language

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

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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Language and Technology
12:03 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Lean Back And LOL: Texting Is Not Ruining Language

Flickr Photo/Maryland GovPics

Texting has become an incredibly common way of communicating in the 21st century. Back in 2011, the Pew Research Center reported that young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 sent around 110 text messages per day. The texting craze has also given rise to an entirely new vocabulary — texters of all ages abbreviate, punctuate and accentuate in ways that are totally unique to the cell phone age.

So one question arises: Is texting killing our language? Ross Reynolds LOLs with professor John McWhorter and discusses the possible impact of txting and the feared f8 of language.

Best Of Weekday
9:00 am
Wed April 10, 2013

Weekday Archive: Taj Mahal And Steven Pinker

Taj Mahal
Jay Blakesberg

Our spring membership drive rolls along with two of our favorite interviews: two-time Grammy winning musician Taj Mahal joined us late last year to celebrate 40 years in music and a new retrospective album, "Maestro." Plus, we listen back to a conversation with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker about his book, "The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature."

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