The World - The World in Words
Telling real stories in translation10/27/14
Reporter Aaron Schachter met Iraqi interpreter Ayub Nuri in Baghdad in 2003. Since then, they have forged a relationship based on a shared desire to bear witness.
How dialects from Trinidad to Hawaii are expanding the limits of English
We may be in the midst of a golden age of vernacular English literature. Writers like Junot Diaz and M. NourbeSe Philip are introducing readers-- and the the English language-- to thoughts and expressions from their cultural backyards.
Is there such thing as an untranslatable word?
A conversation with Michael Wood, one of the editors of the "Dictionary of Untranslatables."
Russian curses are inventive, widely-used—and banned
Russian filmmakers must either avoid using profane dialogue or seek alternative ways to show their films, now that Russian 'mat' is no longer permitted in public performances
How did English become the language of science?
Don't be fooled by all those Latin, French and German words, says Princeton science historian Michael Gordin. English has long since won science's language war. How that happened has more to do with history than science.
Cajuns are as divided as ever over the word, 'coonass'
Because the word's origins are murky, it's difficult to know just how insulting calling someone a 'coonass' used to be. For some Cajuns today, it's a badge of honor.
A brief history of simultaneous interpretation
Conceived at the Nuremberg trials, simultaneous interpretation is widely used at global meetings. The interpreters at the UN, EU and elsewhere are humans, not bots. And they're all about getting the nuances right in real time. Take that, Google...
The grammar of cuisine
Every cuisine has its own rules about what you eat, when you eat it and how you eat it, says Dan Jurafsky, author of "The Language of Food."
Time to re-translate the Brothers' Grimm: practice makes perfect!
In his retelling of Grimms' fairy tales Adam Gidwitz returns to the blood and gore of the original, while adding his own comments that have a distinctly contemporary flavor.
Parliamentary-style debates are becoming popular in China
Some topics are off limits, but debate contests are part of an effort to instill independent thinking in young Chinese.
A University of Kansas linguist is risking the ire of Russia in helping...
The Kazakh language uses the Cyrillic script, but Dutch-born linguist Allard Jongman is helping this oil-rich former Soviet state switch to the Latin Alphabet.
The linguistic curiosities of dating online
Despite her better judgment, New York-based Russian writer Anya Ulinich uses the web to seek out potential mates. She finds it all but impossible to interpret the profiles of American men, and they don't understand her any better.
Language tensions in Modi's India
Hindi and Urdu are similar when spoken, but they use different scripts. Over time, they have become cultural and religious symbols. Plus, the People's Linguistic Survey of India.
John Smith, Pocahontas, and the beginnings of American English
How long does it take for a new variety of a language to evolve once somebody lands in a particular part of the world?
How English nearly got a language academy
Back in the 17th century there was a big move to create rules for English, based on Latin. The man behind it, poet John Dryden, thought that Shakespeare and others had turned English into an unruly mess. Had Dryden succeeded, would his academy have...
Shakespeare's word coinages are just the start of his contribution to...
Shakespeare may not have invented as many words as once thought, but he turned the English language on its head. Perhaps that's the reason that both he and English have such global appeal.
From its beginnings to the present day, English has been a hodgepodge
Despite what grammar sticklers think, there was never a golden age of pure English: the language always been an unruly mishmash of other languages. Just consult the Venerable Bede, a 7th century monk who documented the beginnings of English.
What's the point of learning Russian?
During the Cold War, you could get a job at the Pentagon or State Department job if you spoke Russian. Today you're guaranteed nothing more than the agony of grappling with Russian grammar. Still, there are signs that a few Americans are taking the...
A "lexicon" of chimp gestures may tell us things about our own language
Researchers at the University of St. Andrews have compiled a list of 66 gestures that that they say chimpanzees use to communicate with each other.
How to sound simultaneously English and Spanish at the World Cup
Native Spanish speaker Fernando Palomo does English language TV commentary for ESPN. He offers US viewers instant analysis that draws on his soccer-obsessed Latin American background.
- Boston, MA
WGBH Educational Foundation
One Guest Street
Boston, MA 02135617-300-5750