The World in Words

The World in Words

Canada

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

Episodes

Straight Outta Siberia  

Linguist Edward Vajda went to Siberia with a hunch. He returned with evidence linking a remote Siberian language with Navajo.

In Moldova, speaking the wrong language once had serious consequences  

This week, The World in Words podcast visits the Moldova Authentic Restaurant in Newton, Massachusetts. Patrick Cox and Nina Porzucki talk with restaurant owners Artur and Sandra Andronic about their mother tongue. Also, what happens if you put a group of monolingual speakers of different languages on a deserted island? Linguist Derek Bickerton was determined to find out.

The words that divide Indian-Americans  

Sonia Paul grew up California, the child of immigrants from India and the Philippines. No wonder she's fascinated by the heated debates among Indian-Americans over how school textbooks characterize Hinduism and caste.

Elena Ferrante & Italy's Linguistic Past  

Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels have become a global hit. Their plot is rife with love and sex and the mob AND language. This week on the podcast we explore Italy's linguistic history and the tensions between Italian dialects like Neapolitan and the lingua franca. BONUS: Patrick Cox will sing for you in his best Italian accent.

How Christianese became a thing  

Have you attended any “Matthew parties” lately? Or ever felt “too blessed to be stressed, too anointed to be disappointed”? If the answer is yes, you speak Christianese, a "religiolect" that linguists have recently started tracking.

Arabic's Jewish dialect  

The Arab world used to be home to hundreds of thousands of Jews who spoke their own variants of Arabic. Today, Judeo-Arabic survives only in exile. We hear stories of language and exodus from three Judeo-Arabic speakers now living in Montreal. Plus, novelist Louie Cronin on satirizing linguistics.

'Black' is a French word too  

Many French people favor the English word 'black' over the local equivalent 'noir.' Why? There's a history behind it that dates back decades— in fact, two histories: the French version seeks to be colorblind while the American one recognizes race at every turn.

An Iraqi writer in America  

Mosul-born Anoud first came to the US when Obama was president. Now she doesn’t dare leave the country. Written in English, her satirical fiction targets ISIS, the international community and even refugees.

A Kenyan language rises again  

Ekegusii is spoken by about two million Kenyans but has been losing ground to Swahili and English. Now it is taught in some schools, thanks to local language activists assisted by American linguists.

Translating Trump  

Trump hotels, Trump wine, Trump golf courses, Trump steaks – we've heard a LOT about how Trump has made millions from his name. In English the word "trump" connotes a certain grandiosity but how does his name translate into other languages? And more importantly what do the translations say about how Trump is viewed in other countries, in other people's minds? This week on the podcast translating Trump. We’ll look at Trump’s name in three different languages: American Sign Language, Mandarin, and Russian. And we enlist the expertise of several Davids and one Jami: Chinese linguist David Moser, The Washington Post's Moscow Bureau Chief David Filipov, Princeton Professor of French language and literature David Bellos, and American Sign Language Coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania, Jami Fisher.

The first cousin of English  

Are the 300,000+ Dutch people who speak Frisian stubborn? Maybe...and maybe that's not a bad thing. We head to the Netherlands to hear from artists, writers, politicians and kids at a trilingual school.

The first cousin of English  

Are the 300,000+ Dutch people who speak Frisian stubborn? Maybe...and maybe that's not a bad thing. We head to the Netherlands to hear from artists, writers, politicians and kids at a trilingual school.

What the Cuck?  

WARNING: This podcast has explicit language and sexual content. This has been an election season of words: “bigly” or is it “big league,” “basket of deplorables” and you can’t forget “nasty.” But one word has recently caught a lot of people's attention: cuck. It’s a slur being used by white nationalists and white supremacists, the so-called "alt-right,” people like Richard Spencer, the president of the National Policy Institute. The deceptively generic sounding organization espouses white nationalist ideology. During their conference held in Washington DC right after the US election, Spencer made headlines by using the phrase “Hail Trump” in his speech. In the same speech he also used the word “cuck.” But long before white nationalist grabbed hold of cuck, the word, which has roots in the ancient insult “cuckold” took some interesting turns in its modern usage. On the podcast this week we focus on the word "cuck." What does it mean? Who uses it? And how did it become the slur of choice for white nationalists? We'll hear from and linguist Michael Adams, sex columnist Dan Savage, and white nationalist Richard Spencer.

What the Cuck?  

WARNING: This podcast has explicit language and sexual content. This has been an election season of words: “bigly” or is it “big league,” “basket of deplorables” and you can’t forget “nasty.” But one word has recently caught a lot of people's attention: cuck. It’s a slur being used by white nationalists and white supremacists, the so-called "alt-right,” people like Richard Spencer, the president of the National Policy Institute. The deceptively generic sounding organization espouses white nationalist ideology. During their conference held in Washington DC right after the US election, Spencer made headlines by using the phrase “Hail Trump” in his speech. In the same speech he also used the word “cuck.” But long before white nationalist grabbed hold of cuck, the word, which has roots in the ancient insult “cuckold” took some interesting turns in its modern usage. On the podcast this week we focus on the word "cuck." What does it mean? Who uses it? And how did it become the slur of choice for white nationalists? We'll hear from and linguist Michael Adams, sex columnist Dan Savage, and white nationalist Richard Spencer.

The global rise of Swahili  

Hakuna Matata. You may recognize this phrase. You may even find yourself humming the earworm-provoking song of the same title from Disney's the Lion King. "It means no worries" goes the lyric. But Disney fails to mention that "Hakuna matata" means "no worries" in Swahili. Swahili – known as Kiswahili in East Africa – has its roots in a small tribal Bantu language spoken along one strip of Africa's eastern coastline. But these days, it's spread across the African continent. Today its spoken by more than 100 million people. More people speak Swahili than Korean or Italian.This week reporter Daniel A. Gross investigates how Swahili became a prominent language on the African continent and increasingly around the globe.

The global rise of Swahili  

Hakuna Matata. You may recognize this phrase. You may even find yourself humming the earworm-provoking song of the same title from Disney's the Lion King. "It means no worries" goes the lyric. But Disney fails to mention that "Hakuna matata" means "no worries" in Swahili. Swahili – known as Kiswahili in East Africa – has its roots in a small tribal Bantu language spoken along one strip of Africa's eastern coastline. But these days, it's spread across the African continent. Today its spoken by more than 100 million people. More people speak Swahili than Korean or Italian.This week reporter Daniel A. Gross investigates how Swahili became a prominent language on the African continent and increasingly around the globe.

The Standing Rock Sioux's other fight  

Standing Rock is more than a social movement for clean water rights. It's also where the Lakota language is re-inventing itself.

The Standing Rock Sioux's other fight  

Standing Rock is more than a social movement for clean water rights. It's also where the Lakota language is re-inventing itself.

'I'm Arab but I don't speak Arabic'  

The language you would expect to hear in the United Arab Emirates is Arabic. Yet in a place like Dubai, English is the language on the streets, cafés and malls. Many Emiratis struggle in their own mother tongue. When oil was discovered in this mainly desert nation in the late 1950s, money and rapid development followed. An outside workforce poured into the country and a lot of them spoke English. So they communicated in English. At the same time, leaders in the UAE started to view English as the language of future. English entered the schools and classrooms. Slowly English became the lingua franca in the UAE. Arabic, meanwhile, slipped. This week on the podcast, reporter Shirin Jaafari heads to the UAE where she investigates what happened to Arabic in this Arab nation.

'I'm Arab but I don't speak Arabic'  

The language you would expect to hear in the United Arab Emirates is Arabic. Yet in a place like Dubai, English is the language on the streets, cafés and malls. Many Emiratis struggle in their own mother tongue. When oil was discovered in this mainly desert nation in the late 1950s, money and rapid development followed. An outside workforce poured into the country and a lot of them spoke English. So they communicated in English. At the same time, leaders in the UAE started to view English as the language of future. English entered the schools and classrooms. Slowly English became the lingua franca in the UAE. Arabic, meanwhile, slipped. This week on the podcast, reporter Shirin Jaafari heads to the UAE where she investigates what happened to Arabic in this Arab nation.

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