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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


Malorie Blackman on Language

Malorie Blackman, author of Noughts and Crosses, talks in depth to Michael Rosen about language: the writing that has shaped her and how she's used language in her own influential work. Her lifelong love of reading was fostered by the libraries she went to as a child. If she had to choose between being a reader and being a writer, she says, she'd choose being a reader.. Producer Beth O'Dea.

Duration: 00:27:52

Eat My Words: How to Describe Food Flavours

Michael Rosen and Laura Wright ask Great British Menu judge Andi Oliver and author of The Flavour Thesaurus Niki Segnit how they describe the flavours of food. Niki describes coriander and lime as "the wooh woohs in 'Sympathy for the Devil' - completely and utterly indispensable". But grapefruit, on the other hand, is "standoffish".. She brings a cheese and a mystery item into the studio for Michael and Laura to taste and then try to put into words. Simile and metaphor, comparision,...

Duration: 00:27:53

David Walliams Special

David Walliams talks in depth to Michael Rosen about how he writes his children's books like Mr Stink and The Boy In The Dress and how he switches modes to write comedy like Little Britain. His acute awareness of language developed from a young age, and he was influenced by the books he read then, from Roald Dahl to James Bond, and the comedy scripts he studied, from Monty Python and Rowan Atkinson. He talks about the real-life conversation that inspired Carol Beer, the "computer says no"...

Duration: 00:27:57

Game On: The Language of Video Games

With 99% of 8-15 year olds playing video games, Michael Rosen & Dr Laura Wright explore how gaming is influencing language and storytelling. From terms like 'epic fail' and 'levelling up' entering education and politics to sophisticated developments in interactive storytelling taking on the cinema and film industry. Narrative paramedic, Rhianna Pratchett and Associate Professor in Games Research, Esther MacCallum Stewart guide us through the world and language of gamers. There will be...

Duration: 00:27:45

The Postbag Edition

Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright answer listeners' questions from the Word of Mouth inbox and postbag. They're joined by guests, Katherine Fry and Rowena Kirton, authors of the book 'Grammar for Grown-Ups' to talk about everything from your grammar gripes to queries about why everyone seems to be using or abusing the word ''literally' lately. Producer: Sarah Addezio.

Duration: 00:27:38

Cucks, snowflakes and virtue signalling: the new US political lexicon

Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright interview the eminent US linguist George Lakoff about the new political words coming out of the US right now, mainly from the alt-right, and the effectiveness of Trump's use of language. George Lakoff is the former Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. His thesis is that people's lives are significantly influenced by the central metaphors they use, whatever their political beliefs, and...

Duration: 00:27:15

Jacqueline Wilson talks to Michael Rosen about language

Writer Jacqueline Wilson talks to Michael Rosen about her love of language and how she came up with the idea of Tracy Beaker. She describes her imaginative life as a child, walking along telling stories to herself under her breath, fascinated by words. She can trace her interest in writing real and believable children to the books that she loved as a child, from Little Women to Lolita.. Producer Beth O'Dea.

Duration: 00:28:04

How Countries Got Their Names

Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright find out how countries - including this one - got their names, and what they mean. Why isn't Greenland green? How is Venezuela like a Little Venice? And what's the only state in the world named after a woman? With Professor Richard Coates. Producer Beth O'Dea.

Duration: 00:27:08

Frenchified: The Influence of French on English

Michael Rosen & Dr Laura Wright find out how much of our language comes from French roots, from Anglo-Norman onwards. A Sunday lunch menu from The Ritz is food for thought, and Dr Richard Ashdowne explains the surprising history behind many words we think of as English, with the help of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Producer Beth O'Dea.

Duration: 00:26:51

Like, Totally Awesome: The Americanisation of English

Michael Rosen is joined by writer Matthew Engel and linguist Dr Lynne Murphy to discuss the Americanisation of English. Is the pace of Americanisation of British English really increasing? Why do Americans say eggplant and sidewalk, rather than aubergine and pavement? Why does your spellchecker insist it's 'color' not 'colour'? Do Americans complain about the 'Britishisms' creeping into use in the States as much as we complain about Americanisms in use in the UK? Does it really matter if...

Duration: 00:27:49

Emoji: The Future of Language?

Is emoji really the world's fastest growing language? (And can it really be said to be a language at all?) Who gets to decide which pictograms get added to the official set of emoji? Do they clarify the meaning of written language or are they dangerously open to misinterpretation? And why did the aubergine emoji get banned from some social media platforms? Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright are joined by Professor Vyv Evans to talk all things emoji. Producer: Mair Bosworth.

Duration: 00:27:48

Intonation: The Music of Speaking

Michael Rosen and Laura Wright explore the tunes we sing when we are speaking - without even realising it. Sound artist John Wynne extracts the melodies to play in the studio and Sam Hellmuth explains what we use intonation for. Producer Beth O'Dea.

Duration: 00:27:53

Pet or Pest? The revealing words we use about animals, and dog names

Michael Rosen and Laura Wright on the language we use to talk about animals - and the names we give our dogs. Do the words used show changing attitudes? They're joined by Professor Alison Sealey, linguist at Lancaster University and co-investigator on a new study: People, Products, Pests and Pets: The Discursive Representation of Animals. Producer Beth O'Dea.

Duration: 00:27:32

Words Roadshow in Birmingham

Michael Rosen and linguist Esther Asprey answer questions about interesting local and family words from listeners at a Words Roadshow at the Birmingham Literature Festival. What's a gubbins? What is your dander, when it's up? And what could it be that you're doing if you do a flink-a-flonk... Recorded at BBC Birmingham. Producer Beth O'Dea.

Duration: 00:27:21

Susie Dent on Language

Michael Rosen and Laura Wright talk to Susie Dent, lexicographer and word lover known for her expert contribution to Countdown and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. She has been uncovering the secret language tribes of Britain: the words used only between themselves by groups like publicans, binmen and builders..what on earth is "disco rice"? Producer Beth O'Dea.

Duration: 00:27:37

Reading: The Science and the Pleasure

As part of the BBC LovetoRead campaign, Michael Rosen talks about his first experience in reading, with Dr Laura Wright, and how and what he reads now. They're joined by cognitive psychologist Professor Kathy Rastle to explain the amazing process by which we read, and to find out how fast the average reader reads, and how many words they know.. Producer Beth O'Dea.

Duration: 00:27:35

Snotrils and Jumpolines: Kids' Invented Words

Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright explore the words that children invent and reimagine, from snotrils and jumpolines, to Farmer Christmas and the hippyhoppymus. What do these linguistic leaps of imagination tell us about how children learn language? With writer Nicola Skinner and linguist Dr Kriszta Szendroi, who explains what's going on in the brain when children reach for the right word. Producer: Mair Bosworth The research study on 'logs-key' referred to in this program is the work of...

Duration: 00:27:48

Small Talk

Pointless chit chat or vital social lubricant? Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright talk small talk with psychotherapist and writer Philippa Perry, author of 'How to Stay Sane'. Why do we bother with small talk? What are the rules of banter? And what are we really talking about when we talk about the weather? Producer: Mair Bosworth.

Duration: 00:27:47

Directions: North South East and West

Michael Rosen & Laura Wright discover how different ways of talking about directions in other languages show differences in ways of thinking. Professor Lera Boroditsky explains how in some languages, you might be asked to move your chair a bit to the north, or to put the socks in the east drawer... And the past may be conceived of as in front of you, rather than behind. How do the languages we speak shape the ways we think? Producer Beth O'Dea.

Duration: 00:27:57

Lost Words and Secret Connections

Have you ever wondered why there's no word for that universal affliction of early morning worry & wakefulness? Or how to describe the act of eking every last drop of washing up liquid out of the bottle? Mark Forsyth, author of The Etymologicon, takes Michael Rosen and linguist Dr Laura Wright on a lexical expedition into what he calls the 'sewer system' of the English language- where words lie lost, forgotten or banished- until now. Producer Kirsty McQuire.

Duration: 00:27:42

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