The World in Words 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
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/language

Most Recent Episodes

Is a polyglot's brain different?

Susanna Zaraysky, speaker of nine languages, is one of those people who seem able to pick up French or Portuguese almost overnight. In reality, it's not so effortless—but is she cognitively predisposed to attaining fluency in so many languages? We follow her to an MIT lab where researchers put her through a series of tests. Photo by Patrick Cox. Music by Silver Maple, Lucention, Pause For Concern, Podington Bear and Blue Dot Sessions.

Why Mormons are so good at languages

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 and Finland. Photo by Kavita Pillay. Music by Blue Dot Sessions, Booker and the Yeomans and Podington Bear.

Gullah Geechee enters the academy

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 — native speaker turned Harvard instructor — tells his story and the story of Gullah Geechee, a language that is as African as it is American. Music by Blue Dot Sessions, Podington Bear and Ranky Tanky. Photo courtesy Sunn M'Cheaux.

The language of diamonds

'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 to meet some of its most engaging characters as they struggle to come to terms with the new lexicon of diamonds. Music in this episode by Podington Bear and Blue Dot Sessions. Photo by Alina Simone. More at https://subtitlepod.com/

Words we love to hate

Words we love to hate

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, seeks answers from linguists who study this phenomenon. Music in the podcast by Podington Bear, Kikoru and Blue Dot Sessions. Photo by Sauli Pillay.

Not so anonymous

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 the Unabomber to the case of the Trump Administration's 'lodestar' insider. Music in the podcast by Podington Bear, Blue Dot Sessions and T. Morri. Photo by Marco Verch/Flickr Creative Commons.

Your next favorite podcast

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 them, starting in November 2019.

Coming soon: Subtitle

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; speakers of multiple languages; and just speakers—people like you and me.

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