Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 8:04 pm
In an emergency, the last thing you want to hear is, "I can't understand you." The reality is emergency dispatchers in the Northwest generally speak one language, English. But in our increasingly polyglot society, some people in distress inevitably can't communicate in English.
Sometimes the words we use cause offense we never intended. That’s what happened on Monday at a Seattle City Council meeting, when one word derailed a bill officials say could bring in $21 million in unpaid fines.
Ross Reynolds speaks with Devin Naar, an assistant professor at the University of Washington, about his attempts to save Ladino, a dying language spoken by Sephardic Jews. Naar discusses the language's fascinating history, uncertain future and how Ladino helped him uncover secrets about his own family.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.