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2D: English’s quirks

The English language has very many strange quirks – some derived from the influence the languages of many different invaders over many millennia, others derived from rather more recent influences. I’ve chosen two articles to illustrate this.

The first is this article from BBC News which discusses the origins of one of my least favourite hackneyed metaphors: that of “battling” cancer. Their short but interesting discussion tracks this back to Richard Nixon’s “war on cancer”, but the fact that the BBC is discussing this use of language at all is almost more interesting than what they have to say.

The second article on language is almost a decade old, but only came to my attention very recently. It was written by Jack Winter for The New Yorker, and is called “How I Met My Wife“. To avoid spoiling the linguistic surprise, I’ll say no more than that!

2D posts appear on alternate Wednesdays – except the Wednesday in two weeks, which I’m skipping because it’s New Year’s Day. For 2D, I pick two interesting articles that look at an issue from two different – though not necessarily opposing – perspectives. I hope you enjoy them!

This 2,093rd post was filed under: 2D.

2D: Communicating science

Communicating scientific findings to a wider audience is a tricky – but nonetheless important – business.

Writing in Prospect, Michael Billig reckons he knows why academics can’t write: it is, apparently, a problem of big nouns. I think he has a point (his comparison between academic-speak and management-speak certain, and his article is also very funny in places – it’s well worth a read.

But what’s it like if you do a good job at communicating the messages of your research, and end up being invited to do the media rounds to talk more about it? Katie Haighton’s post on the Fuse Open Science Blog gives a fascinating insight.

I think these two articles make a brilliant pair!

2D posts appear on alternate Wednesdays. For 2D, I pick two interesting articles that look at an issue from two different – though not necessarily opposing – perspectives. I hope you enjoy them!

This 2,089th post was filed under: 2D, , , , .

2D: Apple (again)

Published a fortnight ago, my last 2D post offered two articles about technology giant Apple. With an originality rarely surpassed by this blog, today’s 2D post is about… Apple.

Having come across two more brilliant articles about the company in the last couple of weeks, I didn’t want to deny you the pleasure of reading them simply because I’ve done something similar recently.

My first selection today is this recent Guardian article by their technology editor Charles Arthur. He makes the point that while the Apple Maps app is often a source of ridicule, within the US at least it appears to be winning the long-game, with Google Maps losing millions of users to Apple’s version. It’s one of those interesting articles that explains why the cultural narrative around a certain story borders on counter-factual.

My second selection is this article from The New York Times published last month, and written by Fred Vogelstein. It’s been pretty widely shared, but I only got round to reading it last week. It’s a remarkable account of the development of the iPhone, and – perhaps most interestingly – the development of the iPhone’s launch announcement, and how buggy the iPhone was at the point it was announced. It’s a remarkable tale.

Next time round, I promise you something that’s not Apple…!

2D posts appear on alternate Wednesdays. For 2D, I pick two interesting articles that look at an issue from two different – though not necessarily opposing – perspectives. I hope you enjoy them!

This 2,083rd post was filed under: 2D, , , , , .




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