iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for 02/06/2010

Listen now 30 mins

Listen in pop-out player


30 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 02 June 2010

Popular stereotypes assume that a nation's language reflects its culture and psychology. The German's orderly language is held to be a better vehicle for philosophy than Spanish. The mellow sounds of Portuguese are believed to reflect a relaxed, continental character. Some linguists have even suggested our mother tongue can limit the capacity for thought. So a language with no future tense prevents its speakers from anticipating tomorrow. And primitive cultures which had no word for blue must have been colour blind. But a new book argues that words are not such a prison house. Just because we do not have a word for blue does not mean we can't see it or name it one day. There's evidence of complexity even in the language of hunter gatherer societies. So says the writer Guy Deutscher, who's joined by the philosopher A.C. Grayling. They explore with Laurie Taylor how words shape and define our world.

Also, what explains the contrasting economic fortunes within different parts of the same country? The economist Mario Polese examines the causes and patterns of regional inequality around the world. How did Manchester, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, lose out to London? Why is the formerly impoverished rural South in the US enjoying an economic revival? And is it inevitable that the flight to urban cities will always be at the expense of the areas left behind? Join Laurie Taylor for an exploration into why some regions prosper and others decline.

Producer: Jayne Egerton.

  • Guy Deutscher

    Guy Deutscher, Writer and former Research Fellow in Historical Linguistics at St John's College, Cambridge

    Through the Language Glass: How Words Colour Your World
    Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd
    ISBN-10: 0099505576
    ISBN-13: 978-0099505570

    Find out more about Guy Deutscher
  • Anthony Grayling

    Anthony Grayling, Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, and a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford

    Find out more about Anthony Grayling
  • Mario Polèse

    Mario Polèse, Professor in Urban and Regional Studies at the Institute National de la Recherche Scientifique in Montreal, Canada

    The Wealth and Poverty of Regions: Why Cities Matter
    Publisher: Chicago University Press
    ISBN-10: 0226673154
    ISBN-13: 978-0226673158

    Find out more about Mario Polèse


Free download

  1. Image for Thinking Allowed

    Thinking Allowed

    Laurie Taylor explores the latest research into how society works and discusses current ideas on how…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss