Take the 2-minute tour ×
Writers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for authors, editors, reviewers, professional writers, and aspiring writers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am a speaker of English as a foreign language. I appreciate that English is a living language and that different regions in the world use English differently. I wanted to know how I can keep up with written English, style choices, popular sayings, words often used, etc. A dictionary seems to get outdated pretty soon. I'm also not sure if there really is an authoritative source, or if the development of the language is more grassroots and less structured.

My question is: Is there some website you can recommend or some other way to keep up to date with current English?

If that is too broad, let it be limited to American English, because that seems to be what is mostly used on the Internet. Also, I'm mostly interested in creative writing.

share|improve this question
    
Language development is whatever people are speaking... which means it's very unstructured; it doesn't release regular patches :P But also, the language doesn't change too fast. Certainly not at a level familiar to most of its speakers. Mostly, keep current with some popular media, and you'll hear how people are using the language. I can't imagine how an online updated guide might look - maybe it'd have reports of various local changes? –  Standback Dec 3 '11 at 15:41
add comment

6 Answers

If you want to keep up with written English, read newspapers and magazines (preferably weekly, but also monthly).

Newspapers, meant to be daily, cover news, politics, opinions, business, human interest, tech, medicine, sports, and entertainment (among many other subjects). New terms can enter from any angle.

Magazines can either be weekly or monthly. Weekly magazines will be a little fresher with their use of slang; monthly magazines are usually more niche-oriented and will be heavier with jargon from a particular industry or hobby. If some phrase has reached a monthly magazine, it's more likely to be entrenched in the lexicon, since publication lead time is two to three months.

Most periodicals have websites where some or all of their content is reproduced.

Entertainment periodicals will have more creative writing than news outlets, but you can find creative writing in the opinion sections as well. Monthly magazines can have a fiction component.

Just off the top of my head, I can suggest (note that this does not imply endorsement of content):

  • The New York Times
  • The Los Angeles Times
  • The Washington Post
  • The Chicago Tribune
  • Entertainment Weekly
  • Newsweek
  • Time
  • The New Yorker
  • The Atlantic
share|improve this answer
2  
This covers American English, your periodicals may vary for other dialects. –  justkt Dec 4 '11 at 3:00
    
Very true. I am not versed enough in non-American periodicals to recommend any, and I'd rather make no recommendation than a poor one. –  Lauren Ipsum Dec 4 '11 at 17:03
2  
I think reading magazine is a really good idea, and it helps when you read in an area of your interest. I find newspaper (especially traditional type) are very concern of their writing too. –  cherhan Dec 7 '11 at 7:30
add comment

Read. Read more. Listen. Listen more.

Luckily, there is no one place to suggest as an answer. If there was- the language would be dying.

share|improve this answer
1  
The manner in which you formulated your answer suggests a factual statement, but I expect it is your personal opinion. Is that so? If not, could you please elaborate? I don't see how a website or service trying to keep track of the written language could cause people not to use the English language anymore. –  René Van Belzen Dec 3 '11 at 23:20
1  
Yawn. Your comment is illustrative.. –  Joshin Dec 4 '11 at 20:48
    
I don't understand what you mean. –  René Van Belzen Dec 5 '11 at 8:30
    
@Joshin - I agree with Rene. You make a very definitive statement without any support. The answer would be improved with support. Also, there are single places to find answers on the official version of some languages (France has such an organization, for example) and those languages are most certainly alive. –  justkt Dec 5 '11 at 13:39
    
@justkt: Now I see the point, I think. "...official version of some languages (France has..." that seems to explain the difference in perspectives. –  Kris Dec 7 '11 at 4:11
show 2 more comments

It doesn't look like you are on english.stackexchange.com yet! In fact, you could very well have asked this question there for better response.

I find forums such as these one of the best ways for 'Continuing Education', i.e., keeping up to date.

share|improve this answer
    
I think the question was specifically about the application of language (writing and improving an active writing vocabulary), not about grammar and spelling. –  René Van Belzen Dec 4 '11 at 14:41
2  
Quite likely. However, there are significant differences between AmEng and other dialects in spelling, sentence structure, even the use of words, so much so that many who are not native speakers of AmEng fail to understand correctly. –  Kris Dec 4 '11 at 14:59
add comment

I enjoy reading Michael Quinion's World Wide Words e-mail newsletter. Quinion works on the Oxford English Dictionary and has written a number of popular books on English besides. The newsletter ranges widely through the various dialects of English and often covers archaic, newly minted, and regional words. Often he tracks down the origin of an idiom, which he always documents authoritatively when possible.

I can't really imagine being interested in English (or writing in the language) without subscribing to World Wide Words.

share|improve this answer
    
They also have RSS subscriptions, so you can read it through your favorite RSS reader. –  René Van Belzen Dec 5 '11 at 8:26
add comment

You can find urbandictionary.com useful. Probably that's the only adequate source of evolving English language available.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Since I see you are interested in creative writing, perhaps you should check out websites or blogs that encourage users to submit their own short stories as a way to see what new styles and phrases are being used. You can easily search for "creative writing blogs" on Google and shop around until you find some that you like.

Also, there are websites that will provide you with a writing prompt every so often; some every day, some every month, etc. Just reading the prompts can be a good way to keep up with popular themes and modern sayings without having to dedicate a lot of time to reading stories you aren't necessarily interested in.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.