Subtitle

by Quiet Juice · · · · 15 subscribers

Language unites and divides us. It mystifies and delights us. Patrick Cox and Kavita Pillay tell the stories of people with all kinds of linguistic passions: comedians, writers, researchers; speakers of endangered languages; speakers of multiple languages; and just speakers—people like you and me.

We are how we speak, right? Well, it's complicated— enough so to spend Subtitle's next four episodes on this question. We'll tell the stories of a diverse collection of people, tracing how each came to speak the way they do. Along the way, we'll ask: Is speech a good barometer of identity? Does anyone truly speak […]

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

Older Episodes

The birth of a language June 24, 2020
In 1986, Nicaraguan officials invited American linguist Judy Shepard-Kegl to observe a group of Deaf children. The kids were using an unrecognizable signing system. Over the following years, Shepard-Kegl and other linguists found themselves uniquely plac
Finland has been named the happiest country in the world. So why is sisu the word that best describes Finns? Associated with war and endurance, sisu means stoic perseverance against almost insurmountable odds. But this small, cold nat
In unsettled times, we reach for metaphors. They help us make sense of the nonsensical—or at least that's what we tell ourselves. In this episode, we hear from linguist Elena Semino, editor of a crowd-sourced publication called the Metaphor Menu in
Joe Wong is a brilliant bilingual comedian. In the US, he does standup. In his native China he hosts a popular TV game show. Recently his comedy has become more political: he is confronting US racial tensions head-on. In quarantine, Joe is writing a book
Bilingual comedian Joanna Hausmann (pictured with her mother Ana Julia Jatar- Hausmann) is sitting out the lockdown at her Venezuelan parents' New England home. She tells us of her love of outdated Venezuelan slang; also about parenting her parents
At war, and not at war April 15, 2020
In this episode, we talk with American medical student Esther Kim (pictured). She's trying to overcome her suspicion of people with a particular accent, one that she's come to associate with racist taunts. The COVID-19 wave of anti- Asian hara
We can't travel. We can't hug or visit loved ones. But we can talk our way through this pandemic — and we're doing just that, in most of the world's languages. In this episode we hear from Kavita Pillay's mother, who tells a
Going Dutch March 18, 2020
Hassnae Bouazza was born in Morocco. She didn't speak a word of Dutch when she immigrated to the Netherlands, though today it's effectively her mother tongue. The Dutch government now insists that would-be immigrants like Bouazza pass a Dutch
If there are extraterrestrials out there, what kind of messages might they be sending us? How might we decipher those messages? And should we hit reply? Image by Mike Licht via Flickr Creative Commons. Music by Million Eyes, From Now On, Heath Cantu, Chr
Stereotypes about Mormon missionaries tend to overshadow their great success in foreign language learning. Why is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints so skilled at teaching languages? We hear from missionaries, teachers and scholars, in Utah
There's a new language class on offer at Harvard. Gullah Geechee is a creole language developed by enslaved Africans and still spoken today. As far as anyone knows, it's the first time it's been taught anywhere. Sunn M'Cheaux — na
'Real’ or ’synthetic’? 'Authentic' or ‘lab-grown’? 'Bloodstained' or ‘green’? The highly-regulated words that describe diamonds define their narrative — and maybe even their value. We take you to New York’s Diamond District
Words we love to hate Nov. 20, 2019
Are you repelled by certain words? Do you get that fingernails-on-chalkboard feeling when someone says 'moist,' 'dollop' or 'fascia'? In this week's episode Kavita Pillay, who has some word aversions of her own,
Not so anonymous Nov. 6, 2019
Want to say or write something anonymously? Or pretend you're someone else? Good luck. Linguists are using evermore sophisticated means to figure out who you really are. In this episode we trace the rise of forensic linguistics, from identifying th
Coming up in the first season of Subtitle with Patrick Cox and Kavita Pillay: Words we love and hate. Words that solve crimes. Words we lose and find. Words that resist translation. Subtitle brings you stories about languages and the people who speak the
Coming soon: Subtitle Oct. 7, 2019
Ever wondered why language simultaneously unites and divides us? Mystifies and delights us? Patrick Cox and Kavita Pillay tell the stories of people with all kinds of linguistic passions: comedians, writers, researchers; speakers of endangered languages;
In the West, we are used to sci-fi written by English-speakers who dream up English-speaking utopias and dystopias. Often in the final reel, humanity is saved by English-speaking heroes. So what should we expect from China's newly- thriving sci-fi scene? Does it have its own hopes and fears, specific to …
When American Lynne Murphy says 'sure' to her British husband, he thinks she means 'not really.' After 18 years together, they still disagree-- and not just on 'sure.'
Poetry thieves Sept. 5, 2018
Some people see British poet Ira Lightman as a champion of poets whose verses he valiantly defends. Others view him as a blowhard who delights in ruining other people's reputations. Either way, the story of his poetry sleuthing might make you think differently about what exactly plagiarism is.