8 episodes

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 PRI

    • Documentary

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.

    Is a polyglot’s brain different?

    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.

    • 22 min
    Why Mormons are so good at languages

    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.

    • 22 min
    Gullah Geechee enters the academy

    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.

    • 21 min
    The language of diamonds

    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/

    • 15 min
    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.

    • 20 min
    Not so anonymous

    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.

    • 19 min

Customer Reviews

espana1955 ,

Fascinating

A very informative, interesting and well presented podcast! Looking forward to many more episodes. Thank you!

sandralee09 ,

So grateful...

As a linguist and a former missionary and current member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am thoroughly impressed and grateful for the fair, kind, and unbiased approach to the latest episode on missionaries and language learning. You did such a great job representing the average missionary’s experience when it comes to serving a mission and learning a new language. I’ve enjoyed listening to this podcast every so often, but this latest episode has “converted” me into a longtime listener ;) Thank you so much!

TyChristian ,

Very Impressed

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or Mormons, I have rarely been so impressed by the fairness that was afforded to the discussion around our faith and the tremendous effort and transformation of life and soul that goes into learning those languages on a mission, having learned three languages of my own on a two year mission. Thank you for your podcast, keep up the good work!

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