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The World in Words

PRI

The World in Words is a podcast about languages and the people who speak them. What happens to the brain on bilingualism? Does it matter that so many languages are dying out? Should we fear the rise of global English? Is the United States losing its linguistic cohesion? Why are Chinese tech words so inventive? Why does Icelandic have so many cool swearwords? Patrick Cox and Nina Porzucki bring you stories from the world’s linguistic frontlines. Also at pri.org/language

The World in Words is a podcast about languages and the people who speak them. What happens to the brain on bilingualism? Does it matter that so many languages are dying out? Should we fear the rise of global English? Is the United States losing its linguistic cohesion? Why are Chinese tech words so inventive? Why does Icelandic have so many cool swearwords? Patrick Cox and Nina Porzucki bring you stories from the world’s linguistic frontlines. Also at pri.org/language
More Information

Location:

Boston, MA

Networks:

PRI

Description:

The World in Words is a podcast about languages and the people who speak them. What happens to the brain on bilingualism? Does it matter that so many languages are dying out? Should we fear the rise of global English? Is the United States losing its linguistic cohesion? Why are Chinese tech words so inventive? Why does Icelandic have so many cool swearwords? Patrick Cox and Nina Porzucki bring you stories from the world’s linguistic frontlines. Also at pri.org/language

Twitter:

@pritheworld

Language:

English

Contact:

The World WGBH Educational Foundation One Guest Street Boston, MA 02135 617-300-5750


Episodes

The rules of bilingual love

2/13/2018
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He wrote to her mainly in Swedish, and she replied in Finnish. The correspondence of "Finlandia" composer Jean Sibelius and his wife Aino is funny and touching. And their letters are a goldmine for the study of code-switching.

Duration:00:23:13

Ivanka, meet Stalin

1/30/2018
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In which we hear from another Ivanka, another Stalin and another Lenin. Ivanka's brush with fame came thanks to Donald Trump's carelessness on Twitter. But Stalin and Lenin were purposely given their names, by parents in the Indian state of Kerala. Do they have a date with destiny?

Duration:00:28:25

Losing your accent

1/12/2018
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English is spoken with countless accents by both native and non-native speakers. But a hierarchy persists: there are 'good accents and 'bad' ones. So whether you're from Thailand or Tennessee, you may want to get rid of your accent. We hear from a few such people, and from someone who has no interest in changing his accent.

Duration:00:18:30

The words of 2017

12/20/2017
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What are the words and images that best describe this past year? And why do some people think "whom" is obsolete? We talk with Buzzfeed's copy chief Emmy Favilla and Cartoon Queen Carol Hills who monitors political cartoons from around the world.

Duration:00:26:00

My voice is my passport – verify me

12/13/2017
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Remember the 1990’s flick Sneakers with Robert Redford? Robert Redford’s character leads a group of hackers on a mission to steal a decoder from the NSA. And there’s a part in the film when Redford needs to bypass security to sneak into a building. Only problem, the security is a voice activated; at least in 1992 that might’ve been a problem. Today, if José Sotelo has anything to do with it, Redford’s crew need not worry about imitating a voice.. Sotelo co-founded a start-up called Lyrebird...

Duration:00:26:00

Welcome to the American family

11/29/2017
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US politicians have been using the word, 'assimilation' for more than a century. How has it evolved? What does it mean in Trump's America? And how is 'assimilation' understood differently in other countries like France? Nina enlists Rupa Shenoy, host of PRI's Otherhood podcast to try to figure it out, while Patrick seeks to banish the word, 'ex-pat.'

Duration:00:32:04

Speaking Yiddish to the dead

11/8/2017
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In 2000, American poet Jennifer Kronovet began taking Yiddish classes for just one reason: to translate Yiddish poetry into English.

Duration:00:29:04

Bash the Fash

10/25/2017
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"Antifa." The buzzword of the summer, especially after Charlottesville. Reporter Lidia Jean Kott explores how "antifa" came into being in 1930s Germany-- and how it was resurrected in 21st century America. WARNING: this episode has explicit language and content.

Duration:00:32:19

Dubbing with benefits

10/11/2017
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Dubbed TV and movies suck, right? Those odd-sounding voices and that lamely-synchronized dialogue? In Germany, it's not like that. Dubbing it a highly evolved craft, with actors who specialize in voiceover and writers who genuinely improve the dialogue. The pod goes to Berlin to find out why Germans are so good at (and so addicted to) dubbing.

Duration:00:28:31

How to speak like an aliebn

9/27/2017
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When Twitter comedian Jonny Sun began to write his book, "everyone's a aliebn when ur a aliebn too," he had to write down the rules of the cutesy grammar of the language he invented.

Duration:00:28:16

Who are the People?

9/18/2017
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Germans do not agree what the word 'Volk' means. Does it denote ethnic Germans or people who live in Germany? The Nazis racialized 'Volk' and its derivatives. Now Germany's New Right are reviving some of these terms.

Duration:00:35:03

Deciphering the Lingo of Pro-Trump Trolls

8/23/2017
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In the run up to the presidential election Cristina López kept coming across language on the internet that she didn’t quite understand; words and phrases like “meme magic,” and “red-pilled” and “nimble navigator.” These expressions kept popping up in Reddit and 4chan on Trump supporter message boards. “It felt like I was looking in to a group and I didn’t understand the group joke,” said Cristina. But understanding the group joke is Cristina’s job. She works for a non-profit called Media...

Duration:00:27:18

Zappa for Germans

8/9/2017
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Who was Frank Zappa? Virtuoso guitarist? Modernist composer? Smutty lyricist? Anti-censorship activist? All of the above....and in much more the former East Germany. There his banned records fetched small fortunes among rebellious young men who dreamed of freedom. We spend 30 minutes in the company of one such man who now runs a Zappa-themed festival. We also hear from an American translator who explains Zappa's obscure lyrics to German fans, line by line.

Duration:00:25:28

To Catch a Fortune Cookie Thief

7/24/2017
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This week on the podcast producer Lidia Jean Kott cracks open a case of fortune cookie theft. "Some men dream of fortunes. Others dream of cookies." This is a real fortune cookie fortune. A prescient fortune it would turn out for Yong Sik Lee. Lee invented the fully automatic fortune cookie machine and built a business on his invention. He sold fortune cookie machines and fortunes to companies all over the US. It was a good business, until one day somebody stole it all from him. Lidia Jean...

Grandmothers have the best curse words

7/12/2017
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This week on The World in Words we talk about swear words from around the world and the bad words our grandmothers teach us. We hear from swearologist Stephen Dodson and author Marilyn Chin. Plus, Nina Porzucki interviews her grandmother about the meaning of a Polish word.

Duration:00:28:09

'Dialect' versus 'language,' what's the big deal?!

6/27/2017
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This week on the podcast we step gingerly into scalding waters to explore the question: What is the difference between a language and dialect? Linguists hate to define it. “As a linguist I will not engage in trying to define language and trying to define dialect and I’m not alone in that,” said linguist Bojan Belić. He’s certainly not alone. We reached out to linguists and language experts and were met with sigh after sigh. There are many rubrics that people cite as indicators of a dialect...

Duration:00:39:37

Vladimir Trump

6/13/2017
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Many Russians perceive Donald Trump as an American version of Vladimir Putin. It's partly based on Trump's bombastic rhetoric, but also on how his speeches and tweets are translated into Russian.

Duration:00:22:34

Straight Outta Siberia

5/24/2017
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Linguist Edward Vajda went to Siberia with a hunch. He returned with evidence linking a remote Siberian language with Navajo.

Duration:00:15:19

Elena Ferrante & Italy's Linguistic Past

4/11/2017
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Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels have become a global hit. Their plot is rife with love and sex and the mob AND language. This week on the podcast we explore Italy's linguistic history and the tensions between Italian dialects like Neapolitan and the lingua franca. BONUS: Patrick Cox will sing for you in his best Italian accent.

Duration:00:30:43

Arabic's Jewish dialect

3/16/2017
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The Arab world used to be home to hundreds of thousands of Jews who spoke their own variants of Arabic. Today, Judeo-Arabic survives only in exile. We hear stories of language and exodus from three Judeo-Arabic speakers now living in Montreal. Plus, novelist Louie Cronin on satirizing linguistics.

Duration:00:23:01

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