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Courtesy of Zuheera Ali

My mom, my Hooyo, has a special way of teaching you so much about the world and so little about herself.

She tells you the parts of her life that are going to push you to succeed the way she did, without letting you see the struggles she went through.


It's not just what you say that matters. It's how you say it.

Take the phrase, "Here's Johnny." When Ed McMahon used it to introduce Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, the words were an enthusiastic greeting. But in The Shining, Jack Nicholson used the same two words to convey murderous intent.

With addiction such a prominent problem, experts say it’s time to use words that don’t carry judgement. Studies show that saying “addiction” instead of “substance abuse,” and “person with substance abuse disorder” instead of “junkie,” affects the treatment patients receive, as well as public policy.

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.

Merriam-Webster defines jargon as "the technical terminology or characteristic idiom of a special activity, group, profession, or field of study."

When we're reporting on special education, we inevitably run up against questions of how we should refer to students with disabilities and to the disabilities themselves.

It's a minefield, comparable to the tensions and complexity of writing about race and ethnicity.

It's important to get it right. As journalists, of course, we want to be accurate. And clear. And we want to avoid perpetuating stereotypes or giving offense.

'Week in Review' panel Pat Murakami, Gyasi Ross, Erica C. Barnett and Bill Radke.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Are Donald Trump's manners an issue or a distraction? Should we house the homeless first? Who should see police body camera footage? Plus, are your exclamation marks a sign that you can’t write? 

Bill Radke declaims the news with Gyasi Ross, Erica C. Barnett and Pat Murakami.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump, pictured here 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference.
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/e41ELr

Bill Radke speaks with University of Washington historian Margaret O'Mara about mud slinging and crudeness in American politics.

After Donald Trump defended the size of his penis during a Republican primary debate, some people asked, have we hit a new low? According to O'Mara, the answer is no. Things like this have been happening for centuries.

And often, the vulgarity is a smoke screen that distracts from the real issues, O'Mara said. 

The French have gotten themselves into one of their recurrent linguistic lathers, this one over the changes in their spelling that will be taking effect in the fall. The changes were originally proposed more than 25 years ago. But nothing much came of them until the government recently announced that they'd be incorporated in the new textbooks, at which point traditionalists took to the barricades.

Tony Johnson of the Chinook Tribe is fluent in Chinook Wawa. He stands at Chinook Point near the mouth of the Columbia, a key spot for the fur trade 200 years ago where strangers met and needed a common language.
KUOW Photo/Dwight Caswell

Chinook Jargon was a trade language that once ruled the Northwest. But when was it used, and how many people spoke it? Listener Michelle LeSourd of Seattle asked KUOW's Local Wonder. 

Flickr Photo/Indra Galbo (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/3GLm42

Among a long list of achievements, University of Washington professor Ralina Joseph co-founded the group WIRED (Women Investigating Race, Ethnicity, and Difference.)

The meaning and importance of the term "difference" is the focus of her recent lecture “What’s The Difference With ‘Difference?’”

There is a metaphor so embedded in the discussion of refugees and migrants that everyone from Donald Trump to Barack Obama uses it. The New York Times has put it in headlines, and Rush Limbaugh has wielded it like a hammer in his full-throated style.

Do You Have A Case Of Affluenza?

Jan 4, 2016

Bill Radke speaks with author and filmmaker John de Graaf about the term "affluenza" and its use in society after Ethan Couch was found violating his probation in Mexico. Couch used affluenza as a defense in his trial for four counts of manslaughter after a intoxicated driving incident in 2013.

English bursts with consonants. We have words that string one after another, like angst, diphthong and catchphrase. But other languages keep more vowels and open sounds. And that variability might be because they evolved in different habitats.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TESS VIGELAND, HOST:

Journalist Jessica Grose is no stranger to criticism of her voice. When she was co-hosting the Slate podcast, the DoubleX Gabfest, she would receive emails complaining about her "upspeak" — a tendency to raise her voice at the end of sentences. Once an older man she was interviewing for an article in Businessweek told her that she sounded like his granddaughter.

"That was the first moment I felt [my voice] was hurting my career beyond just irritating a couple listeners," Grose tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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