Once upon a hyphen…

Some people have origin stories. Pardis Mahdavi has a hyphenation story. Her Iranian family was the target of a hate crime in Minnesota. She was stripped of her citizenship in Iran. Eventually she embraced the hyphen between the words ‘Iranian’ and ‘American’ as her identity: two cultures within one person.

But what exactly is the function of a hyphen? Does it unite two ideas, or divide them? Together with Pardis Mahdavi, we trace the many disputes surrounding this seemingly humble horizontal line, from Romans and Celts, then via Hollywood to politicians and lexicographers.

Photo of Pardis Mahdavi (center) and her family courtesy of Pardis Mahdavi. More info about her here.

Music by Damma Beatz, Nylonia, Walt Adams, Amaranth Cove, Marc Torch, Pulsed, and Saira Ridley. Read a transcript of the episode here.

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Episode 37