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Drumroll please…the Oxford Dictionary have announced the Word of the Year for 2013 and the winner is…SELFIE!


Pronunciation: /?s?lfi/
(also selfy)

noun (plural selfies)


  • a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself every day isn’t necessary


early 21st century: from self + -ie

Although the word has already been incorporated into the online version of the dictionary, its popularity has increased rapidly over the past year, leading to its status of Word of the Year. The increase in the use of this word is illustrated in the diagram below:


It is thought that this neologism first appeared on an Australian online forum, its -ie ending is a popular feature in informal Australian English, which uses shortened spellings of certain words such as ‘tinnie’, ‘barbie’ and of course, ‘Aussie’. The latest developments of the word ‘selfie’ have led to users changing the first letter(s) of the word to give more detail about the content of their photographic self-portraits, for example, the ‘welfie’ (workout selfie), the ‘drelfie’ (drunk selfie) or reality ‘star’ Kim Kardashian’s now infamous ‘belfie’ (a photo of one’s backside).

Click the link to read the Oxford Dictionaries’ blog


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denglischLanguages change and borrow various terms from each other. German is no exception. Stemming from the same language family, English is an ideal source for adopting whole words into the German lexicon and creating hybrids.

For years now one English expression after the other has found its way into the everyday speech of Germans. So the next time you visit Germany you might come across advertising that offers hits for kids or yogurt with weekend feeling. On TV you can watch the Kiddie Contest, Adventure or History Specials and on the radio your can listen to Romantic Dreams or the Highlights of the week. Out and about you might see people who strengthen their bodies with Power Walking and Body Shaping, wearing Tops or Outdoor Jacken. You might end up taking the City Bus and do some Sightseeing, …, and should you get lost just head for an Infopoint.

To read more about Denglisch visit

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There is already a long list of reasons why learning a new language can be a great idea. Languages can help you to progress in your career, expand your cultural awareness and even, simply, make new friends! Now researchers at Edinburgh University and Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India, have provided us with another good reason to explore a new language: it can delay the onset of dementia. Scientists examined almost 650 dementia suffers and found that those who spoke two or more languages experienced a later onset of Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia. The study showed that the advantage of bilingualism even extended to illiterate people.

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quiz 28.10.2013Do you think you have solid language knowledge, then try this language quiz!

This quiz is currently available in 22 languages and all its illustrations have been drawn by Imre Szmodis, a Hungarian cartoonist.


What is Esperanto?

How many Welsh speakers are there in the UK?

Follow this link and find out:

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Learning a language is a tricky business. Apart from working hard to build up basic vocabulary, one has to get to grips with grammar, spelling and word order. You learn rule after rule and then the exceptions to the rules. However, one of the trickiest aspects of language learning is the spoken word and with it pronunciation.

 If you would like to test your pronunciation abilities try to read the following verses aloud:

 “The Chaos”

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy. puzzled
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

This poem was written by G. Nolst Trenite. To read the full poem visit:


Sápmi Flag

There is no shortage of minority languages throughout Europe, even in the UK alone there are several speakers of languages such as Cornish, Manx, Scottish Gaelic and Aldernay French to name but a few. It is believed that in Europe alone there are approximately 120 minority languages that are on their way out – in fact, worldwide a language is thought to die every few weeks! So what can we do to preserve these languages that create such an important part of our culture and identity?  Nils Rune Utsi from Maze, a small village in northern Norway, has created a rap group known as Slincraze in order to preserve and promote his local language, Sami, whilst fighting stereotypes about his local community. Sami is spoken by only 20,000 people inhabiting the arctic area of Sápmi and is classified as a branch of the Uralic language family.

Check out one of Slincraze’s rap videos on the BBC News website:

language-arts-reading-materialMinna Houtilainen of the University of Helsinki said that unborn babies can remember words that they hear frequently. So mothers and fathers-to-be who speak with or read to the baby during pregnancy might already nurture the child’s language skills. According to the Finnish research an unborn baby’s brain can adapt to the various sounds it hears. This is said to be a sign ‘of very early language learning’.

To read the full article visit:


According to a recent study completed at the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School of Music singing in a foreign language can improve significantly one’s foreign language skills.

The study consisted of five tests which were concluded by three arbitrarily allocated groups of twenty adults and which showed the various improvements in learning Hungarian. The Hungarian language was specifically picked singas it is not commonly spoken by most English speakers and tricky to learn due to the various differences in structure and sound in comparison with Germanic and Roman languages for example.

 The participants of the singing group were asked to listen to short phrases in Hungarian and sing them back afterwards. This group completed the study with the best results, coming first in four out of five tests.

Dr Kraren M. Ludke, who completed this research, said “This study provides the first experimental evidence that a listen-and-repeat singing method can support foreign language learning”.

To read the full article visit:

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Lost Languages You Rock!

In many respects language is our culture – so it’s wonderful to see how one Native American tribe is keeping alive its dying language Yurok:


The dying language of the Yurok Native American tribe.

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