More Intelligent Life, “Should you teach your kids Chinese?”

May 11, 2010

“Could Chinese gradually assume English’s role as the world’s language of wider communication? I’ll venture a prediction: No. Not as long as Chinese is written in traditional Chinese characters

The Daily Beast, “Fixing Britain’s elections”

May 8, 2010

“Britain’s election has produced a hung parliament, a glum name that reflects the feelings of many Brits about the inconclusive results. Now will begin an unusual process of negotiation between the parties, a prospect many Brits don’t relish. But what Britain dreads is the happy norm in many other European countries, and the election has revived a conversation that has been dormant for a long time in the country: electoral reform

The Economist, “Language books on my bedside table”

May 5, 2010

A new feature on The Economist’s website lets me plug a few of my favorite books on language.

More Intelligent Life, “Don’t make me beg”

May 1, 2010

“When 18 of 20 people use a phrase incorrectly, it’s safe to say that the language has simply moved on. No amount of insisting on an old usage will ever bring it back. As a student of language, I find this process fascinating, and I don’t get too attached to any given word or phrase…Yet I find myself clinging to the original meaning of ‘begging the question’. This is because it’s terrifyingly useful