Arts, Culture & Media

Three mother tongues in one

leb top.jpg

Sign in Beirut celebrating the hybrid Arabic/French/English that many Lebanese like to speak. 

Credit:

Ted Swedenburg via Flickr
 

This week's World in Words podcast heads to Beirut, where many Lebanese celebrate their hybrid language. 

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It's not like in the United States where Spanglish is frowned upon by many. Or Singapore where the government discourages the use of Singlish, a mix of English, Malay, Hokkien and several other languages.

In Lebanon, they love their melange of Arabic, English and French. If it's a reminder of Lebanon colonial past, it's not one that offends most Lebanese. Rather it's a point of pride. 

After going to a marketplace in Beirut, we hear about one particular Arabic/English expression. It's a swearword favored by many but not always understood: one Lebanese woman would just as soon not know its meaning.

Also in the podcast, a TV documentary about efforts to revive the Lakota language. 

PODCAST CONTENTS:

00:00 A warning and a question

2:05 Dalia Mortada visits a Beirut farmers' market to sample the codeswitching. She writes more about this here

3:55 A generational divide in attitudes to codeswitching.

6:00 "The bastard sentence that sums it all up."

7:04 An Arabic/English expression:

8:15 What does it mean? "Darn!" Or something stronger? 

10:50 The podcast's plans for 2016: Please help us find fresh stories about reviving threatened languages.

11:55 Rising Voices / Hótȟaŋiŋpi, a TV documentary about efforts to bring back the Lakota language. Local listings are here.

14:05 Questions: How much of the language do you need to speak to be an Indian? What if you used to speak the language but you forgot it? How about if you speak the language but you also shop at Walmart and drive a big American truck: are you more or less of an Indian?

19:00 A reminder that if you liked this episode of The World in Words, we'd really appreciate hearing from you. Also, please consider writing a review on iTunes, Stitcher— or wherever you listen. Thanks!

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National Endowment for the Humanities

With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities