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.
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.
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.
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.