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Word of Mouth


Series exploring the world of words and the ways in which we use them

Series exploring the world of words and the ways in which we use them


London, United Kingdom




Series exploring the world of words and the ways in which we use them




Word of Mouth, BBC Radio 4, Bristol, BS8 2LR. 08 700 100400


The power of telling stories

Michael Rosen talks to storyteller Clare Muireann Murphy about how telling and listening to stories can transport both the teller and their audience in wonderfully unexpected ways. Stories change minds, shift perspectives and save lives. Human beings have been telling them to each other for thousands of years, and Clare has experienced the power of stories in transforming trauma into growth. The podcast version of this programme contains the full conversation between Michael and Clare....


Sindhu Vee

Michael talks to comedian Sindhu Vee about her life in language. Why hearing Nepalese, a language she no longer speaks, can make her cry, how she uses Hindi idioms in comedy, and how she cured her stutter with a thesaurus. Producer Sally Heaven


Real Talk

Michael Rosen talks to conversation analyst Elizabeth Stokoe about the science of talk. Why infinitesimal pauses and saying hello matter, and the choice of 'speak' over 'talk' can save lives. Where does comedy get it right, and where does artificial intelligence get it wrong? Producer Sally Heaven.


Communicating Climate Change

From the greenhouse effect, through global warming to climate chaos, Michael Rosen talks to George Marshall about the best ways to communicate what's happening to the planet. Producer Sally Heaven.


NHS language use

Michael Rosen talks with Sara Wilcox, NHS content designer, about how they decide which words to use on the NHS website. Consultant Dr Hugh Rayner describes his initiative to encourage consultants to write letters to their outpatient clinic patients directly and in clear language, rather than via their GP. When it comes to the NHS, communication can be a matter of life or death. Subscribe to the Word of Mouth podcast and never miss an episode. Producer Beth O'Dea Related Links: The content...



Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright talk to Professor Dawn Archer about her work in evaluating deception: is it possible to tell when someone might be lying and what are the clues? Dawn shares her analysis of the language used in a news interview and a press conference by two men who were trying to deceive the public but were later found guilty of very serious crimes. Producer Beth O'Dea



Michael Rosen returns to explore how metaphors shape our lives with author James Geary. We live, breathe and think in metaphors and communication would be impossible without them. In a far-reaching conversation, Michael and James tease out what they are, why they exist and why we need them in our language. And how it is that the Greek word from which the English word metaphor is derived is still in everyday use in its country of origin. James Geary is the author of I Is an Other: The Secret...


Anglo Saxon

Michael Rosen explores the origins of English in the Anglo-Saxon world. Ancient riddles, poems and a multi-cultural Britain, in the company of historical linguist Dr Laura Wright and Professor Andy Orchard. Producer: Melvin Rickarby.


The Language of Science

Michael Rosen looks at how English is used in Science. From the florid writings of the 17th century to modernist poetry and school experiments. With historian Charlotte Sleigh and historical linguist Laura Wright. Producer: Melvin Rickarby


Gabriel Gbadamosi

Michael Rosen meets London-born writer Gabriel Gbadamosi, to talk Dickens and dialect. With historical linguist Laura Wright they look at Gabriel's novel Vauxhall, and how the types of English found on the streets of London find their way into his work, and that of Dickens, Chaucer and Henry Green. Producer: Melvin Rickarby


Philosophy in English

Michael Rosen looks at philosophy in English, from 17th century ideas to modern corporate slogans, via the daffodils of William Wordsworth. With historical linguist Laura Wright and philosopher Jonathan Rée Producer: Melvin Rickarby



Michael Rosen discovers how the Vikings changed English. These invaders brought with them the words knife, gun, slaughter, ransack and anger. But then they settled, using their anger, verbs and great hair to transform our grammar, and our understanding of the landscape. With author Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough and historical linguist Laura Wright. Producer: Melvin Rickarby


Glyn Maxwell

Michael Rosen explores the sound and rhythm of English with acclaimed poet Glyn Maxwell. From nursery rhymes and nonsense poetry to Shakespeare and Bob Dylan. Producer: Melvin Rickarby


The most powerful word

Michael Rosen explores the strange history of 'The', the most influential word in English. It's used more than twice as much as any other English word, and has given philosophers centuries of head-scratching. So how did a word which means nothing, and didn't even exist in Old English, come to dominate our language? With linguists Laura Wright and Jonathan Culpeper, and philosopher Barry Smith. Producer: Melvin Rickarby


The First Language

Michael Rosen asks what the earliest language was and how it evolved. Michael joins linguist Dr Laura Wright on a journey to meet our meat-scavenging, fire-harnessing ancestors to discover the primal sources of language. There are thousands of languages today - is it possible to trace them back to a single ancestor? With anthropologist Robert Foley and linguist Maggie Tallerman. Producer: Melvin Rickarby


Raymond Antrobus

Michael Rosen meets acclaimed poet Raymond Antrobus. Winner of the 2018 Ted Hughes award for new work in poetry, his collection The Perserverence brings together autobiographical poems on race, deafness and family. He joins Michael Rosen to discuss language, sign language and deafness. Producers: Melvin Rickarby and James Cook



Damian Le Bas talks to Michael Rosen about the Romani language and his experience with using it. Damian is the author of The Stopping Places: A Journey Through Gypsy Britain. Producer Beth O'Dea


The Language of Comics

Can a series of images be 'read' like a series of words? What makes something a language? We have written, spoken and signed languages, but could the sequences of images we see in comics also qualify? Michael Rosen explores the visual language of comics and graphic novels, with comics theorist and cognitive researcher Neil Cohn, author of The Visual Language of Comics. Producer: Mair Bosworth


Jeffrey Boakye on black-related words

Jeffrey Boakye talks to Michael Rosen about exploring black British identity, including his own, through the words used by and about black men and women. Jeffrey's the author of Black, Listed and of Hold Tight: Black Masculinity, Millennials & the Meaning of Grime. Producer Beth O'Dea


Biscuit Names

Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright look into the weird and wonderful world of biscuit names while munching some in the studio with Anastasia Edwards, author of Biscuits and Cookies, A Global History. Why is it a Garibaldi and how about a Jammie Dodger? Producer Beth O'Dea