Latest Episodes

Culture

The three-letter word that rocked a nation

In 2012, Sweden erupted in a national debate over the pronoun "hen." Traditionally, Swedish has gendered pronouns when referring to people. There is no gender-neutral pronoun for people. "Hen" was a new word meant to fill a gap in the language. This week on The World in Words podcast we explore how a little-known and little-used word went mainstream in Sweden.

Culture

A British 'Mx.' tape

Mx. is a gender-neutral title that's gaining popularity in the UK. Though the road to acceptance for this prefix has not been without a struggle. On The World in Words podcast, we delve into the fight over this two-letter word.

Science

Where does language come from?

Humans are the only creatures on Earth that can choke on their own food. Yes, that’s right. Why would humans have evolved such potentially fatal architecture? Some experts say the reason is speech. This week on the podcast, we explore several theories about where language comes from.

Media

Deciphering the lingo of pro-Trump trolls

In the run-up to the US presidential election, Cristina López came across language online that she didn’t understand — terms like “meme magic,” “red-pilled” and “nimble navigator.” They kept popping up in Reddit and 4chan where Donald Trump supporters posted. López and her colleagues at nonprofit Media Matters for America have spent many hours lurking on these message boards, deciphering what she calls the pro-Trump troll dialect. This week on the podcast, López explains some of the dialect.

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