Evolving English exhibition – One Language, Many Voices

I just love words. They are one of my favourite things in life, so I am really excited about our new Evolving English exhibition, where we will be exploring our wonderful language, from Anglo-Saxon runes to modern day rap.

My favourite word for some time has been serendipitous, both for its sound and meaning. As a very poor speller (sp), I am intrigued by what I consider to be ridiculous spellings, which I would never guess how to say. For instance, how about the dance groups The Cholmondeleys and The Featherstonehaughs. Did you get they are pronounced Chumleys and Fanshaws respectively?

I also noticed last week that David Usborne writing in the new i newspaper from the Independent, is not averse a bit of language creativity. He used the term ‘courtesy-impaired’ passengers in reference to the story about Steven Slater the ‘air rage’ steward. I did a little digging a found an article titled Courtesy-impaired peers frustrate fellow worker by Diane Crowley in the Chicago Sun-Times from 20 September 1990.

Here are some great language websites I have come across over the years:

Wordia – the online dictionary, which brings words to life through video.

Dictionary of English slang and colloquialisms of the UK

Save the Words is all about trying to stop them from disappearing.

ToneCheck™ is an e-mail plug-in that flags sentences with words or phrases that may convey unintended emotion or tone, then helps you re-write them.

Phrases.net Thousands of common phrases, sayings and idioms that can be browsed, searched, heard, and translated to several language.

100 Most Often Mispelled Misspelled Words in English

AlexHorne.com Can one man deliberately invent a successful new word? Is it possible to break into the dictionary? What is a pratdigger?

Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices

The first exhibition to explore the English language in all its national and international diversity. Iconic books and manuscripts, set alongside engaging everyday texts, show the social, cultural and historical strands from which the language has been woven.

In the exhibition and on this website you will also be able to take part in a national initiative to record how English is spoken all over the UK. You will be able to submit a recording of yourself reading ‘Mr Tickle’ to form part of the British Library’s collections. Add your email address at the top of the page to join our mailing list.

‘Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices’ also looks beneath the tip of the linguistic iceberg at comics, adverts, text messages, posters, newspapers, trading records and dialect recordings that make up the bulk of the English language.

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