Dialect Survey Maps

Dialect Survey Maps
Test your American dialect down to your hometown
Based on your responses, the map at right shows the overlap between your speech and the various dialects of American English, as measured by data from the Harvard Dialect Survey, conducted by Bert Vaux and Scott Golder. Try it here.


A project to translate public domain German Sci-Fi novels

der rote Komet Übersetzung deutsch englisch berlin

Bradley Hall writes, “I am trying to get funding via Indiegogo so that I can spend more time translating old public domain German sci-fi books. So far I have translated Robert Heymann’s ‘Der Rote Komet’ (The Red Comet) and am currently working on Bernhard Kellerman’s ‘Der Tunnel’ (The Tunnel). Neither of these books have been translated to English before.”

Via boingboing.net

The Oxford English Dictionary: crowdsourcing since 1857

r-OXFORD-ENGLISH-DICTIONARYcrowdsourcing since 1857
“The word crowdsourcing may be new, but the idea behind it is not, at least not in lexicography,” writes the Oxford Dictionary Blog. “In fact, the entry for crowdsourcing in Wikipedia (itself a stellar example of an effective crowdsourcing model), gives the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as one of the earliest predecessors of today’s largely Internet-based crowdsourcing projects.

Much of the historical and lexical information contained in the OED is based on the evidence of millions of quotations collected from English texts through the dictionary’s Reading Programme. Through this programme, the OED recruits voluntary and paid readers to gather quotations that illustrate the usage of words.

The OED Reading Programme started in 1857, when volunteer readers began to collect quotations for the British Philological Society’s planned New English Dictionary. Two decades later, the dictionary’s new editor, James A. H. Murray, launched a broader Reading Programme by publishing an appeal for volunteer readers, not only in Britain, but also in America and the British Colonies. “Anyone can help,” Murray wrote in his 1879 appeal, and soon after, he began receiving thousands of quotations from hundreds of volunteers, most of whom were interested laypeople instead of language specialists.”

Read on here…

The Great Language Game

The Great Language Game
The Great Language Game challenges you to distinguish between some eighty or so languages based on their sound alone. In each game you’re allowed three mistakes, which are kept for you to study at the end. If you’re feeling competitive, share your score with some friends and compete for some serious bragging rights.

Initial samples were sourced from SBS Australia, reflecting Australia’s rich migrant culture. Since then they’ve been supplemented from Voice of America, and linguistic samples collected to preserve languages. Many are common to international cities throughout the world – they might even be spoken in a neighbourhood near you. Others remind us how vast and varied the world truly is.

’404′ is the Top Word of 2013 followed by fail!, hashtag and @pontifex

The Global Language Monitor has announced that ‘404’ is the Top Word, ‘Toxic Politics’ the Top Phrase and Pope Francis the Top Name of 2013 in its 14th annual global survey of the English language. 404 was followed by fail, hashtag, @pontifex, and the Optic. Rounding out the top ten were surveillance, drones, deficit, sequestration, and emancipate. 404 is the near-universal numeric code for failure on the global Internet, augmenting its original use as ‘page not found’. The single word fail is often used together with 404 to signify complete failure of an effort, project, or endeavor.

“404 has gained enormous attention the world over this year as systems in place since World War II, which many see as the beginning of the contemporary era, are in distress or even failure.” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. ”The recent ObamaCare launch debacle in the US is only a representative example of a much wider system fail, from the political deadlock in the US Government, to the decline of the dollar, to the global web of intrigue and surveillance by the NSA, to the uncertainty regarding the European Union, and the on-going integration of China and other rising powers, such as India and Brazil into the global economic system.”

Our top words, phrases and names this year represent some five continents, which continues to confirm the ever-expanding nature of the English language.”

You find the list of Top words here.

Image from rediff

Queen’s English Society says enuf is enough, innit?

Society formed 40 years ago to protect language against poor spelling and grammar closes because too few people care.

The Guardian reports: “The Queen may be celebrating her jubilee, but the Queen’s English Society, which has railed against the misuse and deterioration of the English language, is to fold.

For 40 years the society has championed good English – and hasn’t been above the occasional criticism of the Queen’s own pronouncements – but it has finally conceded that it cannot survive in the era of textspeak and Twitter.

Having attempted to identify a role for the society and its magazine, Quest, “for the next 40 years”, the society chairman, Rhea Williams, decided it was time to close. She announced the group’s demise in a terse message to members following the annual meeting, which just 22 people attended. “Despite the sending out of a request for nominations for chairman, vice-chairman, administrator, webmaster and membership secretary, no one came forward to fill any role,” she said. “So I have to inform you that QES will no longer exist. There will be one more Quest, then all activity will cease and the society will be wound up. The effective date will be 30 June 2012.”

She said it was sad that the society was to close but added that the difficulty in getting people to take on roles in the society was a problem being experienced by other groups across the UK.

“Things change, people change,” she said. “People care about different things. If you look at lots of societies, lots of them are having problems. Lives have changed dramatically over the last 40 years. People don’t want to join societies like they used to.”

Former Tory MP Gyles Brandreth, the society’s patron, was nevertheless optimistic: “The Queen’s English isn’t under threat. Her Majesty can sleep easy. The language is still in the good hands of all the people who speak good English.”

He described the members and organisers of the society as “a group of enthusiasts celebrating the richness and diversity of the English language”, and is convinced that whether or not enough volunteers can be found to keep the society going, their enthusiasm and love for good English will live on.

He added: “I spoke to the society about six months ago. They were in good heart.”

The closure followed a major setback earlier this year when the society’s plans for an Academy of Contemporary English collapsed.”

Read on at The Guardian.