What's happening at Dialog and in language training worldwide.

The Guardian   April 19, 2015

Achingly unacceptable: the bad language that bugs me

A great linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure, once wrote: “Time changes all things; there is no reason why language should escape this universal law.” That truth anyone who thinks about language must immediately recognise...

The Wall Street Journal   March 16, 2015

There Is No 'Proper English'

It's a perpetual lament: The purity of the English language is under assault. These days we are told that our ever-texting teenagers can't express themselves in grammatical sentences. The media delight in publicizing ostensibly incorrect usage. A few weeks ago...

The Economist   March 14, 2015

Dreaming in English

IN 2004 THE historian Samuel Huntington published a bleak and at times nasty book about Mexican immigrants to America, fretting about their numbers, their Catholic values, their fertility and the threat they posed to the English language...

The Wall Street Journal   March 2, 2015

Things You Need to Know About Learning a Foreign Language

IF YOU DON'T speak the local language of your new home, try to learn. You will have ups and downs. Count on it. When I was learning Spanish, I replied ...

The New York Times   February 28, 2015

When Your Punctuation Says It All

I went out with a guy based on his use of dashes once. Within moments of our first interaction - over text message - I was basically in love. He didn't just use the lazy singular ...

Fast Company   February 17, 2015

Y'all Vs. You All: Mapping The Linguistic Peculiarities Of American English

These heat maps of the U.S. break down how people use language and pronounce words differently in different parts of the country: Soda vs. pop, sub vs. hero, water fountain vs. ...

The New Yorker   February 4, 2015

Is Bilingualism Really an Advantage?

In 1922, in "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus," the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." The words that we have at our disposal affect what we see-and the more words there are, the better our perception. When we learn to speak a different language, we learn to see a bigger world...

The New York Times   January 18, 2015

How to say om nom nom in Hungarian, and other onomatopoeic insights

PORTLAND, Ore. - "It is a solemn and important duty we have," Allan Metcalf, a grandfatherly looking man, said into a microphone. He was standing in front of a crowd of the nation's top linguists, many of whom were still...

The New York Times   December 27, 2014

Making Language Immersion Fun for the Kids

It was summer in Tuscany. The rolling hills were adorned with their famous haystacks. The cypress trees were majestically verdant against the golden backdrop. We were in the picturesque Renaissance town Pienza, its spire shooting up into a cloudless sky...

The New York Magazine   December 21, 2014

The Perks of Bickering in a Second Language

On the most recent episode of "On the Media," there was a really interesting segment in which Brooke Gladstone spoke with Boaz Keysar and Albert Costa, two researchers working on the question of how bilingual people might make certain decisions differently depending on which language the decision is described in...

The Economist   December 19, 2014

Towards a fairer distribution

TRANSLATION and interpretation in matters of diplomacy is tricky. Language enthusiasts particularly enjoy the story of the Treaty of Wuchale, signed between Ethiopia and Italy in 1889. The text didn't read the same in Amharic and Italian. The former guaranteed Ethiopia's king Menelik II a good measure...

The Guardian   December 17, 2014

How to say om nom nom in Hungarian, and other onomatopoeic insights

We all have our tastes when it comes to style. Last month it was revealed that Time magazine's are fairly conservative. Its suggestion that the word "feminist" be banned sparked a furore (it subsequently apologised). It also recoiled at the slangy use...

The Guardian   December 15, 2014

8 pronunciation errors that made the English language what it is today

Someone I know tells a story about a very senior academic giving a speech. Students shouldn't worry too much, she says, if their plans "go oar-y" after graduation. Confused glances are exchanged across the hall. Slowly the penny drops...

The Guardian   December 12, 2014

Do you speak Uglish? How English has evolved in Uganda

A book has attempted to an unlock 'one of the funniest and strangest English varieties in the world'. Are you a Uglish speaker? Or fond of another type of colloquialism? Tell us about it...

The Guardian   December 9, 2014

The sudden death of the English Academy

I applaud the French Academy's attempt to stop people using the hideous English term "upcycling". Not only is the academy's suggested French replacement, "recyclage valorisant", more elegant; it also helps explain what upcycling - turning discarded products into better...

The Guardian   November 30, 2014

Surreal in translation: Matt Lindley and Marcus Oakley's foreign proverbs - in pictures

The cat is out of the bag: proverbs sound ridiculous when they're translated. London-based writer Matt Lindley has become fascinated with how foreign idioms translate into surreal phrase...

The Financial Times   November 30, 2014

Sloan translates the language of learning

At first glance it looks like any other executive education class: middle-aged students bend over laptops and iPads and a bow-tied lecturer clicks through a PowerPoint presentation. Every so often a student raises a hand with a question; and on occasion, the room explodes with laughter when the professor cracks a joke...

The Financial Times   November 30, 2014

Shanghai English learners outscore Hong Kong

People learning English in Shanghai have scored higher in fluency tests than those in the rival financial centre of Hong Kong for the first time, according to a study ranking proficiency in the language in 63 countries worldwide...

The Guardian   November 28, 2014

Travel quiz: languages of the world

Do you know when it's appropriate to say 'namaste'? Or in which language 'cerveza' means beer? Or do you find things just get lost in translation? Prove your knowledge of world languages with the following quiz...

The Guardian   November 21, 2014

Journey to the center of the global English debate

If you read the Guardian's recent story about the opening in New York of the tallest building in the western hemisphere, did you notice the headline? The newspaper version was "Manhattan transfer: workers move into One World Trade Center"; online, it was...

NYMAG   November 19, 2014

Smile, You're Speaking EMOJI

There it is, that little squiggle, hanging out on the far-upper-left-hand side of your ­ computer keyboard. The symbol dates back to ancient Greece, though tilde comes from Spanish, and in modern English it's used to indicate "approximately" (e.g., ~30 years) or "equivalence" (x ~ y) in mathematics. And, as of this year, according to...

The Guardian   October 30, 2014

Learning a language - 10 things you need to know

You have decided to learn another language. Now what? On our recent live chat our panellists first piece of advice was to ask yourself: what do you want to achieve and by when? Donavan Whyte, vice president of enterprise and education at Rosetta Stone, says...

The Telegraph   October 16, 2014

Easiest foreign languages: in pictures

The English language is closely related to many Germanic and Romance dialects, so when it comes to language study English speakers aren't starting from scratch. As a survey reveals British teenagers are the worst in Europe at foreign languages, Anne Merritt reveals the 10 easiest to learn from scratch...

The New York Times   October 6, 2014

Slang for the Ages

EVERYONE knows that slang is informal speech, usually invented by reckless young people, who are ruining proper English. These obnoxious upstart words are vapid and worthless, say the guardians of good usage, and lexicographers like me should be preserving language that has a lineage, well-bred words with wholesome backgrounds, rather than recording the modish vulgarities of street argot....

The New York Times   October 5, 2014

Old Dog, New Trick

The French will tell you there's only one way for an adult to learn their language: pillow talk. "Ah, you need a French lover," they say. "Then you will be able to speak."...

The Guardian   September 15, 2014

The ultimate internet glossary: from 4chan to Zynga

Know your lolz from your lulzsec, and your belfies from your selfies? Hannah Jane Parkinson is here to help with an almost definitive list of digital geekery...

British Council   September 7, 2014

Should English be used as a university's language of instruction in a non-English speaking country?

As more and more non-English speaking universities teach courses using English as the medium (or language) of instruction, the British Council's Anne Wiseman and Adrian Odell look at some of the questions this raises for lecturers and their students...

British Council   September 6, 2014

How to teach which words go together: Corpora in English language teaching

What verb does 'negotiation' go with? Do you 'make' or 'conduct' a negotiation? Adam Kilgarriff, Director of Lexical Computing, explains how 'corpora' can help us answer such questions where dictionaries meet their limits. He presented a...

The New York Times   August 25, 2014

The Reality of English's Role in India

This question has yet to appear in any objective-type exam, but it has long bothered Indian society and is at the heart of a protest by hundreds of young Indians who are objecting to, among other things, the intrusion of English in one of India's most prestigious tests - the civil services examination...

The Telegraph   August 24, 2014

Alan Titchmarsh: our evolving English language is amazeballs

If you ask me, I think it's really wicked that "amazeballs" has made it into the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Of course, there will be those who throw up their hands in horror that the sacred English language - which, in the words of that noted philologist and phoneticist Prof Henry Higgins, is the...

Issuu   August 24, 2014

How to Say It

Choice words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs for every situation...

Fast Company   August 20, 2014

Precision in Language Redux

Dynamic communication skills are one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success. If you want to become a dynamic communicator, you need to develop three important skills. You must become an excellent conversationalist. You must learn to write clearly and succinctly. You must learn to create and deliver dynamic presentations...

The Economist   August 18, 2014

Johnson: What is a foreign language worth?

JOHNSON is a fan of the Freakonomics books and columns. But this week's podcast makes me wonder if the team of Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt aren't overstretching themselves a bit. "Is learning a foreign language really worth it?", asks the headline...

The Economist   August 18, 2014

How a dialect differs from a language

HONG KONG'S education department caused a furore last month by briefly posting on its website the claim that Cantonese was "not an official language" of Hong Kong. After an outcry, officials removed the text. But was the claim correct? The law says that "Chinese and English" are Hong Kong's official languages...

The Guardian   August 18, 2014

Congratulations, you've got the job - as long as you can master a new language

You may not remember the summer of 1995, but I do. It was sunny every day and roastingly hot, and I spent pretty much all of it sweating in a classroom in Lampeter trying to learn Welsh from scratch. I'd just been appointed public affairs officer for the RSPB in Wales. It was my first...

Wired   August 13, 2014

Mark Vanderbeeken: The English Language Innovation Bias

There are many reasons for the international business community to be grateful to the English language. English is the dominant business language precisely because it gives the global community access to itself - it is widely spoken, lacks the grammatical complications of the romance languages, and has a simple alphabet that lends itself easily to use on the internet...

Business Insider   August 13, 2014

The Most Commonly Spoken Language In Every New York Neighborhood Isn't English Or Spanish

New York City is an extremely cosmopolitan place, and walking around the city, one often hears a plethora of languages being spoken. The American Community Survey is a massive annual effort by the Census Bureau to measure various aspects of American life. Among many other things, respondents are asked if they...

The Guardian   August 9, 2014

Quiz: How well do you know internet slang?

The internet has a language all of its own - but how fluent are you in online patois?..

The New Yorker   August 4, 2014

Word Magic

Once, in a restaurant in Italy with my family, I occasioned enormous merriment, as a nineteenth-century humorist would have put it, by confusing two Italian words. I thought I had, very suavely, ordered for dessert fragoline - those lovely little...

The Guardian   July 27, 2014

Wanting it enough: why motivation is the key to language learning?

Second language professionals, after explaining what we do for a living, are inevitably asked "What's the fastest/best/most foolproof method for learning a language?" Some of us like to answer: language by partner, meaning, go to the country and...

The Guardian   July 26, 2014

From 'A' to 'ampersand', English is a wonderfully curious language

This A to Z of word origins, adapted from Haggard Hawks and Paltry Poltroons by Paul Anthony Jones, collects together 26 unusual etymologies - beginning with the last letter of the alphabet...

The Guardian   July 26, 2014

Lack of languages stifles Brits and Americans

Club football managers talk to players in it, scientific researchers email each other in it, global businesses negotiate in it. When even the European Central Bank chooses English as its main language, despite the UK being outside the euro, why should British or American school kids bother learning anything else?..

The Guardian   July 24, 2014

What makes a language attractive - its sound, national identity or familiarity?

Je t'aime, ti amo, te quiero mucho! Sounds nice doesn't it? If you swoon over sweet nothings whispered in French, Italian or Spanish, you're not alone. But while learning to speak a language famed for its romance may increase your sex appeal, the reason for your preference of one vernacular over...

The New York Times   July 21, 2014

How Tests Make Us Smarter

TESTS have a bad reputation in education circles these days: They take time, the critics say, put students under pressure and, in the case of standardized testing, crowd out other educational priorities. But the truth is that, used properly, testing as part of an educational routine provides an important...

The Independent   July 18, 2014

Skype Translator vows to translate multilingual voice calls - but is it any good?

"I can speak Spanish." When those words left the lips of a former colleague, my head turned and my right eyebrow automatically raised. I knew the man well. True, he had visited Spain a few times but surely not enough for him to be able to claim that he could speak the language...

The Guardian   July 2, 2014

11 words that are much older than you think

Sometimes it feels like we must be the snarkiest, slangiest, least-formal generation in human history. What other age could have coined the word chugger, invented ROFL and its many permutations, or seen vocal fry ripple out from Kim Kardashian in an unstoppable wave?...

The New York Times   June 17, 2014

San Antonio Spurs Use Language Barriers to Their Advantage

SAN ANTONIO - The Spurs played seamlessly through all five games of the N.B.A. finals, moving the ball from player to player, from corner to corner, all their effortless teamwork earning them their fifth N.B.A. championship in 16 seasons...

The Financial Times   June 14, 2014

A Guide to (mis)communication

In recent months, a wry little document called the "Anglo-Dutch translation guide" has been tossed between the email boxes of bankers, diplomats, business people and journalists. This lists phrases that are commonly - and completely - misunderstood when English and Dutch people talk to each other...

The Economist   June 10, 2014

Johnson: How hard is English? How weird?

Would it be possible, though, to describe a language's "difficulty" in the abstract? If so, what would it look like? English-speakers often point to a language like Latin or Ancient Greek. Next to them, in one important respect, English is easy. The distinction involves a language's "inflectional morphology", or the bits and pieces added...

The Economist   June 10, 2014

Barbarians at the Gate

THE guardians of Chinese language purity are challenging the French in their bid to keep out dastardly English words. A recent rant in the People's Daily, a Communist Party mouthpiece, said intruders such as "MBA", "CEO", and "iPhone" were not welcome in Chinese when written in their Romanised form...

New York Magazine   June 3, 2014

It's Too Late. Exclamation Marks Are Unstoppable Now

A few weeks ago, I was trying to figure out a happy hour destination with a good friend who was in town for a short time. Every suggestion I sent was met with, "Sure" or "Okay," unaccompanied by any punctuation. After a few rounds of this, I got pretty annoyed. Why does she seem so...

The Cut   June 2, 2014

The 10 Ways That Men Text Women

In general, men don't know how to text. We're slow learners. Even though we're a full decade into the Texting Revolution, our tiny missives are sometimes rude, sometimes girly, and always confusing. We text when...

The Guardian   May 25, 2014

The N-word: do we have to spell it out?

One word is so uniquely offensive that it should never appear in print, some argue. But does that let people using racist language off the hook?

The Guardian   May 24, 2014

Found in translation...when misquoting someone is the best way to be fair and accurate

If a non-English speaker feels like a 'donkey out of water', it's right to change their words to help them get their point across clearly

The Guardian   May 21, 2014

How to say 'vote for me' in India -
447 different ways

With 814m voters, 29 languages spoken by at least 1m people, and 447 mother tongues, India's election is a test of linguistic as well as political skills

The St.Petersburg Times   May 19, 2014

How to Pass the New Russian Language Test

I've detected a slight buzz of panic among Russia's expat community. It seems that a Russian work visa or residence permit will only be issued to those of us who can pass a test on Russian language, culture, history, and even legislation. Кошмар! (What a nightmare!)

The Financial Times   May 17, 2014

Slang Shows Us How Language is Always Changing

For centuries, English's defenders have decried the language's decline. Looking back, it is hard to understand why they created a fuss about words that are now part of polite speech. Sometimes the words that caused uproar, rather than being in general use, seem quaint and dated.

The Guardian   May 9, 2014

I didn't practise any German in bilingual Berlin

It all started to go wrong at the hotel reception. The immaculate staff at the Amano spoke perfect English, I'm not talking the level of English you'd expect in a decent hotel, I mean the kind of English where you can't even place the speaker's native accent.

The Telegraph   May 5, 2014

How good is your grammar?

Are you guilty of using tautology, dangling participles or split infinitives? As Tesco is announced as the winner of the Bad Grammar Award, we put your grammar to the test.

The New York Times   April 24, 2014

Close but Not Quite

It's not enough to pick a word in the general vicinity of what we mean, or something that sounds about right. We should be choosing words precisely and using them with care in sentences.

The Independent   April 18, 2014

Academic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language

Not many Italians speak good English. But nearly all of them are fluent in "Italianglo" - the random insertion of English words into their sentences. And it's about time someone put a stop to it, a leading Italian academic has claimed.

The Guardian   March 23, 2014

My first term of learning of Russian from scratch at university

Today marks my 60th day of learning Russian and I'm so beyond being lost at sea: I'm drowning. It's a blustery afternoon in December and my final oral class for the term. We are feeling cold, tired and utterly demoralised. Our teacher Natasha is desperately trying to start a conversation about

The Guardian   March 22, 2014

From 'A' to 'ampersand', English is a wonderfully curious language

This A to Z of word origins, adapted from Haggard Hawks and Paltry Poltroons by Paul Anthony Jones, collects together 26 unusual etymologies - beginning with the last letter of the alphabet.

The Guardian   March 22, 2014

Language Learning: What Motivates Us?

I wasn't expecting to be the subject of my interview with John Schumann, but the linguistics professor had picked up on my Persian surname. Talking to me from California, where he is one of the world's leading academic voices on language learning, he effortlessly puts my own Farsi to shame...

The Guardian   March 22, 2014

Where did that word come from? - quiz

Many English words are borrowed from other languages. Test your knowledge with our quiz written by Philip Durkin, deputy chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary

The Telegraph   March 21, 2014

When do you correct someone on their misuse of language?

We were watching the snooker, as we usually did in the late spring afternoons, when Eva emerged from the bathroom. Eva was from Barcelona, and was a 10/10 on every measurable scale apart from being a 6/10 on speaking English. She came into the living room in her robe and sighed happily...

The Telegraph   March 20, 2014

Are 'grammar Nazis' ruining the English language?

Imagine a world in which biology was taught using no textbooks written later than 1795; a world in which the advances of the science since the publication of On the Origin of Species - or even since Charles Darwin was born - were ignored. The theory of evolution would remain untaught; the existence of bacteria would never be mentioned. Biologists would be furious. So imagine how...

The Guardian   March 14, 2014

English to English: 'translating' a cultural divide

Since its launch last May, the Guardian's English to English Tumblr project has explored hundreds of topics that cause great confusion (or, at the very least, a bit of head-scratching) to people reading from different locations around the globe.

The Guardian   March 14, 2014

10 Grammar Books to Read Before You Die of Boredom

A seasonal selection of new (and not so new) books about language that are anything but dull

The Guardian   March 14, 2014

Which English? One that promotes understanding between countries and cultures

As the Guardian discusses the most effective ways to write for a global audience that includes readers of different varieties of English, a lot of emphasis is being placed on the differences between...

ABA Journal   March 7, 2014

Bilingual Lawyers Have a Leg Up in Many Niche Practice Groups

Lawyers looking for a leg up in hiring might consider talking the talk of foreign language. According to a survey commissioned by Robert Half Legal, 42 percent of 200 lawyers who are hiring officers see a need for more bilingual attorneys. Most needed (88 percent of those who saw a need) were Spanish-speaking attorneys, while Chinese-speaking skills ranked second at 9 percent.

The New York Times   March 6, 2014

A New SAT Aims to Realign With Schoolwork

Saying its college admission exams do not focus enough on the important academic skills, the College Board announced on Wednesday a fundamental rethinking of the SAT, ending the longstanding penalty for guessing wrong, cutting obscure vocabulary words and making the essay optional.

The Independent   March 6, 2014

Students with English as a second language 'outperform native speakers' in GCSEs

Lord Nash, the Schools Minister, said students who speak English as an additional language (EAL) scored better grades in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) than native speakers. The worst performing group was...

The New York Times   January 28, 2014

Translation as a Performing Art

Thirty years ago I moved to Milan to work for an Italian art magazine called FMR. It was an odd and ambitious enterprise...

The New York Times   January 21, 2014

The 'How Are You?' Culture Clash

The question my Moscow-born friend Galina was referring to had nothing to do with Putin, or Pussy Riot, or the culinary ethics of adding ketchup to your pirogi. And yet, it is the back across which Russian-American relations are broken.

CNNMoney   January 16, 2014

The Hottest Job Skill is...

The Army, NYPD and State Department can't get enough workers with this job skill. Neither can Fortune 500 companies, hospitals, local courts and schools.

The Financial Times   December 26, 2013

Business is creating new forms of English

Bridgestone, the Japanese tyremaker, has announced that it is making English its official language, joining Rakuten, also Japanese, Lenovo of China and European companies such as Nokia and Airbus. But whether they make an official announcement or not, English is now part of the day-to-day life of any business with international operations, used almost every time people have a ...

The New York Times   December 26, 2013

Why Other Countries Teach Better

Millions of laid-off American factory workers were the first to realize that they were competing against job seekers around the globe with comparable skills but far smaller paychecks. But a similar fate also awaits workers who aspire to high-skilled, high-paying jobs in ..

The Financial Times   December 25, 2013

Learn Some Mandarin But Master English Too

Ditch your French and German textbooks and start learning Mandarin, David Cameron told the UK's school pupils after his return from a visit to China last week. The UK prime minister should be happy with any language skills his young compatriots manage to pick up. But it is true that...

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Financial Times February 28, 2014

"Politicians can improve the world but only bit by bit. Try something small, that's easily reversed. If it works, scale it up. If not, you drop it"
Simon Kuper

Read the Article


Every week we publish a business English tip concerning different aspects of business English. Topic areas include writing, speaking, listening, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, exams as well as general English. Just click.

October 14, 2013: Methodology for Learning New Vocabulary

Here are some methods you can use to learn new vocabulary.
When you see a new vocabulary item (new word), always ask these questions:

Is it positive, neutral or negative?

Beautiful is a positive word
Ugly is a negative word
Negotiate is not positive or negative, so it's neutral

Is it formal or informal (casual)?

Cool is a casual word
Negotiate is a formal word

Is it a vocabulary item or an Idiom?

What did you do? (uses vocabulary)
What did you get up to? (uses an idiom / idiomatic phrase)
Negotiate is not positive or negative, so it's neutral

Does the word have a prefix or suffix that you know? (may give you a hint)

Prefix: Unhappy, unfriendly ('un' often a negative prefix)
Suffix: Careless, thoughtless ('less' often a negative suffix)
If you see a new vocabulary item, such as 'undisciplined', you can take a guess that it may be a negative word from looking at the negative prefix, even if you do not know what the word means.

Is it a noun, adjective, verb or adverb?

Can the word be used only as a noun?
Can the word be used as both a verb and an adjective?
Can the word by used as an adverb?

Which context / situation should the word be used in?

'Negotiate' is a strong verb for formal business situations, such as negotiating a contract with a client.
'Negotiate' should not be used in social situations like two friends arguing over paying for drinks at KTV.

Create your own example, preferably about your life,
to demonstrate (show) understanding of the new word; this makes it easier to remember.

I negotiated my salary package with the HR Manager.
I negotiate the delivery date and price with our clients.


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