Mother Tongue Interference

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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01Gisela Stuart20130520

Five short autobiographies in two languages. 1. The Labour MP Gisela Stuart was born in Bavaria but now represents the people of Edgbaston in the House of Commons. Neville Chamberlain was once the MP for the same constituency and sometimes Gisela Stuart imagines talking to him of the changes that have occurred in Britain and across Europe since the Second World War. She also recalls her rural upbringing in southern Germany, the economic miracle that turned farmers like her father into BMW factory workers, and acquiring an accent that allowed her to share a joke with the last Pope.

Producer: Tim Dee

02Zinovy Zinik20130521

Five short autobiographies in two languages. 2. Russian novelist Zinovy Zinik came from Moscow to London via Jerusalem in 1976. He worked for the BBC World Service and speaks brilliant if cranky English. As he left, the authorities in the Soviet Union took his passport with its hammer and sickle on the cover and cut it in two with a pair of scissors. He was henceforth blacklisted and unable to return to his homeland for fifteen years. Yet throughout that emigration, and ever since, Russian has remained his language. He reflects on his mother tongue and his fatherland and the solace Sidney Bechet's clarinet playing offered a young boy in 1950s red Moscow. Producer: Tim Dee.

03Evelyn Arizpe20130522

Five short autobiographies in two languages. 3. Mexican scholar of children's literature, Evelyn Arizpe, lives and works in Glasgow and brought up two children there - half in Spanish and half in English. She reflects on her own journeys into English and on the way (and the language) in which children learn and think and imagine. And she listens to some old songs from her mother country. Producer: Tim Dee.

04Maria Mertzani20130523

Five short autobiographies in two languages. 4. Maria Mertzani moved from Greece to study sign language in the UK. The ways different sign languages vary from language to language has much to say about how the world speaks. In Bristol now Maria still signs in Greek but also in British sign language. She also teaches spoken Greek to the Greek children of immigrant families and also to British adults in the UK. She reflects on the routes into and out of language and her own experiences along the way. Producer: Tim Dee.

05 LASTKailash Chand20130524

grew up speaking Punjabi but worked as a GP for his whole career in the UK.

Five short autobiographies in two languages. 5. Kailash Chand is an Indian doctor in Stalybridge, he grew up speaking Punjabi but worked as a GP for his whole career in the UK. He came to Britain in the 1970s and was beaten up in a racist attack not long after he arrived. Despite this welcome, he stayed, built up his own successful practice, and has recently retired to become the deputy chair of the BMA. He remembers his years in the NHS and the comforts of Urdu poetry and Indian songs. Producer: Tim Dee.