language

Des Moines Public Schools

Iowa’s K-12 school year is only about half-way over, but many districts around the state have begun the process of hiring for the 2017-2018 academic year. Des Moines Public Schools, the state’s largest district, says it plans to hire more than 100 teachers based on anticipated retirements and resignations. 

More than 10 percent of the new hires will be special education teachers. These instructors are particularly difficult to find, due to the various certifications within this area of teaching.

portrait by George Catlin, photo courtesy of Cliff / Flickr

Moccasin, chipmunk, hickory--many words from Native American languages have morphed into words we use in modern American English. English language expert Patricia O’Connor explains that many Native American words that have been adopted into English still retain their native associations, but there are many words especially for animals and different kinds of food that have gone full cross cultural.

Using an u

nusual spelling of a word or a fancy French saying may seem like an easy way to sound elegant, but in reality the roots of the words or sayings are not what you think they are. 

On this episode of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with English language expert Patricia O’Conner about pretentious spellings and pronunciations. O'Conner is the author of Woe is I and writes on grammar blog, Grammarphobia

Lake Superior State University in Michigan has been issuing its "Banished Words List" since 1975.  The wordsmiths there now have over 800 entries on their list of overused, tired and shopworn words and phrases. 

Better than Bacon / Iowa Public Radio

Steven Pinker has studied language and the mind for more than two decades. Now, he's written The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Though he's added another book to the pantheon of writing guides and rule books out there, he's the last to say that a reference text is in charge of what is and isn't allowed in writing.

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Most of the time, there's more to what we say than the words we use. English language expert Patricia O'Connor says that the tone, volume and pitch of our voice, as well as our body language, plays a huge role in how we communicate. Those aspects of conversation are called paralanguage. 

"The para in paralinguistics  is taken from a Greek word. It means parallel or equal to but outside of language," she explains.  "The message is right there under the surface."

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The names of two of the four seasons we have in Iowa come from Germanic languages; such is not the case with “spring.”

That's according to Patricia O’Connor, author of the book “Woe is I." The word evolved in English and the story behind it is actually quite poetic.

 O’Connor says it’s a wonderful example of how a word develops.

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Euphemisms can be used for many purposes, but perhaps none more useful than substituting for swear words.

Halloween can almost generate a dictionary of its own.

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Have you ever wondered where the word "soccer" come from and why we use it?

Photo courtesy of Angela Burda and Stephen Hughes

Aphasia is a language disorder that affects one’s ability to remember words. It’s usually caused by brain damage but has also been linked to other disorders like cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. For most who have it, it makes it hard to have conversations and be social.

Scott McLeod

Beanball, bender, bleeder, brushback, bull pen… baseball has a language all its own. Today on Talk of Iowa, English language expert Patricia O’Conner "plays ball." Host Charity Nebbe talks to O'Connor about baseball lingo and, of course, she answers your language questions.

John Pemble/ Iowa Public Radio

Iowa schools are becoming more diverse, and English Language Learning services are in greater need.  Districts are trying to adapt, and the Iowa legislature has some ideas for addressing the issue.  On this Legislative Day River to River program, guests include Des Moines Senator Janet Petersen, Council Bluffs Representative Mary Ann Hanusa, Legislative Analyst for the Urban Education Network Margaret Buckton, English Language Learners Program Coordinator for the Des Moines Public Schools Vinh Nguyen, and Director of Refugee Services at Lutheran Services in Iowa Nick Wuertz.

Clay Masters / IPR

At Meredith Middle School on Des Moines’ northwest side there are more than 30 ways students say hello. The number of languages can change week to week. This school year the Des Moines school district will receive more than 6 million dollars from federal and state funds for ELL services, and will also spend more than a million dollars of its own money. Next year the district plans to have more than 6,000 ELL students.

Jaroslav A. Polák

For our weekly news buzz program, we get a review of the pending U.S. farm bill that is moving through Congress, how businesses are dealing with the Affordable Care Act, modern humans have a surprising amount of genes that come from Neanderthals, an important piece of art is returning to Iowa, a new  smartphone app designed in Iowa with which users can hear and see how to pronounce certain foreign language sounds, and we hear from a couple mayors of towns on this year’s RAGBRAI route. 

Angr / Wikipedia

Iowans like to believe they don’t have accents, but in truth everyone has a distinct way of speaking. Host Charity Nebbe discusses regional dialects with linguist Aaron Dinkin and folk historian Tom Morain.  They explain why people in northern Iowa say "I'm bushed" when tired, how language changes over time and what changes are taking place right now.

Evan Long

In this News Buzz show we talk with state maintenance engineer for the Iowa DOT Bob Younie about the winter driving conditions for today and the weekend, State Certified Sign Language Interpreter Lindsey Kang about what makes for good sign language, Captain Jim Steffen from the Iowa City Police Department about protecting police dogs, Dennis Lee and Daren Schumaker from Team 99 Counties, and The Des Moines Register's Kyle Munson about his coverage of odd stories about animals this year.

Charity Nebbe / The view from "Talk of Iowa" host Charity Nebbe's front door at sunset.

What makes Iowa stand apart from the rest of the Midwest. Tom Morain of Graceland University in Lamoni and Mike Draper of Raygun, the Des Moines-based satirical t-shirt company, sit down with host Charity Nebbe to discuss Iowa unique.

Miguel Vaca

Join host Charity Nebbe to hear about out how foreign languages are being taught in some elementary schools in Iowa and about the benefits of introducing a new language early in life.  Guests include administrators and teachers of foreign language in Iowa.

marya / flickr

Thanks to a very public performance a few weeks ago, most of us now know what it means to 'twerk.'  Join host Charity Nebbe for her talk with English language expert Patricia O’Conner.  Hear about some of the newest words in our lexicon such as 'twerk,' 'selfie,' and 'squee.' They also explore the list of words college students are most likely to look up. 

One day in 1968, the day after the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, Jane Elliott, a teacher in the small town of Riceville, divided her third-grade class into blue-eyed and brown-eyed groups…and gave them a lesson in discrimination. 

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Host Charity Nebbe and Patricia O'Connor, aka The Word Maven, discuss the words and phrases of summer.  O'Connor reveals the origins of dog days, bikini, lemonade and barbecue.

f2point8 / flickr

Forty years ago this month Nixon’s top White House staffers, HR Haldeman and John Ehrlichman resigned over the Watergate Scandal.  On today's Talk of Iowa we talk about how Watergate changed our culture and our language with historian Colin Gordon and English language expert Patricia O’Connor.  

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Here in Iowa we like to believe that we don’t have an accent, but Iowans do have a distinct way of speaking. Host Charity Nebbe talks about regional dialects with academic Aaron Dinkin and folk historian Tom Morain. We find out how we came to speak the way we do, how language changes over time and what changes are taking place right now.

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Iowa Public Radio's Sandhya Dirks joins Sarah McCammon to discuss the real meaning of "momentum" ... and whether either campaign can claim to have it.  Iowa State University physicist John Hauptman weighs in.

Open vocabulary book
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Boom, shimmy, giggle, squeak… these words are called echoic words, words whose sound echo what they stand for. Host Charity Nebbe talks with English language expert Patricia O’Conner about these and other onomatopes that belong to the English language.