Is a polyglot’s brain different?

Susanna Zaraysky, speaker of nine languages, is one of those people who seem able to pick up French or Portuguese almost overnight. In reality, it’s not so effortless—but is she cognitively predisposed to attaining fluency in so many languages? We follow her to an MIT lab where researchers put her through a series of tests.

Photo by Patrick Cox. Music by Silver Maple, Lucention, Pause For Concern, Podington Bear and Blue Dot Sessions. Read a transcript of this episode here.

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  • Sorry, did I just hear three people repeat that the censors in the Soviet Union didn’t speak Yiddish? Where in the world did you get that information? I know this is not the main point of your podcast, but the sheer randomness of this “fact” throws off any attentive listener.

    • Thanks for the comment. You make a good point. In the episode Susanna says that the censors couldn’t read Yiddish. Now, I’m sure some Soviet censors could read Yiddish but her point was that many couldn’t– and she added that the censors in the Lithuanian republic were more lax than in their Russian counterparts. I could have added that Susanna thinks that in their correspondence, the barber and his brother used the Hebrew alphabet– but she wasn’t certain about that, so I decided not to include it.

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