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Death, Sex & Money

Songs in the Key of Strife

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Teddy and Kami Thompson followed in the footsteps of their musical parents, Richard and Linda Thompson. But they remember their childhood and its lessons about family very differently.

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The Takeaway

The Worst New Words of 2014

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Every year, new words take off and old ones die. Some are preposterous. Some actually make sense. We walk through some of the big ones of 2014 with the Jargonator's Ben Schott.

Comments [11]

Soundcheck

Paloma Faith: A British Pop Star Goes Incognito In New York

Friday, September 26, 2014

The brassy-voiced British pop star stops by our studio to perform songs from her latest album, A Perfect Contradiction.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Scandalous History of Proper English

Thursday, August 28, 2014

How language “mistakes” have come to be accepted as correct—or not.

Comments [11]

The Leonard Lopate Show

How Bad English Became Good English

Monday, June 30, 2014

How language “mistakes” have come to be accepted as correct—or not.

Comments [20]

Soundcheck

Hate The Official World Cup Anthem? Try These Instead

Friday, June 13, 2014

The official song of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is called “We Are One,” by Cuban-American rapper Pitbull, featuring Jennifer Lopez and the Brazilian pop star Claudia Leitte. And if you're not into it, worry not. We have alternatives.

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The Takeaway

How's Your English? Celebrating Grammatical Sins

Monday, June 02, 2014

Ammon Shea's new book, "Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation," is a celebration of grammatical sins of sorts. He says that new words, with new meanings and new rules of grammar, are all just signs of a healthy thriving language.

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Radio Rookies

Losing Language

Friday, June 28, 2013

Grisel speaks Spanish at home with her mom in NYC, and during the summers with her dad and cousins in Puerto Rico. She never thought it was a gift to be bilingual, but her close friend Aura had a very different experience. Aura’s Chilean parents chose to speak English with her when she was a little girl and, as a result, she can’t speak Spanish or communicate easily with her grandparents. Aura longs to have Spanish tumble easily out of her mouth and she wonders why her parents made the choice to teach her English first.

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Radio Rookies

This is America, Speak English

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Radio Rookies Sam and Sydne both grew up in New York City and are used to hearing the polyglot of language that makes up the fabric of this city. The multitude of languages spoken in their communities has never bothered Sam (who speaks Spanish with her parents) or Sydne, which is why they are dismayed by the “English-only” movement and people who express anger over having to “push 1 for English” on automated phone calls. But when some people in their own school and even families express a similar sentiment they decide to dig a little deeper.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Word Maven: Patricia T. O'Conner on Mother's Day

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Our word maven Patricia T. O'Conner talks about the apostrophe and Mother's Day. She’ll also answer questions about language and grammar. An updated and expanded third edition of her book, Woe is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English, is available in paperback, as is  Origins of the Specious, written with Stewart Kellerman.

If you have a question about language and grammar, leave a comment or call us at 212-433-9692!

Comments [41]

Soundcheck

Lie Lady Lie: National Grammar Day and Music

Monday, March 04, 2013

Recently, our regular contributor Faith Salie took to the Soundcheck blog to air her grievances about bad grammar in music. From Paula Cole to Eric Clapton to Leonard Cohen, it turns out that musicians can be rather careless when it comes to grammatical rules and their song lyrics. We talk with Faith, as well as Mignon Fogerty -- founder of the Grammar Girl website and podcast -- about examples of poor grammar in music. Plus, our listeners chime in with their favorite... er, least favorite... examples as well. 

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The Brian Lehrer Show

It's Idiomatic

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Christine Ammer, author of more than three dozen reference books, including The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, Second Edition, gets to the heart of American English idiomatic phrases and explains the listener-submitted idiom, "scared the daylights out of me."

Tomorrow's Assignment:  Update an idiom for the digital age.  What should "turning a new leaf" become, for example?  

 

Comments [3]

Soundcheck

When Bad Grammar Happens To (Mostly) Good Music

Friday, February 15, 2013

We each have songs that, to our particular ear, sound like nails on a chalkboard. And some songs should be deconstructed on a chalkboard…for bad grammar. I’m not talking about slang, colloquialisms, or innovative language. I’m not being punctilious about making sure you don’t end a lyric line with a preposition. In fact, the first dance song at my wedding reception was “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To.” I think it would have lost a little something if it were “To You It’d Be So Nice To Come Home.” Nobody wants to sound sort of like Yoda.

What I’m talking about is crappy syntax. Artistic license is one thing, language mangling is another. Bad grammar is jarring; it takes me out of the flow of the song.

Here’s how I define unnecessarily bad grammar in a song: when it wouldn’t change the rhyme scheme to use the correct word or when the syntax results from being lyrically lazy.

Like this, from the Paula Cole song “I Don’t Wanna Wait”:

"So open up your morning light / And say a little prayer for I"

That lyric makes me say a prayer for the objective case.

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Annotations: The NEH Preservation Project

Alec Waugh's Martinique, and a Brotherly Deed to the World

Friday, January 11, 2013

WNYC

In this amusing, time-capsule of a talk, given at a 1956 Books and Authors Luncheon to promote his best-selling novel Island In the Sun, Alec Waugh explains how he came to write about the West Indies.

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Annotations: The NEH Preservation Project

W. Somerset Maugham Contemplates the Future of American Writers

Friday, November 16, 2012

WNYC

In this 1950 speech given at a Books and Authors Luncheon, W. Somerset Maugham lays out his surprisingly detailed plan for a foreign academy to promote the growth of American literature.

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Schoolbook

City Instructs Schools to Expand Common Core Introduction

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

In an effort to expand the introduction of a new set of learning standards into the city's public schools, officials are asking science and social studies teachers to introduce more reading and writing into students' classwork. This school year, English and math teachers have already begun to adapt their lessons to the new requirements.

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The Takeaway

The Bilingual Advantage

Monday, March 19, 2012

Americans have long debated whether the U.S. should have an official state language. The issue has been back in the spotlight in recent days since Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum said, "There are other states with more than one language, like Hawaii, but to be a state of the United States, English must be the principal language." However, recent studies show that switching between languages may actually make you smarter. 

switching between languages may actually make you smarter. 

Comments [2]

Schoolbook

Mad Libs and Dangling Participles

Monday, January 09, 2012

Grammar, the necessary “evil” that English teachers cannot avoid, is often resisted, both by students and teachers alike. Thus, says one teacher, "we have developed a severe case of Grammarphobia.'' Her solution in the classroom: Use Mad Libs, that popular word game for kids.

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Schoolbook

Mothers Create a Grammar Guide for the Text Generation

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Geraldine Onorato was surprised by the gaps in her son's grammar education, so she and a friend, Donna Harrow, developed a grammar guide suitable for the age of texting and social media. The booklet was given to students in her son's school earlier this month.

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Schoolbook

Storytelling as an English Lesson

Friday, September 16, 2011

Personal stories as told by middle school students trying to learn English are being recorded as part of an innovative program at five city middle schools.

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