Language in the news – 10 March 2013

by Craig Evans

With essay deadlines and exam dates always looming, it can be easy for us students to lose track of what’s happening with language in the wider world. For this reason, I have sifted out the highlights of the language-related stories that have been making the news over the past week. Here are my picks:

UK news….

New drug trials for ‘glue ear’ – Researchers at Cardiff University are trialling oral steroids as a treatment for ‘glue ear’, a condition that is a primary cause of hearing problems in children. If successful, the drug will provide a quick and non-surgical treatment for children whose speech and learning development is affected by the condition.

Irish language festival in East Belfast – A festival has been organised to promote the Irish language in Northern Ireland, which one of the organisers, Linda Irvine, describes as having been ‘politicised’. The festival opened on Friday with a bilingual play, and will continue through the week with live music and language classes.

MP denies having been ordered to attend ‘language classes’ – Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, David Ward, has denied reports that he agreed to work with Lib Dem Friends of Israel to learn about using ‘proportionate language’ when expressing his views. This follows reaction to controversial comments he made about Jewish people that have been publically condemned by his party.

Welsh language standards plans rejected – The Welsh Language Commissioner, Meri Huws, has denied claims that her role has been undermined following the rejection of her plans for the standard of Welsh used in public bodies. Welsh government minister Andrew Leighton rejected the plans in February for being too complex.

International news…

Defamation case against broadcast news in US – A meat company in America has brought a 1.2 billion dollar lawsuit against television journalists who used the words ‘pink slime’ to describe their beef products. The products, which featured on a number of stories last March, were described as ‘pink slime’ by high profile journalists such as Diane Sawyer. The term went viral, and since then Beef Products Inc have suffered a decline in business, which they attribute to the association of the term. Commentators believe the case will ‘highlight the power of language in the Internet Age’.

Swiss watchmaker publishes annual report in dialect with no written standard form – Swiss watchmaker, Swatch, are said to have provoked others in the business community by publishing their annual report in a Swiss-German dialect. As there is no standard written form, they have used approximations that will be familiar to most speakers of the dialect. Swatch claim that this is a patriotic act.

Links to language-themed feature stories….

The meaning behind North Korea’s use of ‘bellicose rhetoric’

What do Tesco apologies and Shakespeare sonnets have in common?

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