Saturday, August 9, 2008

New English Words for ESL Students

In an earlier ESL post, I had talked about how new words were constantly being added to the dictionary through their popular usage. I mentioned how it kept the language ever evolving and colorful. The other day while driving , I was listening to NPR as is my habit. I often recommend NPR to my students to listen to , for practicing listening skills and for learning new words. A very interesting topic came on regarding the ever-changing English language. My ears pricked up and I kept the station on that channel.
Essentially the show was interviewing a language consultant, Jeremy Butterfield , and he was talking about some odd words that he had come across as well as an electronic database of more than 2 billion words. This database is called the Oxford English Corpus, words that are mainly collected from the World Wide Web.
Some of the words he mentioned were:

Damp squid - meaning something that is disappointing. The phrase actually is a mutation of the word "damp squib" meaning a damp firework that won't go off, therefore causing disappointment.
404 - a failure (as in the 404 error message you get when a website is not available)
high dudgeon - a feeling of intense anger and indignation.

Listen to the interview in full by following the link and learn about the changing nature of the English Language.

Another great story to listen to is on the BBC website , and they talk about other new words that have been included in the dictionary.

If you need help with the ever-changing English language, I am a qualified ESL Tutor. You can reach me by: