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Want to learn a second or third language? You don't have to slave away in a French seminar ? it only takes a minute or two to pick up ob. Next time on tob-oo thob-ah bob-est ob-of ob-our knob-ow-lob-edge. Or should I say To the Best of Our Knowledge, word games, and secret languages from pig-latin to op and ob. Also, skunks and caucuses: the patriotic history of Webster's revolutionary dictionary.
Linguist John McWhorter tells Steve Paulson that he became fascinated with languages when he was a child. He says all six thousand contemporary languages evolved from a single source and that there's no such thing as a pure language. They all keep changing all the time. McWhorter teaches linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and is the author of "The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language."SEGMENT 2:
Reporter Matt Lieber offers his reflections on crossword puzzles and the people who love them, from the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, held recently in Stamford, CT. Also, linguist Mike Hammond talks about made-up language games with Jim Fleming. Going way beyond pig latin, we hear samples from "The Name Game," as well as "ob" and "Geta." "To the Best of Our Knowledge" has never sounded like this before!SEGMENT 3:
Historian Jill Lepore talks with Jim Fleming about Noah Webster and his dictionary. She says Webster thought Americans should have their own language and he celebrated American words like "skunk" and "caucus." Webster's portrait was painted by Samuel Morse, who made his own contribution to language by devising "Morse Code" for the newly invented telegraph. Lepore's latest book is "A Is for American."Cassette copies are available at 1-800-747-7444. Ask for program number 02-03-24-A.
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