Language unites and divides us. It 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.
Subtitle is delighted to share an episode of Exile, a podcast about Jewish lives under the shadow of fascism. In this episode, Florence Mendheim, a young Jewish librarian in New York, risks her life to spy on the growing Nazi movement in America. Adopting a fake German persona, she attends American Nazi rallies and works in their headquarters. Everything is on the line to try to halt hate in its tracks. More on Florence Mendheim here. Listen to more Exile episodes here. Exile is a production of the Leo Baeck Institute, NY and Antica Productions.
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The precious secrets of Udi
Never heard of the Udi language? Get ready to be beguiled by this poster child for endangered languages. The history of the Udi people and their language includes an ancient kingdom, an exodus to escape persecution, and the creation of a bespoke alphabet. Udi also has a unique grammatical feature, a form of linguistic behavior that scholars previously thought was impossible. No wonder the small Udi-speaking community of Zinobiani in the Republic of Georgia attracts visitors from around the world , including Subtitle's Patrick Cox.
Music in this episode by Howard Harper-Barnes, Christian Andersen, Rand Aldo, Farrell Wooten, Leimoti, and Stonekeepers.
The photo shows linguist Thomas Wier and Udi activist Alexander Kavtaradze at a memorial of Kavtaradze's great great uncle, Zinobi Silikashvili, founder of Zinobiani. For more photos and a transcript of the episode, go here.
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The future sound of Black English
If you want to know where African American English is headed, listen to Shondel Nero. Shondel was born in the Caribbean nation of Guyana where she code-switched between Guyana Creolese and colonial British English. As a young adult she moved to North America, eventually settling in New York City where she became a professor of language education at NYU. Shondel tells guest host Ciku Theuri that the various versions of English spoken by Black immigrants are rubbing off on Black American speech. Aided by the likes of TikTok, African American English is now going through a period of rapid change.
Music in this episode by HATAMITSUNAMI, Matt Large, Rocket Jr., and Osoku. More about Shondel Nero here. The photo of Shondel was taken at Kaieteur Falls, the world’s largest single drop waterfall located deep in the rainforest of her native Guyana.
Read a transcript of the episode here. And sign up for Subtitle's newsletter here.
How music has shaped African American speech
Guest host Ciku Theuri speaks with music writer Jordannah Elizabeth about the intimate relationship between music and Black American speech. That connection was never closer than in the 1930s and 40s when Cab Calloway's Hepster Dictionary and Sister Rosetta Tharpe's groundbreaking rock 'n' roll established new artistic and linguistic pathways. This is the second of our three-part series on African American English.
Jordannah Elizabeth is the founder of the Feminist Jazz Review and author of the upcoming A Child’s Introduction to Hip Hop.
Music excerpts in this episode by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Cab Calloway and His Orchestra, The Ink Spots, Roscoe Dash, Gucci Mane, Tems, Nbhd Nick and Sarah, the Illstrumentalist. Photo of Bill Robinson, Lena Horne and Cab Calloway from the 1943 musical film, Stormy Weather, via Wikimedia Commons. Read a transcript of the episode here.
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Where did African American English come from?
Are the roots of African American English mainly African? Or English? Or something else? Linguists—and others—don't agree. Ciku Theuri guides us through the theories. Opinions from Nicole Holliday, John McWhorter, John Rickford and Sunn m'Cheaux, who we also profiled in a previous Subtitle episode.
Music in this episode by A P O L L O, Jobii, and Tilden Parc. Photo of Michelle Obama by Pete Souza via Wikimedia Commons. Read a transcript of the episode here.
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A brief history of death threats
Until recently, issuing a death threat required some effort. Today, anyone with a phone or computer can make a threat—or receive one. The result is a “golden age” for the dark realm of personal threats.
Forensic linguist Tanya Karoli Christensen and forensic psychologist Lisa Warren help us trace the history of death threats from eloquently penned letters to casually written social media posts. As the platforms for making threats are changing, so too are the methods for assessing their potency.
Music in this episode by Magnus Ringblom, 91nova, Fabien Tell, BLUE STEEL, Peter Sandberg, Amaranth Cove and Andreas Boldt. Illustration by James Gillray (1756-1815) via Wikimedia Commons.
Read a transcript of this episode here. Subscribe to Subtitle’s newsletter here.
Language Lover’s Dream
This podcast is everything I could ask for and more in its thoughtful, well-researched, thoroughly informative and lively presentation of words, languages and linguistics. Had not listened for awhile and the “edible intrigue” episode reminded me how fun and amazing these podcasts are. Love all the things that are woven into the stories, like interview snippets, songs and other sound effects, as they keep the stories moving. Definitely nourishment for my brain and my passion for languages and deeper meaning of words. Thank you!
I love all the learning I gain from the various topics. I wish I was a linguist or could speak more than just English. :-(
Great podcast it’s very enjoyable to listen and learn.
Various topics having to do with language, and always interesting with a new way of looking at the world.