WNPR

language

Jonathan McNicol photo

The linguist John McWhorter joins us to talk about his book What Language Is (And What It Isn't, and What It Could Be). From Standard English to Black English; obscure tongues only spoken by a few thousand people in the world to the big ones like Mandarin—What Language Is celebrates the history and curiosities of languages around the world and smashes our assumptions about "correct" grammar. Plus, a look at the career con man and serial impostor Clark Rockefeller, who wasn't, ya know, actually a Rockefeller at all.

Gwydion M. Williams

If I told you that England is in the midst of a translation crisis, you'd probably assume it had something to do with the Olympics. Not so much.

The British court system recently awarded a contract to one company, Applied Language Solutions, for all the legally mandated interpreting work that goes on in court. The problem is that ALS has proved to be repeatedly inadequate. It sends interpreters who are not up to the job...or they don't show up at all, halting the proceedings and costing the government thousands of pounds.

Jonathan McNicol photo

When you hear other people talk, how much does the language they use shape your opinion of them? Robert Lane Greene, international correspondent for The Economist, says that the way we look down our noses at ‘poor’ grammar, the way we hold up myths like the bloody origins of the word shibboleth, the hegemonic way we look at languages themselves makes what we hear in other people’s words nothing less than the politics of identity. His book is You Are What You Speak.

Chion Wolf

Samuel Amadon is a poet who grew up just outside of Hartford. He left for college, and grad school, but kept finding himself coming back to the capital city. Now he teaches in South Carolina, and has recently published “The Hartford Book” – a collection of gritty poems he wrote about his time living in and around Hartford.

basheertome, creative commons

Students are learning math and reading, but do they know how to get along with others around the world?

It’s called “cultural competence” - a facility with different languages, an understanding of climate and geography, and familiarity with global financial markets. And according to the Connecticut World Affairs Council, it’s what our students lack.  A “global context.”

Those who share this view say covering science, technology, engineering, and math - is great, but it isn’t enough.

Chion Wolf

In the audio: Experts discuss the future of FCC regulation of TV and radio for indencent content.

takomabibelot, Flickr Creative Commons

Today is our Summer Poetry Show, so let's begin with a poem. This is one of my favorites, a relatively obscure Pablo Neruda poem called "Let's Wait."

Other days still to come
are rising like bread
or waiting like chairs or a
pharmacopeia, or merchandise:
a factory of days in the making:
artisans of the soul
are building and weighing and
preparing
days bitter or precious
that will knock at your door in due time
to award you an orange
or murder you in cold blood where you stand.

Puns!

May 30, 2012
Ecstatic Mark, Flickr Creative Commons

Puns are terrible, right? But then why do we love Groucho? When Mrs. Teasdale tells him: "This is a gala day for you," he says: "Well, a gal a day is enough for me." He also tells her:
"You can leave in a taxi If you can't get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff. "

These are puns, right? But instead of being agonizing they're part of the Rosetta Stone for the greatest manic American comedy.

Chion Wolf

Yesterday, Wolfie and I walked the Wallace Stevens route with our friend the Hartford film-maker Helder Mira and intern Andrew Kufta. We started at the first marker.

The Life Of Languages

Oct 12, 2011
Kim Nowacki, Flickr Creative Commons

There are a lot of made-up languages with big fans. You may have heard of Na'vi from the movie Avatar, or Elvish from Lord of the Rings. Among fans, many of these languages have found a home on the web, where they continue to be developed and studied.

At the same time, thousands of real languages around the world are facing extinction.

Flickr Creative Commons, Hoboken Condos

Today on the Nose we'll run through a grab-bag of topics, starting with the the search for meaning in Red Sox Nation following the collapse of the crimson hose.

Doctors may want to think carefully about the language they use when talking with parents about a child’s weight.  A new study by Yale University researchers finds that certain words reinforce negative stigma and may undermine important discussions about health.

The Art Of Last Words

Aug 31, 2011
Joe Shlabotnik, Flickr Creative Commons

JECO Photo / Creative Commons

New London's Board of Education has been getting attention recently for adopting a policy that will require all students beginning in 2015 to know English before they can graduate. As WNPR’s Lucy Nalpathanchil reports, the requirement reaches beyond the school district’s large student immigrant population.

A little more than half of New London tenth graders are proficient in reading and writing. Some point to the school district's diverse population as a reason.  Almost thirty countries are represented in the student body.

The Humanities

Apr 27, 2011
Creative Commons

Jim Leach says the humanities “expand understanding of human nature and the human condition.” 

Leach is a former congressman and champion collegiate wrestler.  Both of these life skills come in handy as he navigates federal funding in his role as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  

Leach is touring all 50 states to talk about the role the humanities play in our daily lives.  He was recently in Connecticut, and came to our Hartford studios.

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