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Dr. Ralina Joseph and Sade Britt
KUOW photo/Gil Aegerter

Is it OK to call someone of color ethnic? What does half-white mean? 


Bill Radke talks with Roman Mars and Helen Zaltzman about the history of the term "sanctuary." Mars is the creator of the podcast 99% Invisible and Zaltzman is the creator of the language podcast The Allusionist. 

The campaign began under cover of darkness.

It opened with a skirmish or two in Bristol more than a decade ago — a superfluous apostrophe scratched off a street sign here, a possessive rendered plural with the stroke of some tape there.

But now, the battle between one mysterious man and the grammatical mistakes besieging the British city has spilled into the harsh light of international media.

Many of us feel irked when we hear people speaking "incorrectly." Whether it's using "like" a few too many times, or the word "literally" to mean "figuratively," we have a sense that there is a correct way to speak, and that that isn't it. While new speech patterns might be irritating, the linguist John McWhorter says they can't possibly be wrong. His new book is Words on the Move: Why English Won't and Can't Sit Still (Like Literally).

Professor Ralina Joseph at the University of Washington says to just start talking about race.
University of Washington

Why is race so hard to discuss? Ralina Joseph, founding director of the University of Washington’s Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity, talked about coded racial language, from Seattle liberals to Trump. This is a transcript from her interview, lightly edited for clarity.


Rewind to August 2015: Then-candidate Donald Trump is on stage in Cleveland at the first Republican presidential debate.

"I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct," Trump tells the moderator, Fox News' Megyn Kelly. "I've been challenged by so many people and I don't, frankly, have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn't have time, either."

It has become a familiar story in a world bristling with live mics. A public figure is caught out using a vulgarity, and the media have to decide how to report the remark. Web media tend to be explicit, but the traditional media are more circumspect.

T
Lucas Jackson/Reuters

For the millions of Spanish-speaking Americans who caught the presidential debate on Univision Monday night, there was a familiar voice: Vicente de la Vega.

De la Vega was the simultaneous interpreter for Donald Trump during the debate broadcast — a role he's played at various times during the campaign. He's also the president and CEO of Precision Translating Services.

Flickr Photo/Lynn Friedman (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/d1c4F3

Bill Radke speaks with Benjamin K. Bergen about his new book, "What the F." In the book, Bergen explains why we find profanity so shocking, but also so appealing at the same time. Bergen is a professor of cognitive science at University of California San Diego. 

Grammar Alert: The case for the 'singular they'

Sep 1, 2016
Flickr Photo/Timothy Allen (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/8zZfU9

There’s a debate among wordsmiths over something called the "singular they".  That’s the gender-neutral pronoun, an alternative to the pronouns "he" and "she". 

An example: A parent wants their child to succeed. 


Amber Hayward and her sons
Courtesy of Amber Hayward

Amber Hayward's kids weren't sold when she started speaking Lushootseed at home. It sounded different and some of the words were hard to say. 

But Hayward kept at it. She made her bathroom, where she gets ready, an English-free zone. From there she hollered at her kids in Lushootseed to guide them through their morning routine: Brush your teeth, get dressed, wash your face. And in time, her kids got on board. 

What Does 'Radical Islam' Mean?

Jun 22, 2016

The tragedy in Orlando has prompted a debate over use of the term “radical Islam.” Here & Now‘s Robin Young talks with William McCants of the Brookings Institution about what the words mean, and why they are controversial.

Interview Highlights: William McCants

On the history of the term “radical Islam”

Confused about the word Eskimo?

Emojis were supposed to be the great equalizer: a language all its own capable of transcending borders and cultural differences.

Not so fast, say a group of researchers who found that different people had vastly different interpretations of some popular emojis. The researchers published their findings for GroupLens, a research lab based out of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

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