Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, a VOA Special English program about music and American life. Plus we answer your questions.
This is Doug Johnson. This week:
Music by John Mayer.
And a question about e-books.
But first, come along with some people who listen in to what Americans are talking about.
Word of the Year
Throughout the year, members of a small group in the United States keep their eyes and ears open for how Americans use their words. The purpose is not to look for ways to correct them. The purpose is to see what new words come into use, and how old words change. Then, in January, after a year's worth of observations, members of this group gather to vote. Jim Tedder takes it from there.
The American Dialect Society is made up of language experts, researchers and teachers. They study how English is used in North America. One of the things they do is choose a word or phrase of the year. About sixty people voted this year. If nothing else, the yearly choices offer an idea of what Americans are thinking about.
The two-thousand-two word of the year, for example, is “weapons of mass destruction.” This term, or W-M-D for short, describes nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Scientists and political experts have talked about weapons of mass destruction for years. But only more recently did other people start to use this term. This happened because of the situation with Iraq and fears of terrorism.
Another word considered for the two-thousand-two honor was the new verb “google.” Google is a search engine on the Internet. People use it to find information. To google someone or something is to look for information on the Internet about that person or thing.
Another computer word was also considered for word of the year. “Blog” is the short form of web log. Web logs are Internet sites that contain personal stories, comments and links to other sites.
The American Dialect Society also considered the phrase “Amber alert” for its two-thousand-two word of the year. An Amber alert is an emergency public announcement when a child is kidnapped. Information is put on radio, television and the Internet to get the public to help in the search. The program began in nineteen-ninety-six. It started after a nine-year-old girl named Amber Hagerman was kidnapped and murdered in Texas. Since then, Amber alert programs have been put in place around the country.
The phrase got a lot of use in March, when fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart was found alive. She had been kidnapped nine months before from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Karnataka, India. T. Basavanyappa asks by e-mail: “What is an e-book?
An e-book is an electronic book. It is like any other book. Only, instead of words on paper, it is words on a screen.
|(Image - Amazon.com)|
Many e-books do have copyright protection. These include electronic versions of newly published books. Steven King, the popular American writer of horror stories, even wrote a book that sold only as an e-book.
One company says it offers more than two-hundred-thousand e-books online. Readers pay by credit card.
As we said, it is easy to find e-books on the Internet. Just enter the word "e-books" into a search engine like Google. Or you might want to go to the Web site of an organization called Project Gutenburg. It offers thousands of books that can be read for free. The address is w-w-w dot g-u-t-e-n-b-e-r-g dot n-e-t. Again, that's g-u-t-e-n-b-e-r-g dot n-e-t. (www.gutenberg.net)
In the coming years, the number of e-books is expected to continue to increase. Many now include music and images. And many come with links to other e-books on the same subject.
Some people are happy to sit at their computer when they read an e-book. But others like to be able to carry a book with them. These people may want to buy an e-book reader. This is a small device that can link with a computer to load the contents of a book. Some will hold as many as ten large books. That way, you can go anywhere and never be without something to read.
John Mayer is preparing to release a new album next month. He is already performing some of the songs in his live shows. Here's Faith Lapidus with more about this popular singer and songwriter.
John Mayer was born in nineteen-seventy-seven in Connecticut, in the American Northeast. By the age of fifteen, he was playing his guitar and performing in local blues clubs. After high school he went to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. But he left after one year.
Critics like the sound of John Mayer’s music. Some fans say his voice makes their hearts smile. He won a Grammy Award this year for a song on his second album, “Room For Squares.” Here it is -- “Your Body Is A Wonderland.”
John Mayer likes to perform all over the country. He is said to have done one-hundred-eighty-eight live shows in one year.
Last September he recorded a live performance in the southern city of Birmingham, Alabama. We leave you now with one of the songs from that show. It's called “Covered in Rain.”
This is Doug Johnson. Our program was written by Jill Moss, Nancy Steinbach and Paul Thompson -- who was also our producer. The studio engineer was Vosco Volaric.
I hope you enjoyed our program! Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.