language

Education
8:00 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Is Latin Making A Comeback In Schools? Caveat Lector

Latin has now been "coming back" in schools for more than half a century.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 5:28 am

Look no further than Hollywood this summer to know that new ideas are often just old ones that have been dragged out of the past and dressed up to look fresh.

It happens in journalism too, and education journalism is no exception. Having covered this stuff for a long time now, I'm regularly coming across old stories that simply refuse to die.

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Language
9:45 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Segregated From Its History, How 'Ghetto' Lost Its Meaning

The pushcart market in the East Side Ghetto of New York's Jewish Quarter was a hive of activity in the early 1900s.
Ewing Galloway Getty Images

Originally published on Sun June 29, 2014 2:32 pm

As you might have gathered from our blog's title, the Code Switch team is kind of obsessed with the ways we speak to each other. Each week in "Word Watch," we'll dig into language that tells us something about the way race is lived in America today. (Interested in contributing? Holler at this form.)

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Play Ball!
2:44 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

The Strange Language Of Baseball

Credit Flickr Photo/Keith-Allison (CC BY-NC-ND)

From 'cup of coffee' to 'Bronx cheer,' Ross Reynolds runs the language bases of baseball with linguist Ben Zimmer.

Word Blitz
4:19 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

5 Football Terms Every Seahawks Fan Should Know

The Legion of Boom bus.
Credit Flickr Photo/Dena Rosko (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Just like learning acronyms at a new workplace, catching on to the Seahawks’ lexicon can be daunting for the uninitiated. Ben Zimmer, linguist and self-described “word nerd,” helps us break down the terms that are flying around as often as a 12th Man flag.

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Cribs
9:07 am
Tue January 14, 2014

The Shakespearean Lineage Of 'Where The Magic Happens'

In this photo from 1993, television producer Aaron Spelling's Los Angeles home is shown. Spelling's widow placed the 56,000 square-foot house on the market for $150 million.
MARK TERRILL AP

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 11:04 am

MTV Cribs was the guiltiest of pop-culture pleasures in the early 2000s. The premise was simple. Stars showed off their houses, and the masses got a peek at life behind the mansion gates. Viewers saw "where the magic happened"*, to borrow a recurring phrase used by celebrities as they displayed their bedrooms. And no episode was more magical than when Mariah Carey provided a tour of her penthouse apartment and hopped on her stationary step climber in heels.

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Chickasaw
7:43 am
Wed January 8, 2014

What Happens When A Language's Last Monolingual Speaker Dies?

A portrait of Emily Johnson Dickerson by artist Mike Larsen.
Courtesy of the Chickasaw Nation

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 12:47 pm

Emily Johnson Dickerson died at her home in Ada, Okla., last week. She was the last person alive who spoke only the Chickasaw language.

"This is a sad day for all Chickasaw people because we have lost a cherished member of our Chickasaw family and an unequaled source of knowledge about our language and culture," Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said in a news release. The Chickasaw Nation has about 55,000 members and is based in the southern part of central Oklahoma.

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Parent-ese
1:13 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

'Baby Talk' Helps Babies Learn To Speak More Quickly

Flickr Photo/etringita (Cc-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman interviews Patricia Kuhl about her new study on the benefits of “parent-ese," or baby talk. Kuhl is a professor and co-director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington.

Language
2:15 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

What Will Be The Word Of The Year?

Flickr Photo/Chris Blakeley

Ross Reynolds talks with language guru Ben Zimmer about the language trends of 2013.

South Africa
5:03 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Mandela Sign Language Interpreter Says He Had Schizophrenic Episode

Thamsanqa Jantjie, 34, appeared alongside President Obama and other world leaders during Tuesday's memorial for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa. Many in the deaf community are outraged over Jantjie's sign language interpretation.
Pedro Ugarte AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 7:13 am

The sign language interpreter widely criticized as a "fake" for his performance at Nelson Mandela's memorial service in South Africa says he suffered a schizophrenic episode while on stage, a South African newspaper reported Thursday.

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Job Skills
12:00 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Even With Google Translate, Language Skills Still Valuable

Michael Erard's book "Babel No More."

It might seem that tools like Google Translate make the ability to speak different languages less valuable to employers. But Michael Erard, author of “Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners,” says that being bilingual or multilingual is still important.

All kinds of organizations from Starbucks to the World Health Organization seek out people who are proficient in multiple languages.  Erard calls them the "staff hyperpolyglot." Marcie Sillman talks with Erard about multilingualism in the workplace.

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Strange Language
11:18 am
Fri September 6, 2013

Ben Zimmer On Having And Eating Cake

Flickr Photo/Jeff Anderson

You can’t have your cake and eat it too, but how are you supposed to eat cake you don’t have? Language guru Ben Zimmer is back today and he explains the whole having, eating and not having cake thing. And what that has to do with how the Unabomber was captured. Really.

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Strange Language
11:39 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Ben Zimmer: On The Whole 9 Yards And Phrase Inflation

Flickr Photo/Jesus V

Did you know that the phrase "the whole 9 yards" used to be "the whole 6 yards?" It’s true. And cloud nine, that fantastic place to be, used to be cloud seven, then cloud eight. So how did we get to nine yards and cloud nine? Ben Zimmer is back today to talk about phrase inflation as we consider our series on strange language.

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Strange Language
10:03 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Ben Zimmer: The Roots Of "Pipe Dreams"

Flickr Photo/Andre Lucero

Yesterday we heard some history on the term "doping" in sports and today, language columnist Ben Zimmer explains where the term "pipe dream" comes from. 

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Strange Language
12:21 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

From Gravy To Drugs: Ben Zimmer On The Origin Of "Dope"

Flickr Photo/NCinDC

We’ve seen lots of sports scandals in the news over the years that have to do with performance-enhancing drugs, commonly referred to as doping. Dope, from the Dutch word doop, is actually a gravy or a sauce, so how did we go from gravy to drugs? Lexicographer Ben Zimmer gives KUOW's Ross Reynolds the straight dope on dope.

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Shifting Language
11:08 am
Tue June 25, 2013

When Do You Code-Switch?

Young people often code-switch the most, shifting their tone, vocabulary or even language to suit their family or their peers.
Flickr Photo/Dan Tentler

  Most of us adjust the way we speak for the person or people we’re speaking to. It could be as subtle as speaking a little more slowly and happily when talking to a small child. Or it could be as obvious as changing to another language. There’s a term for this shift - it’s called code-switching. Jeannie Yandel talked with listeners about when they code-switch and why they do it.

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