language

Language
12:04 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Words We Love And Words We Hate

What's your favorite word?
Flickr Photo/Ryan Basilio

What's so funny about peace, love and understanding? Nothing, but other words are hilarious! Ross Reynolds talks with language columnist Ben Zimmer about words we love, words we hate and words that simply make us laugh. 

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Language And Grammar
9:00 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Call The Grammar Police!

Grammar Police strike again!
Credit Flickr photo/Seven Morris

When it comes to proper usage, the Grammar Police work overtime. Have you ever corrected another person’s grammar? How did that go over? Linguist Geoffrey Pullum has written widely on language and usage, from technical syntactic theory to a study called “The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax." He joins us for a conversation about the constant struggle for grammatical excellence (or even just improvement) and the right and wrong way to encourage better sentence structure.

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Language
12:20 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Does Changing State Law To Use Gender Neutral Wording Matter?

University of Washington Sociolinguist Crispin Thurlow

Washington state is in the process of changing the language in state law to make it more gender neutral. Policemen are now police officers, for instance, and freshmen will become first-year students. Supporters say the change is needed because language matters. Critics say the changes are a waste of money. Ross Reynolds interviews University of Washington Sociolinguist Crispin Thurlow, and we take your phone calls.

Words And Phrases
11:35 am
Wed January 2, 2013

What Words From 2012 Would You Banish?

Totes, amazeballs, schweet: plenty to pick from here.
Sam Easterby-Smith Flickr

Bring us your tired metaphors, overused phrases and words that summon an unpleasant visceral reaction. Ben Zimmer, language columnist for the Boston Globe, explains why these words and phrases bother us so much. Sometimes a word variant sounds odd to our ear, even if it’s correct, such as “pleaded” rather than “plead.” Other problems arise when words reveal disparities, such as a lack of an equivalent term for the opposite gender. And jargon can become offensive when it migrates from its original community to more common use in mainstream media or by different age groups.

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Arts & Entertainment
9:00 am
Mon November 26, 2012

Conlangs: The Art Of Fake Languages

Constructed languages, or "conlangs," are the made-up tongues that bring the worlds of "Avatar,"  "Lord of the Rings" and "Star Trek" to life. We talk with linguist David J. Peterson, creator of the Dothraki language for HBO's "Game of Thrones," about what goes into creating a language from scratch.

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Books
9:00 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Linguist Geoffrey Nunberg On America's Favorite Insult

'Ascent of the A-Word' by Geoffrey Nunberg.
(Credit/PublicAffairs)

In “Ascent of the A-Word,” linguist and "Fresh Air" commentator Geoffrey Nunberg considers a word that has divided, offended and fascinated its users for the last 60 years. What is its essence? And what does it say about our values, impressions and relationships with other people? Nunberg joins us to discuss one of the culture’s most commonly hurled vulgarities and its place in society.

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