Code Switch: Word Watch
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.
Dec 30, 2013 — You might know that the word "gypped" — often used to describe being cheated — comes from the word 'gypsy.' But less well known is the fact that it comes from derogative stereotypes about the Roma people.
Dec 15, 2013 — Zombies populate our books, graphic novels, movies and video games with race and slavery playing an unexpected role. Our national obsession with zombies dates back centuries and can be traced to Haiti. Code Switch examines how the word "zombie" was born and how it has taken a life of its own.
Dec 8, 2013 — Jive-talking, jazz-loving "hep cats" from the 1930s and 1940s are the great-grandparents of today's hipsters. The interest of white fans in black music helped fill Harlem's nightclubs and prompted derision. Hipsters were criticized for being the equivalent of a "pretentious poet laureate."
Nov 25, 2013 — Although the slur today is used mostly in the context of the Caribbean, in the past it was often applied to low-wage, immigrant laborers in the United States.