The World in Words

by PRI · · · · 15 subscribers

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

Could Neanderthals talk? Feb. 21, 2018

Humans are the only creatures on Earth that can choke on their own food. Yes, that’s right. Because we have funky plumbing. There’s a crucial split in our throats – one path that leads to the esophagus and the stomach, and another that leads to our larynx, or voice box. Why would humans have evolved such potentially fatal architecture? Some experts say the reason is speech, suggesting speech might pre-date Homo sapiens, going back to Neanderthals, or even Homo erectus, our likely ancestors from millions of years ago. This is all theoretical of course. There are no million-year-old recordings. But ...

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Tags: language, society & culture, global, pri, foreign, radio, words, news, international, patrick cox, public, npr

Older Episodes

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.
Ivanka, meet Stalin Jan. 30, 2018
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?
Losing your accent Jan. 12, 2018
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 ...
The words of 2017 Dec. 20, 2017
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 And why do some people think "whom" is obsolete?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.
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 ...
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 ...
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, ...
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, ...
In 2000, American poet Jennifer Kronovet began taking Yiddish classes for just one reason: to translate Yiddish poetry into English.
In 2000, American poet Jennifer Kronovet began taking Yiddish classes for just one reason: to translate Yiddish poetry into English.
Bash the Fash Oct. 25, 2017
"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.
Bash the Fash Oct. 25, 2017
"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.
Dubbing with benefits Oct. 11, 2017
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 ...
Dubbing with benefits Oct. 11, 2017
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 ...
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.
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.
Who are the People? Sept. 18, 2017
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.
Who are the People? Sept. 18, 2017
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.
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 ...