One Woman, 17 British Accents

≡ Category: English Language |3 Comments

In April, we featured a tour of 14 British accents in 84 seconds. But as any commenter to that video will tell you, such a selection only scratches the surface of the variety of ways a given Briton could potentially speak English.


The CIA’s Style Manual & Writer’s Guide: 185 Pages of Tips for Writing Like a Spy

≡ Category: English Language, Politics, Writing |2 Comments

Along with toppling democratically elected governments, funneling money illegally to dubious political groups and producing pornographic movies about heads of state, the Central Intelligence Agency has also been fiendishly good at manipulating language.


Steven Pinker Uses Theories from Evolutionary Biology to Explain Why Academic Writing is So Bad

≡ Category: Education, English Language, Harvard, Psychology |1 Comment

I don’t know about other disciplines, but academic writing in the humanities has become notorious for its jargon-laden wordiness, tangled constructions, and seemingly deliberate vagary and obscurity.


The Speech Accent Archive: The English Accents of People Who Speak 341 Different Languages

≡ Category: Archives, English Language |1 Comment

Over the years, I’ve met with several foreign speaking partners. Through conversation, I learn their language — Spanish, Korean, Japanese — and they learn mine — English.


Do Rappers Have a Bigger Vocabulary Than Shakespeare?: A Data Scientist Maps Out the Answer

≡ Category: English Language, Music |3 Comments

Each year brings us a new list of words that, once hip or subcultural, signal their admission into the mainstream by entering the pages—print or online—of the Oxford English Dictionary or Merriam Webster’s. Many of those come from the world of hip hop.


A Brief Tour of British Accents: 14 Ways to Speak English in 84 Seconds

≡ Category: English Language |13 Comments

Americans, coming from the enormous and relatively recently settled place we do, tend to have a hard time with accents, struggling to grasp the extent of the variety of regional ways of speech in smaller, older countries, let alone to use them ourselves.


Opening Sentences From Great Novels, Diagrammed: Lolita, 1984 & More

≡ Category: English Language, Literature |Leave a Comment

I admit it: I still don’t understand sentence diagramming. Though as a middle schooler I dutifully, if grudgingly, submitted to that classic English classroom exercise, the practice didn’t stick, nor did whatever habit of composition it meant to convey.


New “Hemingway” App Promises to Make Your Writing “Strong and Clear”

≡ Category: English Language, Literature, Writing |8 Comments

I confess, I prefer Faulkner to Hemingway and see nothing wrong with long, complex sentences when they are well-constructed. But in most non-Faulkner writing, they are not. Stream of consciousness is a deliberate effect of carefully edited prose, not the unrevised slop of a first draft.


David Foster Wallace Creates Lists of His Favorite Words: “Maugre,” “Tarantism,” “Ruck,” “Primapara” & More

≡ Category: English Language, Literature, Writing |6 Comments

Everyone I know has a list of least-favorite words. For various reasons, “moist” always seems to make the top three. But perhaps it takes a writer—someone who savors the sounds, textures, and histories of peculiar words—to compile a list of their most-favorites.


The International Children’s Digital Library Offers Free eBooks for Kids in Over 40 Languages

≡ Category: Books, Education, English Language, K-12, Language Lessons |2 Comments

For all of the free literature and essays available online, a surprisingly small amount is geared toward children. Even less is aimed at children who speak foreign languages.
The International Children’s Digital Library offers children ages 3-13 free access to the best available children’s literature in more than 40 languages.


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