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The World in Words

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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

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


An Iraqi writer in America

2/14/2017
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Mosul-born Anoud first came to the US when Obama was president. Now she doesn’t dare leave the country. Written in English, her satirical fiction targets ISIS, the international community and even refugees.

Duration: 00:21:46


A Kenyan language rises again

1/26/2017
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Ekegusii is spoken by about two million Kenyans but has been losing ground to Swahili and English. Now it is taught in some schools, thanks to local language activists assisted by American linguists.

Duration: 00:18:15


Translating Trump

1/19/2017
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Trump hotels, Trump wine, Trump golf courses, Trump steaks – we've heard a LOT about how Trump has made millions from his name. In English the word "trump" connotes a certain grandiosity but how does his name translate into other languages? And more importantly what do the translations say about how Trump is viewed in other countries, in other people's minds? This week on the podcast translating Trump. We’ll look at Trump’s name in three different languages: American Sign Language,...

Duration: 00:19:12


The first cousin of English

12/23/2016
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Are the 300,000+ Dutch people who speak Frisian stubborn? Maybe...and maybe that's not a bad thing. We head to the Netherlands to hear from artists, writers, politicians and kids at a trilingual school.

Duration: 00:33:25


What the Cuck?

12/14/2016
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WARNING: This podcast has explicit language and sexual content. This has been an election season of words: “bigly” or is it “big league,” “basket of deplorables” and you can’t forget “nasty.” But one word has recently caught a lot of people's attention: cuck. It’s a slur being used by white nationalists and white supremacists, the so-called "alt-right,” people like Richard Spencer, the president of the National Policy Institute. The deceptively generic sounding organization espouses white...

Duration: 00:33:59


The global rise of Swahili

11/22/2016
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Hakuna Matata. You may recognize this phrase. You may even find yourself humming the earworm-provoking song of the same title from Disney's the Lion King. "It means no worries" goes the lyric. But Disney fails to mention that "Hakuna matata" means "no worries" in Swahili. Swahili – known as Kiswahili in East Africa – has its roots in a small tribal Bantu language spoken along one strip of Africa's eastern coastline. But these days, it's spread across the African continent. Today its spoken...

Duration: 00:16:32


The Standing Rock Sioux's other fight

11/18/2016
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Standing Rock is more than a social movement for clean water rights. It's also where the Lakota language is re-inventing itself.

Duration: 00:34:07


'I'm Arab but I don't speak Arabic'

11/14/2016
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The language you would expect to hear in the United Arab Emirates is Arabic. Yet in a place like Dubai, English is the language on the streets, cafés and malls. Many Emiratis struggle in their own mother tongue. When oil was discovered in this mainly desert nation in the late 1950s, money and rapid development followed. An outside workforce poured into the country and a lot of them spoke English. So they communicated in English. At the same time, leaders in the UAE started to view English...

Duration: 00:23:53


How do you say 'cancer' in Mixtec?

11/9/2016
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Folks from Salinas, California like to remind you that their valley is the “Salad Bowl of the World.” Not that you can forget. When you drive around town, everywhere you look there’s fields growing lettuce, strawberries, and broccoli. A growing number of the farm workers picking the broccoli and lettuce from those fields speak neither English nor Spanish but several Native Mexican languages like Mixtec, Triqui, Zapotec. How are these farmworkers navigating life in California speaking their...

Duration: 00:27:49


Should we learn in two languages?

11/3/2016
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We know much more about bilingualism than we did 18 years ago when Californians voted to ban bilingual education. What does the research tell us? And will it effect Californians' upcoming re-vote on the issue?

Duration: 00:14:42

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