Eric (pictured on the far right) with friends in Kuwait in 2006 shortly before going to Iraq.
December 10, 2013

Speaking military slang

Have you ever been a part of a conversation that you didn’t quite understand because you were unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary?


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Susan Goldin-Meadow
October 07, 2013

Talking With Our Hands

We’ve all been accused of talking with our hands, and if mostly everyone does, wouldn’t you think it would play an important role in communication?


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a child doing a cannonball at Sholem Aquatic Center
Photo Courtesy of Champaign Park District
July 23, 2013

Summer Grammarphobia

Vacation, lemonade, air-conditioning…. Ever wonder the origins of the words we use during the summertime? This hour on Focus, Jeff Bossert talks with Patricia O’Conner, author of “Woe is I” about summer grammar. We welcome your grammar pet peeves and questions this hour on Focus!


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Elizabeth Lowe
L. Brian Stauffer
May 14, 2013

Now Hiring: Translators and Interpreters Wanted

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the need for translators and interpreters will increase by 20 percent in the next 7 years. This hour on Focus, we talk about the challenges that come with training translators and meeting that need.


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The flourless chocolate cake we're "taking" during this hour on Focus.
Wikimedia Commons
March 27, 2013

Biting the Bullet and Taking the Cake: Idioms and Our Language

The devil really isn’t in the details, and rarely does anyone literally pull your leg. But we still use these expressions. Why and where do they come from? This hour on Focus, we talked with Christine Ammer, author of the new American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. 


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Drawing of a person with many flags covering his body
January 24, 2013

Bilingual Education

An elementary school in Urbana is piloting a dual language program teaching kindergarten classes almost entirely in Spanish.


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January 16, 2013

Grammar and Linguistics

Dennis Baron will join us for a conversation about language. He is a professor of English at the University of Illinois, and we'll talk about the way that the English language continues to change in spite of its resistance to deliberate reform. You are invited to call with questions about grammar, and of course, complaints about misuse of the language are always welcome.


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October 17, 2012

Linguistics, The English Language and Word Usage

Geoffrey Nunberg, Linguist and professor at University of California at Berkeley’s School of Information.

Host: Craig Cohen

Linguist Geoffrey Nunberg has been commenting on language, usage, and society for NPR's Fresh Air since 1988, and his commentaries on language appear frequently in the New York Times and other publications. The emeritus chair of the American Heritage Dictionary usage panel, his latest book is Ascent of the A-Word. Nunberg has also taught at Stanford University and served as a principal scientist at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center from the mid-1980s to 2000.


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July 13, 2012

Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners

Michael Erard, Ph.D., Senior Reseacher, The Frameworks Institute

Host: David Inge

Almost everyone learns at least one language as a child. Some may learn two or three. But through history there have been accounts of “super learners.” For example, Giuseppe Mezzofanti, a 19th century Italian priest, was said to speak 72 languages. Could such a feat have been possible? Is there someone alive today who could match it? Michael Erard tells the story of his search for the world’s most extraordinary language learners, the subject of his book "Babel No More."

This is a repeat broadcast from Tuesday, January 24, 2012, 11 am


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