Monday, March 01, 2010

A word a day, my favourite sites about words.

Thank you once again Anu Garg! Your site, is a real treasure!
Here is a very interesting text in today's edition of Anu Garg's newsletter:

To subscribe to his newsletter and discover his precious online work:

" Recently I visited London to attend a wedding. The bride had graduated from Oxford, and among the invitees were some of her fellow graduates and a professor. During the long ceremony, we intermittently chatted about London weather, Gordon Brown, Queen Lizzie, and language.

Among other things, we talked about the differences between British and American English. I recalled reading about the inroads American English is making even in the UK, so I decided to carry out an experiment to find to what extent American English had "corrupted" English English.

I told them that sometimes the British write certain numerals (e.g. 1 and 7) differently from how they're written in the US, and asked them to write a short sentence so I could see if there were other differences in the script.

I quickly thought of a sentence for them to write:
"Her favorite flavors were in the gray catalog, she realized."

I said it aloud and the five Oxonians and the Oxford don kindly wrote it down on their napkins (serviettes). I collected the napkins and then told them about the experiment -- it had nothing to do with handwriting. In reality, that sentence had five words that could be written with American or British spellings (favorite/favourite, flavor/flavour, gray/grey, catalog/catalogue realize/realise).

Of the six people who participated in the experiment, three spelled (spelt) everything the British way. The other three had one or more words spelled in American English.

What does this experiment prove? Not much, according to my 12-year-old daughter, "Your sample size is too small."

Language, by its very definition, is a vehicle of exchange. A language means nothing in vacuum. When two people share, they give and take, though the movement is not always equal in both directions. US export of movies, television, music, books, technology, etc. includes something that goes through under the radar: Language.

Will American English take over the other Englishes? Probably not. Will the English language diverge into distinct languages just as Latin turned into French, Spanish, Italian and other languages? Hope not.

But who knows? Only time can tell, but in the meantime let's celebrate the diversity of languages by learning words English has borrowed from some of the less-known languages: Hungarian, Hebrew, Nootka, Afrikaans, and Persian. Even though they're not as well-known to most of us, they are still spoken by thousands or millions of people."

I'm way more than a little proud to be quoted in his second book, Another word a day, on page 122! Anu Garg has written three books which are all in my library! Well, on my bedside table!

And Anu's site has long been in this blog's tags.

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