Language Rules

Language Rules


A podcast about the languages of the world and their speakers


LR006 Arabic  

Elie from Aïn Ikrine, Lebanon, is a native speaker of Lebanese, considers himself near-native in French, but does not feel as comfortable speaking Arabic. Yes, Lebanese is a dialect of Arabic - and yet it's quite a different language. We talk about French, Christians in Lebanon, diverse dialects, aggressive sounds, how to chat and write poetry in Arabic, roots and patterns, words and numbers, Lebanese christmas traditions, and giant metal Santa Clauses. Music: Meen – Min L Manjam 3al Marreekh (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) Jonathan Coulton – Chiron Beta Prime (CC BY-NC 3.0)

LR005 Turkish  

Özlem from Samsun, Turkey, is not only a native speaker of Turkish, but also deals with Turkish in her work as a researcher in the field of natural language processing. We talk about Istanbul, Turkish–German code-switching, agglutination, gatherings of ü and other vowels, non-existing houses, and the challenges of processing Turkish and other languages with computers. Sorry for the slightly shaky audio quality and background noises. Music: Can Kazaz – Hayat Böyle Demek ki (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

LR004b Icelandic (Part II)  

In this second episode about Icelandic, Björn demonstrates the various ways to inflect different types of Icelandic words, including names. We talk about certain gender issues, dogs biting men (or the other way around?), the evolution of case, the recycling and invention of words, Icelandic names, a bit of Icelandic politics, and Björn's connection to Björk. Music: Árstíðir – Himinhvel (CC BY-SA 3.0) Erratum: Whenever I use the words "female" or "male" in the context of grammatical gender, it should of course be "feminine" and "masculine".

LR004a Icelandic (Part I)  

Björn from Reykjavík, Iceland, has moved around in the Nordic countries quite a bit in his life. As a result, he speaks several languages fluently and is used to constantly switching back and forth between them. In contrast, his native language Icelandic managed to stay and evolve mainly in one place and without much contact to other languages for hundreds of years. In this episode, we talk about what it's like to be a Scandinavian polyglot, endless days and nights, ingenious Icelandic genealogy, the first people on Iceland, very old texts, and the correct pronounciation of a certain vulcano.

LR003 Swedish  

This episode's guest Anders comes from the very south of the very north of Europe, namely from Lund in Sweden. We talk about inter-Scandinavian communication, a (not so) Swedish Chef, what makes the Swedes "sing", the definite way to mark definiteness, the assimilation of loan words, the rise of a new pronoun, somewhat bizarre traditions, and why many Swedes don't pronounce Anders' first name correctly.

LR002b Esperanto (Part II)  

Welcome back to the second part of my interview with Johannes (a.k.a. "two Germans talking to each other in English about Esperanto"). We speak about fifteen of the sixteen rules of Esperanto, what makes Esperanto (more or less) easy to learn, (more or less) qualified criticism of Esperanto, dancing female communists, and which language to learn if Esperanto is just not nerdy enough for you.

LR002a Esperanto (Part I)  

How does a new language come into existence? Usually, it's a long and slow process in which one language is evolved from another collectively and overall unintentionally by a community of speakers. However, in the case of Esperanto, its grounds were laid by a single person named L. L. Zamenhof more than 125 years ago. Since then, Esperanto has turned into a living language thanks to its engaged speaker community. The native language of my guest Johannes is German, but Esperanto has become his everyday language that he uses to communicate not only with his flat mates but also with his many other friends from all over the world. In this episode, we talk about Johannes' fascination for Esperanto as a language and the associated subculture, Esperanto's ultimate killer application, why Volapük didn't become as successful, Esperanto native speakers, Esperanto's complicated family background, the problematic integration of chopsticks, and the general nerdiness of Mr. Zamenhof. Time goes so fast (and interviews get so long) when you're having fun, therefore the interview with Johannes is delivered in two parts.

LR001 Mandarin Chinese  

And so it begins ... In the first episode, Anett and her fearless guest Yi from Shanghai (China) go on an epic journey through the linguistic wilderness of (Mandarin) Chinese, always trying to stay away from the sun. Along the way, they encounter a special relative of Mandarin, meaningful stress, ten dead lions, missing spaces, Chinese face palms, certain aspects of aspect, entities of cute pandas, stacks of verbs, surprising Chinese inventions, unfortunate names and unfortunate false friends. On top of that, they search for Donald Duck's nephews and discuss why the Chinese government should clearly invest (more) in Natural Language Processing.

LR000 Hello World  

In this very first episode, Anett gives a brief introduction of herself and this podcast project and delivers some first fun facts about the diversity of the world's languages.

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