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Society & Culture

The World in Words

Updated 7 days ago

Society & Culture
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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

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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

iTunes Ratings

582 Ratings
Average Ratings
527
31
12
5
7

Whoa. I mean whoa. Egy jól pod.

By Anotherchessaddict - Jun 26 2019
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This is soo good. Patrick and Nina I miss you. Where did you go? -Dave B

So much fun

By arielthecat - Jan 22 2019
Read more
For language nerds this is lovely, good depth

iTunes Ratings

582 Ratings
Average Ratings
527
31
12
5
7

Whoa. I mean whoa. Egy jól pod.

By Anotherchessaddict - Jun 26 2019
Read more
This is soo good. Patrick and Nina I miss you. Where did you go? -Dave B

So much fun

By arielthecat - Jan 22 2019
Read more
For language nerds this is lovely, good depth

Listen to:

Cover image of The World in Words

The World in Words

Updated 7 days ago

Read more

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

Rank #1: Losing your accent

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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.

Jan 12 2018

18mins

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Rank #2: If you could talk to the animals

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Do you talk to your dog? Does your dog talk back to you? Dr. Doolittle’s dream of talking to the animals is one many of us can share. But what do all of those howls and growls mean and is it really language? This week on the podcast NOVA’s Ari Daniel joins us to explore the communication patterns of three different species: Túngara frogs, Humpback whales and Diana monkeys. And if you listen and still want more...continue to nerd out with NOVA. They're going deep this month with a new program, "NOVA Wonders: What Are Animals Saying?" www.pbs.org/novawonders

Apr 25 2018

28mins

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Rank #3: How has Basque survived?

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Basque is a language isolate. Spoken in a region that spans northern Spain across the border into southern France, it is not part of the Indo-European language family. It’s not related to Spanish or French or German or Greek or any known language. The origins of the language are a bit of mystery. In fact you can almost hear the history of the European continent in the language according to Basque language scholar Xabier Irujo.

“The Basque language has words coming from all languages that have been in Europe since prehistory from Latin and Celtic languages, and probably from languages before these Celtic languages. Who knows what was spoken in Europe at the time.”

This week on the podcast we talk about this mysterious language. How did it survive the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco when writing and speaking were illegal? How has this minority language thrived and even grown in the years since Franco’s dictatorship ended? And what’s the future hold for the language?

May 31 2018

34mins

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Rank #4: Could Neanderthals talk?

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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 some of these ideas are gaining steam. This week on the podcast, reporter Ari Daniel from our partner program NOVA explores several theories about where language comes from.

Feb 21 2018

23mins

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Rank #5: The Story of 'X'

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From X-rated to Gen X to Latinx, the meaning of 'X' has shifted while retaining an edgy, transgressive quality. We trace the meandering semantic route of 'X' through the 20th and 21st centuries, with help from Afro-Latinx writer Jack Qu'emi, retired linguistics professor Ron Smyth and film historian Adrian Smith.

Apr 03 2018

26mins

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Rank #6: The words of 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.

Dec 20 2017

26mins

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Rank #7: Your brain on improv

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Ever wondered about people who can improvise on stage? How the words seem to come so easily? Neuroscientist Charles Limb and comedian Anthony Veneziale did. First came the bromance, then Veneziale found himself improvising inside an fMRI machine.

May 24 2018

22mins

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Rank #8: The rules of bilingual love

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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.

Feb 13 2018

23mins

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Rank #9: The three-letter-word that rocked a nation

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In 2012, a little known Swedish press published a children’s book that sparked a nationwide debate. The debate wasn’t about the plot of the book, nor the pictures, but concerned a three-letter word used by the main character of the story. That word was the relatively new, gender neutral pronoun “hen.” Traditionally, Swedish does not have a gender neutral pronoun for people. "Hen" tapped into an ongoing conversation in the country was already having about gender and equality.This week on the podcast we go to Sweden and examine whether gender neutral language can help shape shift societal views on gender equality.

This is part of a series on language and gender in collaboration with the Across Women's Lives project. For more stories on language and gender around the globe head to: www.pri.org/acrosswomenslives.

Thanks to engineer Tina Tobey and Nathalie Rothschild for help on the podcast.

Mar 27 2018

29mins

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Rank #10: My language is my home

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Lea is a teenager born and raised in Japan. Her mother is Chinese, her father American. She speaks English, Mandarin and Japanese but isn’t sure which of them is her mother tongue. Karolina lives in Boston but grew up in several countries and speaks a bunch of languages. Her English is perfect but she doesn’t feel completely at home in it, or in American culture. Welcome to the world of third culture kids, a fast-growing group of people who fit in everywhere and nowhere.

May 17 2018

21mins

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