language

Daniel Barreto

 

Back in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Suzanne Wagner realized that social distancing requirements had created an unlikely linguistic experiment. 


A bill to make English the official language in Michigan has passed a House committee. HB 4053 would require all public government documents be written in English, although they could be printed in another language as well.

Northern Michigan Representatives Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and Tristan Cole (R-Mancelona) are co-sponsors of the bill.

Language is an essential part of preserving the ancient ties to heritage and culture. And with the native language of the Ojibwe people starting to fade, Chris Gordon has made the preservation of his family's language part of his life's mission. 

Gordon is the first teacher in the state of Michigan to get a K-12 Foreign Language-Native teaching endorsement. He teaches Anishinaabemowin (pronounced a-NISH NAH-BEM-when), the native language of the Ojibwe people, at the Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnabe School in Sault Ste. Marie.

Many would consider arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court to be the pinnacle of a lawyer’s career. For lawyers facing that opportunity, a new study offers advice.

In a nutshell: don’t get flashy and don’t try to tug on “judicial heartstrings” when writing briefs for the big case.

We commonly use the pronouns “he” and “she” to refer to someone, but what if that person doesn’t identify as male or female?

The Washington Post recently gave a green light to using “they” as a singular pronoun.

The gender-neutral title “Mx,” pronounced “mix,” is making its way into dictionaries.

The issue of generic pronouns may be fresh in our minds, but according Anne Curzan, University of Michigan English professor, it’s one that’s been on the table for a while.

So ... these words are 'banished' in 2016

Jan 8, 2016
Aaron Selbig

Every year, Lake Superior State University comes up with a list of banished words – words and phrases they say have become overused. This year’s list includes the words “stakeholder” and “manspreading.”

The top word on this year’s list is “so” – as in beginning a sentence with “so.”

A few of the banished words and phrases are things you hear in public radio. Like the word “conversation” – as in “join the conversation.”

We Michiganders tend to think of ourselves as having no accent, instead speaking with a perfect, neutral broadcast voice. But according to Ted McClelland, that’s not the case.

In his piece for BELT Magazine, McClelland argues that we in the Midwest speak a strain of English that’s shaking up millennia-old conventions.

Have you noticed that there are two pronunciations for the articles “a” (“uh and “ay”) and “the” (thuh and thee)?

Do you pronounce the word “often” with or without the “t”?

In this Stateside interview we explore pronunciation issues with Anne Curzan, University of Michigan English professor and co-host of That's What They Say along with Rina Miller here on Michigan Radio.


The Next Idea

It’s not too hard for many of us to think of words that are just used so much that instead of summoning up a powerful image, they trigger a bored eye roll.

One such word is actually a very big part of The Next Idea: “innovation.”

When used correctly, “innovation” means so much. For companies and universities, entrepreneurs and inventors, it means everything.

But the word is now so overused it tends to get lost in the white noise of corporate buzzwords.

The recent announcement that new emojis are coming to a keyboard near you in 2016 caught our attention. The emoji powers that be (and yes, that exists!) are now deciding which new ones will make it onto our keyboards next year.

Every year, the Word Warriors of Wayne State University come out with a list of the top 10 words that deserve to be spoken and written more often.

Chris Williams is with Wayne State University in Detroit and he joined us today.

You can listen to our conversation with him below.

We use analogies every day. Yet we rarely think about them. They're just part of our vocabulary and our speech. 

But for John Pollack, analogies are not something to be ignored.

Pollack is the author of the new book Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connection, Spark Innovation and Sell Our Greatest Ideas. He believes analogies often have big consequences on how we view the world.

For example, Pollack says there are a lot of analogies that ring true that actually turn out not to be true. 

Pollack mentions the case of the "domino theory" President Eisenhower used in 1954.

The analogy convinced Americans that if they didn't intervene in Vietnam, democratic governments across Southeast Asia would topple like dominoes.

While the analogy translated something complex and far away into everyday language, it falsified the situation: When U.S. forces withdrew from Hanoi in defeat, the neighboring countries didn't topple like dominoes.

New rules take effect today which govern the use of sign language interpreters in Michigan.

The state Department of Civil Rights says people who are deaf or hard of hearing need interpreters with specific skills in different settings.

“There’s a significant difference in the communication that is shared between a doctor and a patient versus what might happen in a training at your workplace,” said Leslee Fritz with the Department of Civil Rights.

“Both communications are important. One has life-altering consequences.”

Welcome, dear "Yooper." And we’re not talking specifically to those of you who live in the Upper Peninsula. We’re talking about the actual word "Yooper." It’s official, according to the 2014 edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

Anne Curzan is an English professor at the University of Michigan, and she joins us every Sunday on Michigan Radio for "That's What They Say."  Anne joined us today to discuss the specifics of this new official word. 

Listen to the full interview above.