Nina is a former producer for PRI's The World.
When I was a kid my favorite record was a collection of sounds of the city: sirens, cooing pigeons, jack hammers, bicycle bells, dogs barking, horns honking, etc. I would play this record, much to the sheer agony of my parents, ad nauseum, making up a story for each sound. I like to think that was the first hint of a career in public radio. I joined The World's newsroom in 2013 after working as an independent producer/reporter. Prior to that I had a penchant for joining corps; first the Peace Corps in Romania and then traveling around the U.S. in an Airstream trailer as a facilitator for StoryCorps. When I'm not enlisting in yet another corps, you may find me baking pie, eating pie, and pretty much thinking about pie.
This week on the podcast we talk about Basque. How did this language survive the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco when speaking and writing and reading were illegal? With more than six dialects, how did Basque develop a language standard? And how has this minority language thrived and even grown in the years since Francisco Franco’s dictatorship ended?
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.
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.
The Jewish residents of the Polish village of Jedwabne were killed July 10, 1941. For years the village attributed the massacre to German soldiers. In 2000, historian Jan Gross wrote a book that told a different story, that the Jews were killed by their Polish neighbors. The book caused an uproar in Poland and the story of Jedwabne continues to reverberate in Poland today.
Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels have become global hits. They are rife with love and sex and the mob — and commentary about language. This week on the podcast we explore Italy's linguistic history and the tensions between Italian dialects and the lingua franca.
Memory can be slippery, especially when there's incentive to forget, or misremember. In the Polish village of Jedwabne, residents long said Nazis were responsible for the massacre, one hot day in July 1941, of hundreds of Jews in the village. Then evidence emerged that the villagers of Jedwabne had killed their own neighbors.
In 1944 Henryk Ross buried his negatives. He was the official photographer of the Lodz ghetto in Poland. The ghetto was being liquidated, and Ross was unsure if he would survive to retrieve his work. He did.
Polish musician Tomek Lipinski heard his first punk album on a cassette tape in 1978. That tape changed his life.