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Pedro Ribiero Simoes / Creative Commons

It's nice to meet you! How do you like it here in Connecticut? 

Small talk is both the bane of our existence and essential in our existential quest to understand our place in the world.

Whether you like it or hate it may depend, in part, on whether you like speech that establishes and maintains relationships or speech that provides information. 

We talk to a humorist, writing teacher, meteorologist, and philosopher about small talk. And we want to hear about your small talk stories. 

Travis Isaacs / Creative Commons

Humans typically make enough collective noise to keep the earth vibrating at a steady hum. But the pandemic has quieted that hum enough to let seismologists study the vibrations that can be hard to detect in the din of our noise.

Speech disfluencies are mysterious. They are defined as breaks or disruptions that occur in the flow of speech.

For over 10 years, I was the midday host at Connecticut Public Radio, telling you the weather, the time, what show was coming up next — And at the top of every hour, the call letters.

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

No one likes a cloudy sky. A cloud on the horizon is seen as a harbinger of doom. We feel like clouds need to have silver linings.

But here's our thesis: Clouds are unfairly maligned.

Consider this: From almost any vantage point (literally -- any vantage point in the universe), clouds are planet Earth's defining characteristic.

They're what changes, what moves. They're what's going on on our pale blue dot.

Do You Speak Corona?

Jun 10, 2020
EpicTop10 / Creative Commons

It took two years for the word AIDS to get from coinage to dictionary. It took COVID-19 thirty-four days. The pandemic has inspired a thousand new or repurposed words, slang, nicknames, and neologisms.

It has changed the way we speak.  

Travis Isaacs / Creative Commons

Humans typically make enough collective noise to keep the earth vibrating at a steady hum. But the pandemic has quieted that hum enough to let seismologists study the vibrations that can be hard to detect in the din of our noise.

Wikimedia Commons

In March, President Trump blamed our global pandemic on China. When that didn't work, he blamed the World Health Organization (WHO) for not responding quickly enough to the virus. When that didn't work, he blamed governors for not getting their own supplies. Now, he says immigrants will take away American jobs.

The Bible defines a scapegoat as one of two kid goats. One goat was sacrificed and the living “scapegoat” was supposed to absorb the sins of the community and carry them into the wilderness. Is that what's happening here? Are the president's scapegoats supposed to carry away the sins of Mr. Trump?

Andrew Deacon / Creative Commons

Most of the characteristics we associate with hotels -- the welcoming yet alienating effect they have on our psyches -- we absorbed from the artists, musicians, and filmmakers who have long been fascinated with the relationship between our physical travels and our spiritual journeys.

Peter Sokolowski, lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, fears we're currently having a crisis of meaning in our cultural understanding and use of words.

How do we understand phrases like "fake news"? Does it mean news that has no relationship to reality or is it how President Trump refers to truth-based news he doesn't like? What is an "alternative fact"?

There's a good chance that President Trump knows that the stain of impeachment will be part of his legacy. And as damning details about the president's behavior trickle out, we're realizing how much we still don't know. This may explain why impeachment may be more popular than we realize.

David Howard / Creative Commons

Christianity Today, an evangelical Christian publication founded by Billy Graham in 1956, published an editorial Thursday by editor-in-chief Mark Galli, calling for President Trump to be removed from office. 

Flickr Creative Commons

When this forum was originally scheduled, it was intended as a conversation about how our language is changing. Example, the idiom "woke" or "#woke" has a very keen set of meanings to one group and flies by another.

rbeard113 / Creative Commons

Private weather companies are cropping up to produce weather and climate models that have historically been provided by the government. Private weather forecasting is a $7 billion industry that threatens the dominance of the National Weather Service and could lead to a tiered system of access.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Merriam-Webster has added 533 new words to its dictionary. Words like "deep state," "pickleball," "escape room," and "Bechdel test." My favorite is probably "fatberg." But there's a particular new dictionary entry that The Nose is specifically interested in: "dad joke."

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

There's kind of a lot going on this week: There's rumored to be a new 007. The Emmy nominations are out. There's a new dating trend called 'Caspering.' Farhad Manjoo thinks we should all use the singular 'they.' 1.7 million people want to raid Area 51. Anthony Fantano (or an animated version of Anthony Fantano, really) is in the new "Old Town Road" video. During the New York City blackout, Star Wars fans helped direct traffic... with their lightsabers. And: The Cats trailer is out, and it's maybe kind of, uh, horrifying?

Lets Eat Grandma!

May 1, 2019
Danielle Blumenthal / Flickr Creative Commons

Who would have thought that a book on grammar would be #5 on Amazon's best-seller list? (Should that be "whom" would have thought? Should I write out the number five? Should it be "bestseller?" Ugh. I can't remember if the exclamation goes inside or outside the quotation mark in the sentence I just asked myself.)

Bert Heymans / Creative Commons

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing often struggle to develop language, so state lawmakers are considering a bill that would require districts to collect and share data on their language abilities.

Lets Eat Grandma!

Feb 11, 2019
Danielle Blumenthal / Creative Commons

Who would have thought that a book on grammar would be #5 on Amazon's best-seller list? (Should that be "whom" would have thought? Should I write out the number five? Should it be "bestseller?" Ugh. I can't remember if the exclamation goes inside or outside the quotation mark in the sentence I just asked myself.)

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

Language is an untamable beast. You can decide that infinitives aren't to be split and that "whom" is the objective form of "who" and that "literally" literally means literally. But here's the thing: Language doesn't have to care one way or the other what nonsense you've decided.

hobvias sudoneighm / flickr creative commons

Semiotics is the study of sign process, which is to say: it's the science of the search for meaning.

And then, part of the underlying premise of semiotics -- which just happens to be part of the underlying premise of The Colin McEnroe Show, itself -- is that there's meaning... everywhere.

PBS Newshour / Creative Commons

A new study from Yale University concludes that white liberals actually make themselves appear less competent when interacting with African Americans.

Elias Baker / John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

Nicholson Baker once spent a portion of his retirement savings to rescue first edition newspapers from being destroyed. He also fought to save card catalogues and to prevent library managers from sending thousands of books to landfills in their rush to microfilm. 

He fought on behalf of all of us who think about what is lost when the specifics of a particular moment are worn away or forgotten or altered in the subsequent retellings of the original observations. It's kind of like a childhood game of telephone where the original message is passed from child to child until the last person relays a message with little resemblance to the original. 

Mark Anderson / Creative Commons

Shakespeare was famous for his off-color puns, yet much of their cleverness has been lost to the  evolution of our English language.

In Shakespeare's English, the word "nothing" was pronounced as "no-ting," which at that time was a euphemism for um, a female lady part. In modern parlance, that would translate to Much Ado About... (female lady part.) Much is lost between Elizabethan times and today. 

Mark Anderson / Creative Commons

We're having a pun contest this Wednesday, October 24, 1-2 pm. Wanna join? Send us a pun on any of these topics - animals, food, politics. (Or, just send us your best)

Call us at 860-275-7266 during our live show, Tweet us anytime @wnprcolin, or comment on this post on our Facebook page.

Andrew Turner / Creative Commons

There's a mostly forgotten story by the mostly forgotten sci-fi writer, R.A. Lafferty. It's called, "What's The Name of That Town." We meet a team of scientists and an amusing sentiant computer examining clues that suggested something existed once upon a time and has now been erased.

It turns out to be the city of Chicago which has been obliterated in an accident so traumatic that the city's existence has been wiped from all records and from peoples actual memories.

hobvias sudoneighm / flickr creative commons

Semiotics is the study of sign process, which is to say: it's the science of the search for meaning.

And then, part of the underlying premise of semiotics -- which just happens to be part of the underlying premise of The Colin McEnroe Show, itself -- is that there's meaning... everywhere.

zenilorac / flickr creative commons

Numbers are so fundamental to our understanding of the world around us that we maybe tend to think of them as an intrinsic part of the world around us. But they aren't. Humans invented numbers just as much as we invented all of language.

Sucking Up

Mar 27, 2018
Bob Jenkins / Creative Commons

At President Trump's first full cabinet meeting in June 2017, we watched with some amusement while each member expressed over-the-top gratitude for the president's giving them the privilege to serve him and/or the American people. 

Dave Newman / Creative Commons

President Trump is changing the office of the presidency.

He spent his first year in office defying political conventions and norms followed by the forty-four presidents before him. Some would say that he is squandering the moral integrity of the presidency. Will these changes outlast his tenure? How durable is the office of the presidency?

Sucking Up

Nov 30, 2017
Bob Jenkins / Creative Commons

At President Trump's first full cabinet meeting in June 2017, we watched with some amusement while each member expressed over-the-top gratitude for the president's giving them the privilege to serve him and/or the American people. 

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