Who can you ask about the Great American Songbook, the finer Jell-O flavors, and peculiar languages like Saramaccan all while expecting the same kind of fast, thoughtful, and energetic response? Listeners of Lexicon Valley might hazard a guess: John McWhorter. A prominent academic linguist, he’s also highly regarded for his podcast and popular writings across countless books and articles where often displays a deep knowledge in topics beyond his academic training.
John joined Tyler to discuss why he thinks that colloquial Indonesian should be the world’s universal language, the barbaric circumstances that gave rise to Creole languages, the reason Mandarin won’t overtake English as the lingua franca, how the Vikings shaped modern English, the racial politics of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, the decline of American regional accents, why Shakespeare needs an English translation, Harold Arlen vs. Andrew Lloyd Webber, whether reparations for African-Americans is a good idea, how living in Jackson Heights shapes his worldview, what he learned from his mother and father, why good linguistics students enjoy both Russian and Chinese, and more.
Comedian and podcast host Jamie Kilstein talks to fellow stand-up Paul Provenza about Ricky Gervais’s monologue at the Golden Globes and whether comedy is finally emerging from under a cloud of woke humourlessness. You can listen to more podcasts hosted by Jamie Kilstein here.
In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Eugenia Zukerman, an internationally renowned flutist, writer, and former television correspondent. Eugenia was the artistic director of the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival in Colorado for thirteen years and the arts correspondent on CBS Sunday Morning for more than twenty-five years. She is the author of two novels, two works of nonfiction, and numerous screenplays, articles, and book reviews.
Three years ago, Eugenia’s family began to notice changes in her cognition. She was unusually forgetful and at times confused in ways that seemed unusual. Pushed by her family to undergo testing, it was determined that she was suffering symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. It was around this time that Eugenia took pen to paper, and began writing what turned into a lyrical memoir (“Like Falling Through a Cloud,”) of her experience coping with the type of forgetfulness and confusion that comes with such a difficult diagnosis.
What Eugenia Zuckerman is going through is a variation of what we will all face at some point in our lives, and it’s something that is particularly hard to accept for those of us who have been blessed with bountiful lives and the capacities to shape them. We’re used to getting our way, but when it comes to our mortality, we’re all in the same boat. We all have a common fate to share, and in some odd way, this can be a source of comfort.
As we move into a new decade full of life, love, relationships, and opportunities, it would behoove us to focus a little bit more on the things that bring us together and less on the things that set us apart. In this sense, Eugenia’s story serves as an inspiration.