The World in Words

The World in Words

From PRI

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/languageMore from The World in Words »

Most Recent Episodes

Eddie Izzard will make you laugh in four languages

This week on the World in Words: Comedian Eddie Izzard. Eddie Izzard has often joked about language from the silliness of Latin to why English speakers are so stubbornly monolingual. However, in late '90's, Eddie decided that it wasn't enough to joke about language; he wanted to joke in other languages. So in 1997 he took the stage and did his first set in France in French. It wasn't funny, he admits, but it was the start of a career goal to do stand-up in as many languages as possible. Eventually he did feel funny (and fluent) in French. Now, nearly two decades after that first French show, he has toured in not only French but German and Spanish. He intends to learn Russian and Arabic next. This week The World in Words sat down with Izzard to find out why he's decided to take his humor around the globe and how he's managed to learn all these languages.

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A death in the family

Bradley Campbell goes home to Dallas, Oregon, to find out why his Honduran-born father decided to "kill" Spanish a couple of years before Bradley was born.

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Moroccan-French Comic Gad Elmaleh Leaves Fame and French Behind

Two years ago the Moroccan-French Comedian Gad Elmaleh had a dream to do 10-minutes of stand-up in English for an American audience. Elmaleh is a pretty big name in France. He can fill enormous arenas. But he left notoriety behind in France and came to the US. And for the last year he's been traveling across the US and performing in small comedy clubs honing his English routine. Elmaleh stopped by the studio on his way through Boston to talk about this English language learning adventure.

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Raising the Dead

Among the mansions and golf clubs of the Hamptons, Shinnecock Indians are trying to re-learn their language which died out more than a century ago. Plus, David Bowie and the word, "They".

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The quest to create the first dumpling emoji

Emoji is a Japanese term for the cute little symbols you can text and tweet from your phone and PC. There are emojis for pizza and taco and apple but recently writer Jennifer 8 Lee discovered that there is no official dumpling emoji. Dumplings are one of the world's most ubiquitous foods, why dumpling emoji? Lee decided to change that and she found herself in a boardroom in Silicon Valley meeting with the Unicode Consortium. The World in Words talks Lee about her quest to create the first official dumpling emoji and about the mysterious Unicode Consortium, the entity that encodes emoji and makes them "official."

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Laughing in Multiple Languages

To close out 2015 the World in Words wanted to leave you smiling. Here's one of our favorite interviews with Canadian comedian Sugar Sammy.

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Koreans love American English

In South Korea, mastery of American English is a status symbol. Families send their kids to academies chosen for their American instructors. We hear from an English teacher from Ireland who was told by a Korean recruiter, "You don't speak English."

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Mysteries

There are mysteries aplenty in David Bowie's song lyrics, Jennifer Tseng's story of love and Noam Chomsky's theory about language. But do we really need to solve these mysteries?

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Signing with a Philly accent

Cheesesteaks, Peanut Chews, Tasty Cakes, oh yeah, the Liberty Bell – there's so much to love about Philadelphia but one of the best things about the city of Brotherly Love is the accent. This week on the podcast we learn about the Philadelphia accent in American Sign Language. What is an accent in ASL? ASL speaker and researcher Jami Fisher explains it all. She is part of the team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania who is working on the study to document this "weird" as she calls it way of signing. Plus, we hear from the actors of the Broadway musical, "Spring Awakening." This new production features 8 deaf actors. John Hockenberry from our friends at The Takeaway got the chance to interview some of the actors.

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A tale of two linguists

Israeli linguist Arik Sadan is an authority on the Arabic language. Palestinian Sobhi Bahloul is Gaza's best-known Hebrew teacher. The two have never met.

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