Monthly Archives: August 2008

podcast #18: French in the past, present and future, immigrant slang and Rachid Taha

It’s an all-gallic lineup this week. First I wax unlyrical on the French language and American politicians. Then we hear why French is growing in global importance, at least according to a couple of Canadians. We stay in Canada after that to check in on the Quebec provincial government’s efforts to get immigrants to learn French. Then it’s on to the banlieues of Paris, where street talk that mixes several languages has resulted in a new dictionary. And finally we hear from French-Algerian pop star Rachid Taha on the challenges of singing in Arabic. Listen here.

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podcast #17: global swearology, Georgian polyphony and a nonsense song

For blogger Stephen Dodson, swearing is liberation. And the more languages you can swear in, the more liberated you’ll feel. Dodson is the co-author of a new book on global cursing, and we feature an interview with him. Also this week, the story of YouTube sensation (now that’s a 2008 cliche) Peter Nalitch, a Russian who sings nonsense English. And we’ll hear from a group of Georgian choral singers. They’re part of a revival of Georgian-language hymns and folk songs following decades of Soviet repression. It’s some of the most hauntingly beautiful music I’ve ever heard. Listen here.

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podcast #16: naming your child, Senegalese scrabble and “Um”

Why is Ghana’s most famous citizen Kofi Annan so named? Hint: if he’d been born on a different day he might have been called Kwame. Plus, in New Zealand a judge has allowed a 9-year-old girl to change her name from Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii. In parts of Honduras, the name Radiator is popular. Yup, it isn’t just in the United States where people are given ridiculous names. Also in this podcast, why the Senegalese love scrabble… and a conversation with Michael Erard, author of “Um,” a book about slips, stumbles and verbal blunders. Listen on iTunes or  here.

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podcast #15: China’s mad about English and everyone’s mad about Chinglish

Learning English is all the rage in China right now. We have several items on how the Chinese are struggling to learn English: many struggle more than learn. We ask whether China’s emerging English profiency will mean an end to those poor but funny translations known as Chinglish. We also discover that you can commit some seriously juicy Chinglish in reverse form, from English to Chinese. Listen here or here on iTunes.

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