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12 EpisodesProduced by Quiet JuiceWebsite

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.

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Learning to love apostrophes

July 6th, 2022

26:47

Ellen Jovin belongs that rare breed of human with a passion for grammar. You will too if you spend a few minutes with her, your grammar anxiety melting away in minutes. That's what happens when apostrophe-challenged …

Hello, Goodbye

June 22nd, 2022

35:59

Steve Jobs' last words were: "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow." Oscar Wilde went with: "Either that wallpaper goes, or I do." (At least, that's how the story goes.) But the way most of us part company with language at the end of …

How the Ojibwe language survived the pandemic

June 8th, 2022

26:08

How do you keep your language alive while also protecting the health of elders? That's been the quandary facing Ojibwe educators during the pandemic. As native speakers, Ojibwe elders were the primary teachers of the …

Ukraine’s linguistic patriotism

May 25th, 2022

25:24

For centuries, Russians have dismissed the Ukrainian language as "Little Russian," its speakers as simple-minded peasants. The Kremlin has …

The rare joys of learning Finnish

May 11th, 2022

29:12

Kavita Pillay recently moved to Helsinki with her Finnish husband and half-Finnish daughter. While husband and daughter effortlessly embraced their new linguistic surroundings, Kavita...didn't. In this episode, she …

Presenting More Than a Feeling

April 27th, 2022

36:04

We can't always find words to describe our emotions—not in English, at least. In this episode, Saleem Reshamwala asks friends who speak other languages to share their favorite emotion words and phrases. He also seeks …

Will climate change wipe out French in Louisiana?

April 13th, 2022

27:21

For hundreds of years, people living in Louisiana's bayou country have spoken French. But rising sea levels are submerging entire communities, forcing people to abandon their homes. As native French speakers move away, …

When did comedians start saying ‘punching up’ and ‘punching down’?

March 30th, 2022

32:00

They're not in American dictionaries yet, but the terms, 'punching up' and 'punching down' are on the lips of many comedians. With the help of linguist and journalist Ben Zimmer and British comedian Richard Herring, we …

The language of the outside people

March 16th, 2022

38:44

In this episode, we tell the inspiring, heartbreaking story of Radio Haiti. For several decades, the station broadcast not just in French, spoken by Haiti's elite, but also in Kreyòl, spoken by rich and poor alike. The …

The speechways of the folk

March 2nd, 2022

18:55

Does your grandmother call a chest of drawers a dresser? Or a bureau? Or perhaps a chiffonier? Over the years and across regions, Americans have favored many different words for furniture—and much else. Since 1929, the …

‘Manifesting’ the language of self-help

February 16th, 2022

23:14

If you’ve ever set boundaries, taken up a gratitude practice or manifested, you’re already well-versed in the language of self-help. Over its long history, self-help has acquired its own lexicon, often repurposing words …

Why some words are just funny

February 2nd, 2022

27:11

Why do so many of us laugh at a word like 'poop' but not at, say, 'treadmill'? Is it all down to their meaning? Or are we also responding to the …

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