70. A Whisper to God

The American journalist, linguist, and author Michael Erard (Babel No More) has lived in South America, Asia, and now in Europe. He’s always had an ear to the native languages as much as for them.

A deep researcher of language, he shares in this episode why he believes that “human beings are meant to have very complex linguistic systems in their brains.” He also explains why he likens learning a language to weaving a rope.


Michael and his family have been living in the Netherlands for several years now. In the process of acquiring Dutch, he’s discovered a method of language immersion that there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of. It’s known locally as “going to the nuns.”

Listen and you’ll find out why—and lots more that may well have you thinking about learning languages from some fresh and often provocative perspectives.


Listen on Apple Podcasts here: America the Bilingual by Steve Leveen; on Spotify; or wherever you tune in to your podcasts.


At the beginning of the episode, listeners got an idea of what Babel might sound like. Here’s the Spanish that you heard:

Por esto fue llamado el nombre de ella Babel. Porque allí confundió Jehová el lenguaje de toda la tierra y desde allí los esparció sobre la faz de toda la tierra. 

And here’s the English translation:

For this reason its name was called Babel. For there, Jehovah confused the language of the whole earth and from there he scattered them over the face of the whole earth.


Please share this episode where you socialize, or be a reviewer on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. You’ll be part of a blossoming bilingual America, where English unites us and our other languages strengthen us.


Thanks to members of the America the Bilingual Project team for this episode: Fernando Hernández, the writer for this episode, and his production house in Guadalajara, Mexico Esto No Es Radio, which provides sound design and mixing; Mim Harrison, editorial and brand director of the America the Bilingual Project,; and Karla Hernandez at Daruma Tech, who manages our website.

Meet the entire America the Bilingual team—including our bark-lingual mascot, Chet—here.

Music in this episode, in sequence: Demoiselle Döner, Des têtes trop pleines; John Bartmann, African Moon; Kevin Macleod, QuasiMotion; Loyalty Freak Music, Waiting TTTT; TRG Banks, Michael Landon; TRG Banks, Horse Ride 2; Jorge Mario Zuleta, En Detención;  and John Bartmann, Bouncy Gypsy Beats.

We welcome your comments on this episode page and on Facebook.

Be sure to check out our Book page to see to see why the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Kennedy calls America’s Bilingual Century “timely, smart, and refreshingly practical.”

Enjoy the book in your favorite format. Click here.


2024-01-17T08:46:49-05:00By |Episodes|

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