What is uptalking? Do you uptalk? The BBC can help you with the answers. Visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4116788.stm.

Words Of The Street

A toponym is a name of something that denotes a geographical place, usually the place of origin of the thing named. The words spa (a town in Belgium), Watergate (a hotel and office building, site of famous burglary), and rugby (a school in Britain) are toponyms for, respectively, a resort, a political scandal, and a sport.

Among toponyms, a few are street names that have come to be associated with industries and activities located there. Perhaps the most famous is Wall Street, the toponym meaning the US financial markets. The metaphorical use comes from the fact that many of the largest financial institutions have traditionally had their headquarters on that Manhattan Street. The metaphorical usage dates to 1841.

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Theories & Intelligent Design

The Kansas State Board of Education is currently debating whether a theory called intelligent design should be used to present criticisms of evolution in Biology classes. The board, which has an evangelical Christian conservative majority, is widely expected to approve a measure that requires criticism of evolution be taught in Kansas schools, but the exact nature and wording of the new policy is still in the works.

The current push for intelligent design as an alternative to evolution has its roots in the US courts striking down the teaching of creation science. Creation science is the teaching of the literal text of Genesis as scientific truth. US federal courts have consistently ruled that creation science is a religious doctrine, not scientific truth and its instruction in public schools is a violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which forbids the establishment of a state religion. Intelligent design skirts this prohibition by not advocating any specific creation story, but rather simply argues that the complexity of nature requires that there be a designer; many organisms and biological structures are too complex to have come about by chance.

Despite the current push for intelligent design being a response to the courtroom failures of creation science, intelligent design is the older of the two terms; it even predates Darwin’s concept of evolution by natural selection. The Oxford English Dictionary dates intelligent design to 1847, in an article in Scientific American:

The great store-house of nature—the innumerable and diversified objects there presented to our view give evidence of infinite skill and intelligent design in the adaptation to each other and to the nature of man.

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OED Quarterly Update

Oxford University Press has published its June newsletter that outlines the changes to the OED online over the last quarter.

This quarter the entries from papula to Paul have been updated, along with a number of new entries from across the alphabet.

The newsletter also contains several interesting articles by Oxford’s library researchers that give insight into the process of creating dictionary entries.

The newsletter is available here.

BBC Wordhunt

Did you call someone a minger rather than just pig-ugly before 1995? Did you sport a mullet and call it that before the 1994 Beastie Boys song Mullet Head? Were you dubbed the nit nurse before 1985? And, do you have the evidence to prove it?

BBC Two and Oxford University Press are sponsoring a new project to find the origins of a number of slang terms. The project will provide data to both the OED and to a BBC television series.

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