‘More than Words’ Podcast
Episode 1: Language and Culture

“In this podcast series we immerse ourselves in culture by hearing different stories that will inspire, fascinate and educate. I speak to intrepid travellers, expert linguists, career climbers and sporting stars, as they discuss how language can enrich your life and unlock the door to a new world, that enables a deeper connection to the people and places around you.”
– host, Alex Outhwaite

More than Words

  • Can you understand a culture through its language?
  • Which is better American or British English?
  • When a bit of the local language helps you get away with it
  • How language gives you the motivation to meet new people
  • Language learning beyond the textbooks

All this and more covered in this very first episode of the new Rosetta Stone Podcast ‘More than Words’. Listen as Alex Outhwaite talks to Susie Dent (writer, broadcaster and Countdown legend) and Evan Edinger (travel vlogger, photographer and rising YouTube star) about language’s influence on culture, and how an in-depth knowledge allows us to understand different people, customs and heritage on a far deeper level. Here are just some of the topics they covered:

Listen to Episode 1 >>

Can you understand a culture through its language?

Susie: “I love the insights you can glean into the personality of the nation and its speakers, through a better understanding of the language. Probing the meaning of a particular word for clues about what it tells us about the culture. For example, with the German phrase “Wie spat ist es?” I remember asking my teacher why they ask ‘how late is it’ rather than ‘what is the time’. She replied that, in her experience, many German’s are anxious about being late, and perhaps that is why.

Which is better American or British English?

Susie: “I’m a big fan of American English. I just can’t understand why we in Britain reserve this big hostility to this form of our language. Many of the so-called Americanisms actually started in England. Things like Fall which is short for fall of belief, like Spring is short for Spring of belief. We had trash, we used to call pavements, sidewalks.” 

When a bit of the local language helps you get away with it

Evan: “Last year I went to Neuschwanstein Castle. You’re not allowed to fly a Drone there, but I wanted to. As I was landing it, these two German police officers came over screaming at me. Luckily, I knew enough to make excuses and delay them a bit while I got the memory card out of the Drone. After a lot of apologising they let me go and I got some great footage.”

How language gives you the motivation to meet new people

Evan: “I’m so much more interested in people when I want to learn about their language and culture. Even if you have nothing else in common, you have your curiosity about their world. There are lots of friendships that I wouldn’t have made and wouldn’t still have today if I hadn’t wanted to learn German and be interested in the culture.” 

Language learning beyond the textbooks 

Susie: “I was teaching a class of Freshman in their first year. They were having to learn German as their compulsory language, so they weren’t very enthusiastic. I closed the textbook, and just started telling them about the words that made them laugh. This got their attention and made them much more curious about the language and words. For example, I told them about ‘Sitzpinkler’ – a cuss that suggests someone doesn’t have much umph about them – it literally translates as sitting-pisser” (he who sits down to pee).

Top tips for how to start and keep learning

Evan: “Just start and then be consistent with it. When someone asks me how they should start learning a language, I say “just start”. Then try and build at least 10 to 15 minutes a day. As long as you just dedicate a small about of time every day, even if you’re finding it hard, you’ll see yourself improving and you’ll build your confidence over time.”

Susie: “When I really started getting passionate about the language, was when I started to learn about the culture of Germany. I think it’s very hard to get past an A1 level if you’re not motivated to learn about the culture.”

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About the Author Rosetta Stone Team

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