John McWhorter on Talk of the Nation, "DEA Call For Ebonics Experts Smart Move", 9/6/2010. (Download mp3 here.)
On this week’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! (“the NPR news quiz”), a listener-contestant from around NYC had trouble filling in the last word of a limerick read (as usual) by Carl Kassel. You can hear the most relevant 45-second clip here, or you can find the full 5:39-minute segment in the rundown from Wait Wait’s [...]
Conlanging circles are excited recently by making the news. The soon-to-be-initiated Klingon (tlhing'an Hol) cave tours at Jenolan Caves have been circulated in international news. It went far enough for one of the co-ordinators, a self-declared Trekkie to be interviewed on TripleJ's Breakfast show.
Sam asked about the word varsity, a word invariably connected with schools. There are varsity sweaters, varsity cheerleading squads, varsity teams, varsity bookstores, and varsity grills and drive-ins, the most famous of which is located in Atlanta. Show More Summary
Political accentologist Aidan Wilson dissects some reactions to our new Prime Minister's noticeable accent.
The "show open topic" for this week's Car Talk, according to the show's web page, is "Tom and Ray translate the grunts of mechanics". It starts like this: In fact, Alexandra Sellers' Spoken Cat was published a dozen years ago, and similarly, the Newsweek article about it (Lucy Howard and Carla Koehl, "Talk The Talk"), ran on [...]
A couple of days ago, I compared the rate of first-person-singular pronoun use in Sarah Palin's July 3 resignation speech to the rates in some other historical speeches, including Richard Nixon's 1962 speech conceding the California governor's race to Jerry Brown ("I again", 7/13/2009). That 1962 news conference is widely known as the "You won't [...]
One of yesterday's guests on Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane was Arika Okrent, author of In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build A Perfect Language. You can listen (or download the mp3) here. I don't know very much about the history of [...]
Last month, it was Barack Obama whose (allegedly) imperial ego was said to be signaled by (fictitious) overuse of first-person singular pronouns. (Follow the link for discussion of columns on the topic by Terence Jeffrey, George F. Will, Stanley Fish, and Mary Kate Cary.) A few days ago, Peggy Noonan's devastating attack on Sarah Palin [...]
Ever since Michael Jackson's unexpected death yesterday, his music has been omnipresent. The iTunes sales charts are overwhelmed by Michael Jackson songs: as of this afternoon, New York Magazine's Vulture blog reports, Jackson appears on 41 songs in the iTunes Top 100 singles chart. One of the top songs is "Wanna Be Startin' [...]
Here's a news story (and accompanying mp3) about a Tennessee songwriter who penned a tune about the recent banning of the apostrophe by a city in the UK. I chuckled at the idea, but could barely make it through the song. ...
Dick Cavett recently called Sarah Palin "The Wild Wordsmith of Wasilla" and "the serial syntax-killer from Wasilla High". He worries that "ambitious politicos" will learn "that frayed syntax, bungled grammar and run-on sentences that ramble on long after thought has given out completely are a candidate’s valuable traits". Peter Suderman, more specific if less witty, [...]
Mendele (Forum for Yiddish Literature and Yiddish Language) publishes a magazine, The Mendele Review, which recently devoted an issue to Waiting for Godot in Yiddish. "There are two known Yiddish translations of the play ? Gizela Shkilnik's posthumously published version from German issued by the Y.-L. Show More Summary
Frequent commenter Jim Salant sent me a link a while back to a reading by Mary Gaitskill of Vladimir Nabokov?s ?Symbols and Signs? (as they call it) and a discussion with The New Yorker?s fiction editor, Deborah Treisman (pronounced TREECE-man). Show More Summary