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Tagged with “language” (40)
University of Toronto Physics professor Robert K. Logan on The Origin and Evolution of Language and the Emergence of Concepts
It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without words. But in this hour of Radiolab, we try to do just that. We speak to a woman who taught a 27-year-old man the first words of his life, and we hear a firsthand account of what it feels like to have the language center of your brain wiped out by a stroke.
If it comes to you easily, being able to read is easy to take for granted. But reading is an extraordinarily complex process, one that researchers are still working to understand fully. On today’s Please Explain we look at the science of reading. Dr. Sally E. Shaywitz and Dr. Bennett A. Shaywitz are professors in Learning Development at the Yale University School of Medicine and Co-Directors of the Yale Center for Learning.
Kurt finds out about a new edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that gets rid of the "n-word" once and for all. The actor Matt Damon and the director Sofia Coppola share their takes on Hollywood stardom. And Detroit’s decaying buildings have turned it into the capital of a new photographic genre called "ruin porn."
If you’re in Bangladesh, the expression that translates as “oiling your mustache in anticipation of the jackfruit tree bearing fruit” makes perfect sense. In English, it means “don’t count your chickens.”
A discussion thread on Reddit with this and many other examples has Martha and Grant talking about odd idioms in other languages.
A Marine stationed in California says that growing up in North Carolina, he understood the expression fixin’ to mean “to be about to.”
Some office workers say their word processor’s spellchecker always flags the words overnighted and overnighting. Are those words acceptable in a business environment?
“You really love peeled potatoes.” That’s a translation of a Venezuelan idiom describing someone who’s lazy. Grant and Martha share other idioms from South America.
Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a word puzzle called “Blank My Blank.”
A woman in Burlington, Vermont, says her mother used to use the expression land o’ Goshen! to express surprise or amazement. Where is Goshen?
A Yankee transplant to the South says that restaurant servers are confused when he tells them, “I’m all set.” Is he all set to continue his meal, or all set to leave?
A woman in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, remembers a ditty she learned from her mother about “thirty purple birds,” but with a distinctive pronunciation that sounds more like “Toidy poipel blackbirds / Sittin’ on a coibstone / Choipin’ and boipin’ / And eatin’ doity oithworms.” Here’s the Red Hot Chili Peppers version.
Martha offers excellent writing advice from the former editor of People magazine, Landon Y. Jones.
A former Texan wonders if only Texans use the terms Mamaw and Papaw instead of Grandma and Grandpa.
Martha shares some Argentine idioms, including one that translates as “What a handrail!” for “What a bad smell!”
A West Point graduate says he and fellow members of the military use the expression He has seen the elephant to mean “He’s seen combat.” Grant explains that this expression originated outside the military.
Do you flesh out a plan or flush out a plan?
Another Argentine idiom goes arrugaste como frenada de gusano. It means “You were scared,” but literally, it’s “You wrinkled like a stopping worm.”
n this new short, we explore luck and fate, both good and bad, with an author and a cartoon character.
Questions of fate and free will come up all the time on Radiolab, whether we’re telling a story or talking to a scientist. And in this short, we decided to take a playful approach to the subject. Paul Auster tells a couple good yarns (true ones) that make Jad and Robert wonder whether the universe is playing puppet master. Then Pat Walters and Lulu Miller talk to Michael Barrier (he’s the guy you call if you have a big profound question about Looney Tunes). Along the way, they answer a question that has been bugging Lulu for a long, long time.
Anthropologist Wade Davis is one of the world’s great story tellers, with personal adventures to match. An Explorer-in-Residence at National Geographic, he specializes in hanging out with traditional peoples and exploring their religious practices.
He first came to public notice with his discovery of the reality of zombies in Haitian voodoo and the substance used to poison them—-chronicled in his 1985 book, The Serpent and the Rainbow. He is the author of 13 books, including One River and Shadows in the Suns, and has hosted, written, and starred in numerous television specials, including "Earthguide," "Light at the Edge of the World," "Spirit of the Mask," and "Forests Forever." This talk is based on the prestigious Massey Lectures that Davis gave in Canada in 2009.
I talked to Professor Jennifer Jenkins about English as Lingua Franca, what it is and what it means to us as teachers. As usual, a google scholar search turns up quite a lot of good reading in this area, but I would recommend this short article as a good starting point.
Barbara Seidlhofer’s name came up in the discussion too, and I recommend this article as a very important one in the development of the field.
Seidlhofer B. (2004) ‘Teaching English as a lingua franca’. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics Vol.24: 209–239
The Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English is an ongoing attempt to build a sample of non-native interaction in English.
Here is a review (mine!) of her 2007 book ‘English as Lingua Franca: Attitude and Identity’
And finally, some commentary on David Graddol’s book (and a free pdf download of the whole thing) which we mention later in the podcast.
From this particular conversation? I am still in agreement with the philosophy behind ELF… but it ELF doesn’t need my permission, as a native speaker, to exist and thrive. The fact is that non-native speakers are now driving the language forward. My difficulty, as a teacher, is what I do about it. What is a mistake, and what is just a difference? How does this impact on my writing class? How long have I got to become fluent and fully literate in another language, before I become obsolete? Listen, enjoy, and comment please. But play nice – I know this topic can get particularly feisty….
Dave is working at a language school and international high school in Canada. Additionally he runs his own website for students to “learn English online.” We’ll talk a bit about his website and also in general about website building/promotion later in the show. In part one of the podcast, we focus on some of Dave’s students’ problems and how he handles them. He has a good number of Japanese students and they have a strong knowledge of grammar but a very low speaking level. Mark and Dave offer a few ideas on how to improve speaking competence and fluency with these learners.
ESL Teacher Talk,
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