Monthly Archives: June 2008

podcast # 10: speaking freely around the world

With a nod to July 4th, we check in on a quintessential American value: free speech. President Bush says it’s a foreign policy priority. Well, actually, it’s not when it comes to U.S. ally Singapore. We also take a look at a bill in Congress called the Global Online Freedom Act. We spend some time with a Pakistani-American family living in Phoenix, AZ, who together have written “The American Muslim Teenager’s Handbook.” And we offer a tribute to George Carlin and his disdain for euphemism. Listen here.

 

 

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podcast #9: the global prospects of English and Textperanto

The English language has been expanding its reach since…I’m no expert, but certainly long before those Mayflower men hit an American rock. Recently, English has made inroads in post-Soviet Russian.  In Estonia meanwhile, everyone’s so busy learning English that they have forgotten that they are right next to Mother Russia.  Then there’s Sol Steinmetz, a man of many tongues. Several decades ago, he was a boy of many tongues: he learned Hungarian, then Yiddish, then Spanish, then English. He still speaks all those other languages – and a couple more – but he feels most comfortable speaking English. 

There are, of course, global rivals to English – Chinese, Spanish, French – but Esperanto is most assuredly not such a rival. Now there’s a new Esperanto for the text messaging generation.  Someone in our newsroom said it should be called Textperanto. Alas, no: its name is NOL. That’s this week’s podcast. Listen to it here.

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podcast #8: words about Iraq, terror and basketball

This week, the evolving language of George W. Bush’s foreign policy: we take a look at how his descriptions of Iraq and the “war on terror” have changed over the years. We also hear about a few words the President wishes he hadn’t used. And finally, we consider the Boston Celtics’ embrace of the Zulu concept of “ubuntu.” Listen here. Or on iTunes.

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Jokes from near and far, and how one Finnish word sparked a global movement

The language of humor: is German humor really an oxymoron? Of course not, unless you don’t get the jokes. Germans are trying to break out of their unamusing — and unamused — past. They’re even making fun of the Nazis.  On the subject of horrifying but ridiculous regimes, are Soviet jokes still funny?  They certainly set the bar for dark. And why does the humor of say, The Office overcome language barriers while other comedies remain imprisoned within their own languages?
Also this week, I take a look at how two video artists turned an obscure Finnish word meaning “complaints choir” into a worldwide phenomenon.  Listen to the podcast in iTunes or here.

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podcast #6: cluster bombs, bomblets and Arizona’s language wars

As 111 nations agree to ban cluster bombs, we consider the meanings of term “cluster bomb.” Also, we begin an occasional series on Arizona’s noisy battles over language and immigration: English is the official language, but Spanish is washing across the border. We’ll hear from from undocumented high schoolers, and from Arizona writer Tom Miller. Listen to the podcast here.

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