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.
Tagged with “words” (9)
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.
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.”
All about good teaching of vocabulary. Norbert and Diane Schmidt
Poetry that is great read a loudPublic radio's show about words and language and how we use them, with Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett
Have you ever been Plutoed (demoted)? Is your inbox clogged with "bacn" (spam by personal request)? Are you a lifehacker (master at optimizing everyday routines)? Jonathon Keats, artist and author of Virtual Words, explains how science and technology influence language, and vice versa.
In "Wordcatcher: An Odyssey into the World of Weird and Wonderful Words," Phil Cousineau delves into the curious etymologies of words ranging from the seemingly straightforward to the utterly obscure. Cousineau joins us in studio to discuss the hidden histories and meanings of the 250 words profiled in his book. An author and filmmaker, Cousineau has published 26 nonfiction books and has 15 scriptwriting credits to his name.
Robert McCrum is the associate editor of The Observer (London) and co-author of the bestseller The Story of English, a history of the English language, that went on to be adapted into an Emmy Award-winning nine-part PBS television series. He is the author of six works of fiction, including In the Secret State and Mainland. Among his nonfiction books are the acclaimed biography Wodehouse: A Life and the memoir My Year Off: Recovering Life after a Stroke. In Globish, McCrum argues, "that a seismic shift in the foundations of our lingua franca has transformed [British and American English] from an expression of Anglo-American cultural sovereignty into a supra-national phenomenon, with its own powerful inner dynamic." (recorded 6/10/2010)
It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without words. But in this hour of Radiolab, we try to do just that.
We meet a woman who taught a 27-year-old man the first words of his life, hear a firsthand account of what it feels like to have the language center of your brain wiped out by a stroke, and retrace the birth of a brand new language 30 years ago.