In this week’s podcast, the U.S.Census Bureau is firing on all linguistic cylinders to ensure that non-English speakers are counted in this year’s census. Things don’t always go smoothly: in Vietnamese, the word “census” got translated into something closer to “investigation”. Also, how to pronounce that unpronounceable Icelandic volcano, Scrabble obsession beyond the English-speaking world, and five unique Japanese expressions.
Tagged with “language” (5)
Does Scrabble in fact celebrate language? Or does it merely reduce English to a set of mathematical symbols and probability calculations? In the final episode of our first series of Lexicon Valley podcasts, I talk to Word Freak author and competitive Scrabble player Stefan Fatsis about how a math game disguised as a word game nevertheless unlocks the essential beauty of the English language.
In the late 1970s, a new language was born. And Ann Senghas, Associate Professor of Psychology at Barnard, has spent the last 30 years helping to decode it. In 1978, 50 deaf children entered a newly formed school—a school in which the teachers (who didn’t sign) taught in Spanish. No one knows exactly how it happened, but in the next few years—on school buses and in the playground—these kids invented a set of common words and grammar that opened up a whole new way of communicating, and even thinking.
It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without words. But in this hour of Radiolab, we try to do just that.
We meet a woman who taught a 27-year-old man the first words of his life, hear a firsthand account of what it feels like to have the language center of your brain wiped out by a stroke, and retrace the birth of a brand new language 30 years ago.
Noam Chomsky, Professor, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT
Larry Bensky, Former National Affairs Correspondent, Pacifica Radio; Host, "Sunday Salon" KPFA; Professor at Stanford, California State University East Bay and Berkeley City College - Moderator
World-renowned intellectual Chomsky has been pushing change in language, politics and culture for decades.
This program was recorded in front of a live audience at the Commonwealth Club of California on October 6th, 2009.