Linguist David Crystal describes English as a "vacuum cleaner of a language." Speakers merrily swipe some words from other languages, adopt others because they're cool or sound classy, and simply make up other terms.
To all appearances, Chris and Lisa Faris seemed to have it all together. He rose through the ranks of the U.S. Special Operations Command to become its top enlisted man, command sergeant major, and his wife tended to their family and many others on his long deployments.
With pride and sadness, writer David Freed watched his son go off to the war in Afghanistan. In the Los Angeles Times, Freed suggests that politicians who vote or make orders to deploy service members don't understand what it means to have a loved one serve. Originally broadcast April 4, 2012.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. What makes some nations succeed while others fail? In his Pulitzer Prize-winner, "Guns, Germs and Steel," Jared Diamond looked back over thousands of years of human history and concluded that geography allowed Eurasia to get a big head start and develop agriculture, writing, bureaucracy and the military technologies that led to dominance over much of the globe.
New York Police have reported a possible break in the case of Etan Patz, the 6-year-old boy who vanished 33 years ago on his way to school. No one was ever charged in his case, and the episode was a deep personal tragedy for the Patz family.
A recent poll found only half of people who have spent time in a hospital in the past year were very satisfied with their care. The rest complained about mistakes, poor communication and unresponsive nurses. But to better serve patients, some hospitals are changing the way they do business.
The CIA has faced intense criticism for reporting, incorrectly, that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten got direct access to CIA analysts to discuss the lessons learned from Iraq, and how they're applying them to a new intelligence target: Iran.
Nearly 4 million people are members of CouchSurfing.org and can find a host in every country — including North Korea — free of charge.
New Yorker staff writer Patricia Marx became a member recently and stayed with seven friendly strangers, from a graduate student in Iowa City to a couple in Bermuda in their 60s. She wrote about her experience for the magazine.
Don Waters was 3 when his father, Robert Stanley Waters, abandoned the boy and his mother. But before Robert Waters died, he sent Don a short autobiography, hoping it would help him understand his father.
It took years before Don could bring himself to read it. When he did, he discovered an unsuspected past — and a shared passion for surfing. What he read prompted him to take a trip along the California coast, where his father played a part in establishing the surfer culture's first beachhead on the American mainland.