Lessons in the "Language" Category

How the internet is affecting how we learn and speak English

Today, let’s talk about how the internet is affecting the way we speak and learn English. Perhaps a good example is this British English lesson that stems from the internet.

The World Wide Web today offers people many ways to learn and speak English. Web pages include news, movie clips and social networking sites. All offer a fast instant learning process.

Category: Language / English / Internet

Trench talk…and how we use it today when speaking

Today, let’s talk about some words that are used in everyday English that originate from the trenches of World War One. Really?

You’d be surprised just how many words there are, for example, bloke, binge drink, wash out, and snapshot. Research has been done by military historian Peter Doyle and Julian Walker, an etymologist, who have analysed thousands of documents from the period to trace how language changed during the period.

Category: Language / English Language / Trench Talk

Why English is the most important language in the world

Today, let’s talk about why English is the most important language in the world. Considering the size of the country it beggars belief how the English language has remained at the forefront of languages students desire to learn. Of course, the question is why? There are many answers to this. In this lesson we will explore a few thoughts on this subject.

Category: English / History / Importance of English

South Sudan adopts English as its official language

Africa’s newest country South Sudan has adopted English as its official language. Why? Because its new leaders believe English will make them “different and modern”.

After decades of civil war, the widespread learning of English will present some serious challenges for a country brought up learning a form of Arabic. It represents a major change after decades of Arabisation and Islamisation by their former rulers in Khartoum, Sudan. The predominantly Christian and African south by opting for English as its official language has taken a bold decision, as most of the country’s education system is very short of resources and most people are illiterate.

Edward Mokole at the Ministry of Education: “From now on all our laws, textbooks and official documents have to be written in that language. Schools, the police, retail and the media must all operate in English.”

Category: Africa / South Sudan / Learning English

The origins of the word ‘OK’

There are many thoughts as to the origin of the word OK. It is likely to have had African origins. The first written use of the word OK was in Tennessee, America, in 1790. An Andrew Jackson wrote: "Proved a bill of sale from Hugh McGary to Gasper Mansker, for a Negro man, which was O.K.”

However, in the American Choctaw Indian language, there is a word okeh, which means "it is so". It is likely this word was used in some American communities in the early 19th century.

In 1815, a William Richardson who had travelled from New Orleans wrote in his diary: ‘We travelled to NY we arrived OK.’ The Boston Morning Post is credited with introducing the word ‘OK’ (all correct) on 23rd March 1839 in the midst of a long paragraph. In 1840, one presidential candidate Martin van Buren was nicknamed ‘Old Kinderhook’ (OK), as he was a native from Kinderhook, NY.

During the 1830s & 1840s comical abbreviations flourished in the American press, thus helping spread the word. In the 1860s, British people were taught not to use this ‘American word’, as one wouldn’t be speaking ‘correct’ English.

Category: USA / Origin of Words / OK

Oxford compiles top 10 irritating phrases

Researchers have recently compiled a list of the most irritating phrases - Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported. Heading the list was the expression ‘at the end of the day’ which was followed by the phrase ‘fairly unique’. In third place was ‘I personally’. This expression BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphries has described as “the linguistic equivalent of having chips with rice.”

Also making the top ten is the grammatically incorrect ‘shouldn’t of’, instead of “shouldn’t have”. These phrases appear in a new book called Damp Squid, named after the mistake of confusing a squid with a squib, a type of firework.

The phrases were compiled by researchers onto a database called the Oxford University Corpus, which comprises papers, magazines, books, broadcast material, the internet and other sources. The database alerts them to new words and phrases. It can also tell them which expressions are disappearing. In addition it shows how words are being misused.

Category: English Language / English / Phrases