Log post about what it says about his socio-political personality.

3 Responses to “This week in languages: August 19, 2016”

  1. Thank you for sharing the article. It was a fascinating read that provided valuable insights into the diverse world of languages. I especially liked the information about the word marketing.

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