8.14.14: All About Language

Aug 14, 2014

Credit Taylor Quimby

Prove it, learned behavior, survival of the fittest, organic produce… scientific terminology is part of our common language, but are we using the terms correctly? Today is all about language: starting with our frequent misuse of scientific terms. Plus, France’s government is banning English words like ‘fast-food’ and ‘hashtag’ in the name of cultural preservation…we find out why the words are unlikely to disappear from the vernacular anytime soon. And, deaf Americans who work in science have a unique challenge – helping to develop a scientific vocabulary for sign language.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.

Misused Science Terms

Sign Language for Science

  • Douglas Quenqua is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Wired, Fast-Company, and the New York Times—where he wrote about how users of sign language are working to expand their scientific lexicon.

Keep Calm and Carry On: A History Lesson

  • On Tumblr, outside stores and littering the walls of college dorm rooms, the “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster has become so prevalent and its versions so numerous. We talked to Henry Irving about his article for theconversation.com in which he explores the suprising World War II origins of this slogan.

English’s Loaned Words

  • Britt Peterson is a freelance writer and editor who writes about books, culture, and ideas. Her article, “English, Loanword Champion of the World!” discusses the high percentage of “loaned words” from the English language, and our own word-borrowing habits.

The Origins of Rock and Roll

  • ThoughtCast's Jenny Attiyeh's brings us a story that tries to get at the roots of rock n' roll. We know it when we hear it, but what is it, really?

Born Reading

Freakonomics: The Pros and Cons of a Second Language