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European parliament, English not official language after Brexit

English not an official language after Brexit

European parliament, English not official language after Brexit

European parliament hemicycle in Strasbourg / Image credit: Wikipedia

English not official language, MEP warns

According to a senior MEP, English will not be an official EU language after Brexit.

English could lose its status as an official language as apparently no other EU country has English listed as an official language.

Onced Britain leaves the EU, English will be stripped of its status warned Danuta Hübner. Hübner, an economist, is head of the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO).

There are 24 official languages in the EU; the UK identified English as it own official language while Ireland notified Irish and Malta notified Maltese. Both countries also list English as their second official language. However, when Ireland and Malta joined the EU English was already an official language. Therefore both nations opted to list their other official languages instead.

We have a regulation … where every EU country has the right to notify one official language. The Irish have notified Gaelic, and the Maltese have notified Maltese, so you have only the UK notifying English.

Even though English may be removed as an official language, “English is one of the working languages in the European institutions, Hübner commented, adding: “it’s actually the dominating language.” It’s one of the most frequently used by EU civil servants.

If they want to keep English as an official language, the remaining countries would have vote to keep its status unanimously, Hübner noted.

EU Regulations

However, an EU source explained that the regulations governing official languages are themselves subject to more than one translation.

A regulation from 1958 regarding the official languages of the EU, was originally written in French and does not clearly state whether a member country, i.e. Ireland or Malta, can have more than one official language.

Interpretations of the French wording of this body of text concludes that this might be possible, whereas the English version says otherwise.

The regulation states that “if a member state has more than one official language, the language to be used shall, at the request of such state, be governed by the general rules of its law.”

According to reports from the Wall Street Journal, ‘the Commission has already started using French and German more often in its external communications’, after the UK voted to leave the EU last Thursday.

The STAR Team

Source: Politico EU

421 Scots' words for snow

Great Scots! 421 Words for Snow

421 Scots' words for snow

There’s Snow Stopping the Scots!

It has been documented that the Inuits of Greenland, and parts of Alaska, have more than 50 words for snow, but recently we discovered that the Scots have 421 words for snow. You might think that northerly countries like Iceland or Greenland have more words for snow given their freezing temperatures, but the Scots reign supreme for more ways to describe the light, white stuff.

Academics at the University of Glasgow started a project to compile a thesaurus of Scots words. The Historical Thesaurus of Scots is the first of its kind and is being published online. The team of researchers has appealed to the public to send in their own words. They’re even accepting images to illustrate Scots words in all categories.

Always About Weather

Weather and Sport were the first two categories to gain the most entries when the thesaurus was set-up. The game of marbles overtook football for the most synonyms — a staggering 369 words.

“Weather has been a vital part of people’s lives in Scotland for centuries. The number and variety of words in the language show how important it was for our ancestors to communicate about the weather, which could so easily affect their livelihoods.”

“You might expect sports like football and golf to loom large in the thesaurus, but it turns out that there are actually more words relating to marbles – which is an indication of how popular the game has been with generations of Scottish children”, states Dr Susan Rennie, lecturer in English and Scots language at the University of Glasgow.

Other elements of weather like clouds and mist have many entries in the thesaurus.

Some Scots words for Snow

  • snaw — snow
  • snawie — snowy
  • blin-drift — drifting snow
  • skovin — a large snowflake
  • flindrikin — a slight snow shower
  • flukra — snow falling in large flakes
  • spitters — small drops or flakes of wind-driven snow and rain

View all the words and images online at scotsthesaurus.org and follow them on Twitter @scotsthesaurus.

Graham,
The STAR Team

The Magic E in English spelling.

Magic E: Silent but Useful

The Magic E in English spelling.
English spelling rule: The Magic E.

Better English: The Magic E

We’re continuing our Better English blog with the Magic E. Also known as a silent E. This important and popular vowel can change the sound of other vowels, thus lengthening the sound of a word.

Rule of Thumb

If a word ends with a vowel and then a consonant, adding the letter E at then end can change the sound of the previous vowel. The Magic E changes the sound and meaning of a word, yet remains silent. For instance: by changing the sound from short: tap, to a long vowel sound: tape.

We’ve got some examples of words ending with E.

WORD ENDING WITH E
On One
Hat Hate
Bit Bite
Cub Cube
Breath Breathe
Tap Tape
Cod Code
Slim Slime
Win Wine
Sit Site
Quit Quite

Academics refer to the silent E as a marker, which means it doesn’t represent a sound but tells us the sounds of the other letters in the word. A marker makes the nearest vowel to it say its name — its alphabet name — A E I O U.

But there are always exceptions to every rule, especially in the English language.

More examples

  • love
  • glove
  • above
  • have
  • come
  • some
  • none
  • oven
  • cover
  • to live

It would seems like the academics who added the Magic E to lengthen the sound forgot about the old words above.

If you think we’ve left any words out of our lists, or just want to show us how much you know, then let us know in the comments below.

The STAR Team

New words enter OED, 2015

OED Unveils 500 New Words in English

New words in English enter OED, 2015

New Words in English Enter OED, 2015

OED, New Words in English Language

The OED, otherwise known as the Oxford English Dictionary, has recently announced 500 new words and over 900 newly revised and updated words that will be added.

Seems like there are so many that it’s almost impossible to imagine. However, many of the newly updated ones are new senses of the word, go, with about 603. Gosh! Although it’s 51 senses fewer than the longest OED entry, run, according to the OED itself.

One to make headlines though is twerk: a blend of of twitch or twist and jerk. Twitter almost exploded when it was revealed that twerk was, in fact, a pre-existing word — describing a dance that emphasizes the performer’s posterior, it has its roots in the early 1990s New Orleans ‘bounce’ music scene.

Even Older

Twerk goes back farther to its first possible usage in 1820 when it was spelled as twirk: referring to a twisting movement; a twitch. Then it reemerged in 1848 and again in 1901 when it was spelled the way we known it today. Its origin in unclear but the OED believe its influence is from quirk and work “in reference to the dance”.

What else is new?

We’ll cut to the chase and list ones already known, fo’ shizzle!

Along with guerrilla, that has already been established in the Dictionary here are some other phrases incorporating this compound word:

  • guerrilla theatre (1966)
  • guerrilla art (1970)
  • guerrilla gardening (1973)
  • guerrilla knitting (also known as yarn bombing or yarnstorming)

Then there’s that one we “slipped in” — fo’ shizzle (adjective), a slang term originated in the language of rap and hip-hop (2001) and means ‘for sure’.

Others:

  • ecotown (noun): First recorded in 1974. Any new town designed to have a minimal impact on the environment and to facilitate an environmentally responsible lifestyle for everybody.
  • freegan (noun): A person who eats discarded food, typically the refuse of shops and restaurants, for ethical or ecological reasons. It can also be used as an adjective and was first spotted in 1997.
  • e-cigarette (noun): A cigarette-shaped device, first noted in 2007, containing a nicotine-based liquid that is vaporized and then inhaled; simulates the experience of smoking.
  • voluntourism (noun): Tourism in which travellers spend time doing voluntary work on projects, usually for a charity. It was first recorded in 1991.
  • hyperlocal (adjective): Extremely local; first used in 1900.
  • meh (interjection): And interjection, expressing indifference or a lack of enthusiasm and popularized by The Simpsons, but already in use online by 1992 — two years before the series used it.
  • hot mess (noun): A hot mess referred to ‘a warm meal, especially one served to a group’ in 1818, but it’s more commonly used as a slang term for something or someone in extreme confusion or disorder.
  • lipstick (noun): In the world of darts, this is a slang term in use since 2003 for the treble twenty on a dartboard.
  • fratty (adjective): Relating to a college fraternity; typical or characteristic of such a fraternity or its members, especially with reference to rowdy behaviour … has its origins in 1898.
  • twitterati (noun): Users of the social networking service Twitter collectively, typically referring to the group of prolific contributors or those who have high numbers of followers. [2006]
  • webisode (noun): A short video, especially an instalment in a drama or comedy series, which is presented online rather than being broadcast on television. And surprisingly dates back to 1996.
  • SCOTUS (noun): An acronyms for (The) Supreme Court of the United States. [1879]
  • FLOTUS (noun): An acronym for (The) First Lady of the United States. [1983]

Check out the OED’s other new entries such as cisgender and intersectionality, fo’ shizzle! OK — it’s out of my system now.

Graham,
The STAR Team

Arrow pointing at the dots over both i and j, known as tittle

Just a Tittle

Just a title: arrow pointing at the dots over both I and J, known as tittle.
Just a tittle

Just a Tittle Bit

For every jot and tittle in life, there’s an app! Tittle: I really like the sound of this word although I don’t remember the last time I used it. It’s fallen into an abyss where words go because they sound a tad dated. Perhaps the younger generation has never even heard it. You never know though; it sounds like it could be the name of an upcoming app and the word itself is slingshot back into modern usage.

The OED states the meaning of tittle, a singular noun as a tiny amount or part of something. Although there is another meaning of tittle! One I never knew until now. The tittle, or the superscript dot, is the distinguishing mark that appears above both lowercase i and j in writing and print. Yes, there’s a word for those small dots. Amazing!

Origins

Tittle, as a word, has its roots in Late Middle English where it originated from the Latin titulus: small stroke or accent. Tittle is rarely used in modern English and its first known use was recorded in the Christian Bible (Matthew 5:18).

Hold on! I thought the tittle was a diacritic.

Diacritic

The tittle is also referred to as a diacritic, but this is a broader term as diacritics can appear on other letters in the alphabet. This is true for many European languages where diacritics appear as accents, macrons and graves over both vowels and consonants like these guys here: ä, ë, İ, ė, á, â.

Dotted and Dotless

There are several languages that use both the dotted and dotless I in uppercase and lowercase. Modern Turkish uses both dotted (İ i) and dotless (I, ı) as well as Azerbaijani and the Tatar language.

In Irish, bilingual road signs show the dotless lowercase ı to distinguish it from the buailte overdot that appears over consonants: ġ, ċ. Nowadays, an h replaces the diacritic and is thus written as gh and ch.

In some of the Dene group of languages from the Northwest Territories in Canada, both dotted and dotless I are used to distinguish the differences between tone-marked vowels, like í and ì. And in the French speaking province of Quebec in Canada, there are road signs that show the uppercase I with a tittle rendering one such place, Longueuil as LONGUEUİL.

There’s got to be some brands out there that use dotless I in their designs, fonts and logos. If you come across any, please do leave a comment below.

The STAR Team

The Make or Do Quiz

Make or Do Quiz, Better English

Make or Do Quiz, Better English

Take the Make or Do Quiz

When it comes to learning English, the infinitive verbs to do and to make follow a set of rules similar to each other. Let’s explore the definitions of do and make, and their subsequent collocations… Then, take the quiz!

DO

The rules are a little obscure and not so easy to follow. The verb do describes activities and are placed with words such as what, nothing, anything, thing, etc. People generally use do to talk about leisure activities, duties, tasks, jobs and so forth.

Examples*:

  • ‘What shall we do now?’ ‘You can do what you like. I’m going home!’
  • ‘He didn’t do anything. He just sat there.’
  • ‘You expect me to do everything around the house. Well, I’m fed up!’
  • ‘I did all my homework last night so tonight I’m going to do the housework.’
  • ‘I did a lot of research and I think I did a good job on that essay. I did my best anyway.’
  • ‘I intend to do lots of walking on holiday this year, and perhaps some bird-watching too.’

MAKE

The use of the verb make describes when someone is constructing, creating or performing something.

Examples*:

  • ‘I made three suggestions and left it to him to make the final decision.’
  • ‘I’ve made all the arrangements for the trip and I’ve made a great effort to get it all right.’
  • ‘I’m afraid I’m going to have to make my excuses and leave.’
  • ‘I have to make three phone calls.’

QUIZ TIME!

Time to test your knowledge now. It’s not an easy task for an English language learner; it takes time, knowing your usage, learning more and knowing which verbs collocate with which nouns. Give it a try.

Possible Verb Sentence (imperative)
do make …the washing-up and the cleaning
do make …your homework now!
do make …an application for your driving licence.
do make …an impression.
do make …something worth being proud.
do make …a fortune, a mess or a profit.
do make …business (with somebody).
do make …a cake for your sister’s birthday, will you?
do make …an effort to be nice (to someone).
do make …amends for your bad behaviour.
do make …the right thing tonight and be polite to her.
do make Can you…the dinner this evening as I’ll be out until late?
do make …an announcement or a speech.

*Examples taken from the BBC, Learn English online programme.

The STAR Team

Difference between explicitly and implicitly

Do you trust explicitly or implicitly?

When to use explicitly or implicitly
Do you trust explicitly or implicitly? What’s the difference?

When to use explicitly or implicitly

Explicitly and implicitly are two words you may write in a letter or in an email to a dear friend, a confidant or a colleague at work, but some of us still get a little confused.

We either write trust explicitly or trust implicitly. What’s causing this confusion? Aren’t they both the same words!

The short answer is no; they’re not the same nor are they interchangeable.

The adverb, explicitly means, to be clear about something, leaving no room for question or doubt; to be clear in a detailed manner. While implicitly, another adverb, means to state something in a way that is not directly expressed. In other words, it is without question; it’s implied.

If you can substitute absolutely for implicitly then you’re on the right track.

Therefore, if you say that you trust her explicitly then you trust her without a doubt. It’s a final decision.

It’s common to say trust implicitly, as your trust is so strong that it goes without saying. There’s no need to be explicit about trust. You’re not trying to avoid any confusion by stating it directly.

We found this short and easy-to-understand comparison between the two.

Quick Recap

Explicitly (adv.)
to be clear about something; leaving no room for question or doubt; to be clear in a detailed manner
Implicitly (adv.)
to state something in a way that is not directly expressed

The STAR Team

Middle East Translation - Free Whitepaper

What’s the difference between specially and especially?

Better English, difference between specially and especially

Difference between specially and especially

Difference Between Specially and Especially in English

It’s probably not something you put much thought into, and just went with whatever sounded right to you. But there are subtle differences between both words.

Instead of just diving in and explaining these differences, let’s start with some sample sentences. Can you tell us if they’re correct or not?

  1. I don’t want to be treated especially.
  2. It’s difficult to learn a new language, especially when you’re older.
  3. The service at the hotel was specially good.
  4. His speech was written specially for this occasion.

Which ones would you like to change?

Warning: the answers are at the bottom!

The Explanations

Figured them out yet? If not, then perhaps the definition of each will help…

Both are adverbs; they are not interchangeable, although in some instances they can be reversed.

Specially
Used to mean for a particular purpose

Examples (of specially in use):

  • This shower gel is specially designed for people with sensitive skins.
  • This computer programme is specially for children with learning difficulties.
  • My father made this model aeroplane specially for me.
Especially
Used to mean above all or particularly
Often used before adjectives; meaning particularly

Examples (of especially in use):

  • These butterflies are particularly noticeable in April and May, especially in these meadows.
  • You’ll enjoy playing tennis at our local club, especially on weekdays when it’s not so busy.
  • The road between Cairo and Alexandria is especially dangerous at night.
  • It’s a bit nippy, but it’s not especially cold for this time of year.

Special — Especial

The adjective especial is rarely used today. It’s only use is confined to particular contexts where it collocates with nouns, e.g. especial interest, especial value. Especial is only used to emphasize the exceptional value or nature of what is is describing.

The other adjective special means important, or something that is different from the norm.

Examples (of special in use):

  • You’re a special person…
  • On special occasions…
  • In special situations…
  • She is a special adviser…
  • Special effects
  • Special offer!

The Answers

Feeling learned! Do you have your answers at the ready?

At the beginning, we asked you which sample sentences are correct and which ones aren’t…

  1. Incorrect: it’s specially NOT especially
  2. Correct: it’s especially
  3. Incorrect: it’s especially NOT specially
  4. Both: it’s correct to use both adverbs in that example, but it’s common to use especially!

The STAR Team

Examples of use from the BBC’s Learn English courses

What’s the difference between Spelled and Spelt ?

Difference between spelled and spelt

Difference between spelled and spelt

Difference Between Spelled and Spelt in English

English language tenses are relatively straightforward compared to other European languages. Although some verbs are regular, there are many irregular ones.

Take for instance, the irregular verb “spell“. Its past tense and past participle are both “spelled” and “spelt“. But how do you know which one to use?

Well, both words are interchangeable. You can choose either one!

Spelt

Spelt has more than one meaning: it’s a hardy wheat grown mostly in Europe and it’s also the past participle of “spell”. In this case, we’re talking about the verb “spell”, which means to form words letter by letter in the correct sequence and to spell something out i.e. ‘He will spell out the problem again.’

It is chiefly British but had been widely used in American English until the early 1900s when “spelled” became more common.

Spelled

This spelling of the word is both past tense and past participle.

Conjugation of to spell
Base Form Spell
Past Simple Spelled / Spelt
Past Participle Spelled / Spelt
3rd person Singular Spells
Present participle / *Gerund Spelling

*Gerund: a verb which functions as a noun, in English, ending in ‘-ing’ e.g. ‘asking’ in ‘do you mind my asking you?

Graham,
The STAR Team

ICYMI: A Slew of New Words Enter English

New words enter English

New English words enter Oxford English Dictionary

New Words Enter English, Oxford English Dictionary

This year sees a slew of  “cray” words being entered into the Oxford English Dictionary. You may have heard or read them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Oxford University Press

The Oxford University Press has one of the largest language research programmes in the world. Their most important resources are the Oxford English Corpus and the Reading Programme.  Their Corpus consists of large documents sourced from the World Wide Web, while the Reading Programme is electronic and gathers information from a collection of sentences, song lyrics, extracts taken from a variety of literary fiction and non-fiction and also scientific journals.

International Community

It is held together by the contribution of an international network of readers who sift through these sources on the lookout for new words, their meanings and other language changes. The Reader research is all put forward for the Oxford English Dictionary.

New Word Sources

Many words that have made frequent contribution to the OED come from online communication, i.e. social media and internet slang, pop culture, film and literature, and even new ones typically churned out by tech-savvy reviewers. If there is sufficient evidence to back up a word’s prolonged usage [a new word used by more than one writer] then the Readers at OED investigate to give a clear definition and origin of this word. Once a word has been selected, it becomes a candidate for inclusion into the OED.

It’s all part of keeping the English language modern and alive.

We have always been interested in new words in the Oxford English Dictionary, as we’ve used a number of them in our blogs and social media posts.

We’ve put together the latest collection of new words that found a home in the OED:

New Word Definition New Word Definition
acquihire the instance of hiring a company to acquire the skills & expertise of its staff hot mess a person or thing that is spectacularly unsuccessful or disordered
adorbs arousing great delight; cute & adorable hot mic a microphone that is turned on, in particular, one that amplifies or broadcasts a spoken remark that was intended to be private
air punch the act of thrusting one’s fist into the air, typically as a gesture of victory humblebrag an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud
amazeballs impressive; extremely good or amazing hyperconnected characterized by the widespread or habitual use of devices that have Internet connectivity
anti-vax opposed to vaccination e.g. ‘anti-vax parents’ ICYMI abbreviation: In case you missed it (used in electronic communication to draw attention to something noteworthy)
baller extremely good, impressive or excellent in silico (of scientific experiments or research) conducted or produced by means of computer modelling or computer simulation
bare very or rarely: used as an intensifier e.g. that boy’s bare bold listicle an article on the Internet presented in the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed list
bedroom tax (Welfare Act in the UK) amount of housing benefit paid to a claimant is reduced if the property they are renting is judged to have more bedrooms than necessary live-tweet to post comments about (an event) on Twitter while the event is taking place
binge-watch watching multiple episodes or films in rapid succession mansplain (of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing
brick cause (a smartphone or the like) to become completely unable to function on a permanent basis nailed on constituting a certainty; guaranteed to happen or definitely the case
bro-hug [another term for man hug] a friendly embrace between two men neckbeard a growth of hair on a man’s neck, especially when regarded as indicative of poor grooming
catfish to lure someone into a relationship by adopting a fictional online persona olinguito a small nocturnal tree-dwelling mammal living in cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador; first described in 2013, it is the smallest member of the raccoon family
clickbait (on the Internet) content, especially that of a sensational or provocative nature, whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular Web page pharmacovigilance the practice of monitoring the effects of medical drugs after they have been licensed for use, especially in order to identify and evaluate previously unreported adverse reactions
cord cutter a person who cancels a television subscription or landline phone connection in favour of an alternative Internet-based or wireless service pogonophobia extreme dislike of beards
cotch to spend time relaxing side boob side part of a woman’s breast, as exposed by a revealing item of clothing
cray short for ‘crazy’ side-eye a sidelong glance expressing disapproval or contempt
doncha short for’ don’t you’ SMH shaking (or shake) my head (used in e-communication to express disapproval, exasperation, frustration, etc.)
douchebaggery obnoxious or contemptible behaviour spit take (especially as a comic technique) an act of suddenly spitting out liquid one is drinking in response to something funny or surprising
dox / doxx to search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent subtweet (on Twitter) a post that refers to a particular user without directly mentioning them, typically as a form of furtive mockery or criticism
e-cig another term for electronic cigarette trackback an automatic notification sent when a link has been created to a person’s blog post from an external website, allowing a reciprocal link to that website to be created
fandom fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc. regarded collectively as a community or subculture trigger warning a statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc. alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material
FML F**k my life! (used to express dismay at a frustrating or irritating personal situation) vape inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device
fratty characteristics or a student fraternity or its members vax a vaccine or vaccination
hench (of a man) being strong, fit, and having well-developed muscles WDYT abbreviation: What do you think? (used in electronic communication)
hexacopter an unmanned helicopter having six rotors YOLO abbreviation: You only live once (expressing the view that one should make the most of the present moment without worrying about the future, and often used as a rationale for impulsive or reckless behaviour)
hot diggity used to express excitement or delight at a situation zonkey the hybrid offspring of a donkey and a zebra

WDYT

The majority of them are pretty new to us too. Let us know what you think of them. Do you use any in your vocabulary?

Graham,
The STAR Team