Code Switch: Word Watch
Apr 13, 2014 — The Persian and Indian garment was brought home by British colonials and made stylish for women by French designers. At first, PJs were seen as a cultural challenge to the American use of nightshirts.
Mar 30, 2014 — The words used to describe race and ethnicity are ever in flux. A favored term one decade becomes passť the next and not nice soon after that. But, the motivation for change remains constant: Respect.
Mar 23, 2014 — Vanilla has become a cultural metaphor for blandness and whiteness. But the flavor's history is rife with conquest and slavery and theft.
Mar 17, 2014 — For our weekly word watch, we turn to "the idea of tremulous motion, swaying backwards and forward." Put another way, we are talking about swagger.
Feb 24, 2014 — Citations dating back to 1886 hint that the phrase might come from a Cantonese word.
Feb 16, 2014 — This network of performance venues — nightclubs, bars, juke joints and theaters — formed during Jim Crow because black performers in the U.S. didn't have access to white-owned clubs. But what did chitlins have to do with it?
Feb 10, 2014 — "Moron" wasn't always hurled as an insult. The word was coined by Henry H. Goddard, a researcher and psychologist who intended it to be used as a medical term to quantify cognitive disabilities.
Jan 27, 2014 — Being "sold down the river" means you've been betrayed. It used to mean something far worse. NPR's Code Switch traces the history of the phrase and spells out its original meaning in the first half of the 19th century.
Jan 14, 2014 — Who was the first person to call a house a "crib"? We trace the answer from the Bard to MTV's show, Cribs.
Jan 6, 2014 — The first recorded utterance of the word was by a man named Richard Henry Pratt, whose legacy among Native Americans and others is deeply contentious. His story illustrates problems with how the word is used today.