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Language

Yarik Molina (right, standing) was teaching assistant during the April 11, 2019, Spanish in the Community class at UNT Dallas. Before being a TA, Molina and his mom both took the class before passing their citizenship test.
Bill Zeeble / KERA News

This semester, University of North Texas at Dallas students have been teaching local Spanish speakers how to take the U.S. naturalization test. The crowded class keeps growing.

Time was when the word "socialism" had a firm footing in the American political lexicon, with as many meanings as it has collected in all the other nations where it has taken root — as mixed or pure, as planned or market, as democratic or authoritarian, as a dogma or simply an aspiration — "the name of our desire," as the critic Irving Howe (and Lewis Coser) famously defined it.

Charlottesville city government was upended after a woman was killed and others injured in a car attack by a white supremacist in 2017. White nationalists had targeted Charlottesville for a "Unite The Right Rally" after the Virginia town decided to take down a Confederate statue, part of its reckoning with a fraught racial history.

Benjamin Dreyer (@BCDreyerhas dedicated his life to grammar. As the vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief at Random House, he’s helped dozens of authors fine turn their work.

"Teacher's pet." "Know-it-all." "Brown-noser." These are just some of the terms students lob at each other in (and out) of school - especially at students who demonstrate strong mastery of a subject or are enthusiastic in class. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton  explore how and why those labels are used and why they might not pack the punch they used to.

An announcement from NPR today is sure to make at least a couple of listeners and readers happy: NPR has changed the official title of my job to "Public Editor," from "Ombudsman."

Random House copy chief Benjamin Dreyer is not a fan of the word "very."

"It's not a dreadful word," he allows, but "it's one of my little pet words to do without if you can possibly do without it."

"Very" and its cousins "rather" and "really" are "wan intensifiers," Dreyer explains. In their place, he advises that writers look for a strong adjective that "just sits very nicely by itself" on the page. For example, "very smart" people can be "brilliant" and "very hungry" people can be "ravenous."

Note to readers: this post uses profanity that may offend some.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Trying to keep up with medical terminology and acronyms during a doctor’s visit can be tricky for anyone. Imagine if you and your doctor didn’t speak the same language. 

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

It’s a little after 6:30 at night inside Daugherty Elementary in Garland, but classes are in session. Alvaro Méndez stands in front of a group of eager students: They're parents learning English.

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Birds and babies may seem like very different creatures, but a new study from UT Southwestern Medical Center has uncovered parallels in how both species master language.

Dr. Todd Roberts, who's spearheading the research, explains how a network of neurons in the brains of zebra finches could expand our understanding of how people learn speech.

Angel Vazquez is 9 years old, has hearing loss in both ears, has trouble speaking and struggles to concentrate in class. He's a year behind in school, just learned how to read and is still learning English. For nearly two years, his mom, Angeles Garcia, tried to get him evaluated for special education at his elementary school in Houston.

Garcia sent the school three letters, pleading for an assessment. She even included medical documents describing some of his disabilities, but she says the school ignored her.

Coke, Pop, Soda: Inside The Regional Dialects Of America

Nov 22, 2016
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As many of us board planes for the holidays, we’ll run into people from across the country who may not say things the same way we do.

D.Fajio/Flickr

The English language can be pretty confusing to even native speakers. Vowel sounds change depending on the word. There are letters that are silent in some words, but not in others. However, one of the biggest linguistic debates centers around the lack of a second-person plural pronoun.

Meredith Rizzo / NPR

The topic for this week’s Friday Conversation is the militarization of language. KERA’s vice president of news, Rick Holter, goes into the trenches with Mark Memmott, standards and practices editor for NPR.

Optics: Shedding Light On What We Shouldn't See

Apr 8, 2013

Trends in media-speak come and go. Commentator Paula LaRocque's ready to say goodbye to one in particular.

The Power Of The Simile

Mar 15, 2013

  

Dependable as a  dictionary, commentator Paula LaRocque explores the power of the simile.

Texas Twang Fixin' To Ride Off Into The Sunset

Dec 5, 2012

When most people think of Texas — and what makes a Texan — one of the first things that might come to mind is the way Lyndon Johnson or the late Gov. Ann Richards spoke.

But these days, "talking Texan" sounds a whole lot different than it did just a few decades ago.