The Weekend Listener #6

The Weekend Listener is an eclectic weekly list of noteworthy podcasts and radio recordings, old and new, curated for your listening pleasure. Posts in this series are published on Fridays – please search the website for the previous instalments.


Lexicon Valley: Why Do Languages Have Gender

Photo by Tim Mossholder on

In my mother tongue, a chair is a ‘she’, while a table is a ‘he’. Have you ever wondered why some languages have the category of gender in the first place? What purpose does this way of categorising things serve? All Indo-European languages have it, but how and why did English laregly lose it? Find out the answers to these and many other related questions in this episode of the Lexicon Valley podcast. [Duration: 56’]


In Our Time: Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen

With the Armistice Day approaching, commemorating the end of the First World War, many fine poets of the period come to mind. Wilfred Owen is a personal favourite: killed in battle on 4th November 1918, exactly a week before the armistice was declared, he spoke in his poems of the unbearable horror and futility of war. Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Owen’s life and legacy. [Duration: 45’]


British Council Audio Zone: Learning Languages

Photo by Craig Adderley on

This podcast for upper-intermediate (B2) students brings you some simple but effective ideas on how you can improve your language learning practice, regardless of which foreign language you happen to be learning. While the audio itself is quite short, there are additional tasks and activities available on the webpage, as well as the full transcript. [Duration: 3’21’’]


RadioWest: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle

Photo by cottonbro studio on

Invented in the relatively recent past, the bicycle has quickly become an integral part of our lives. Causing controversy right from the word go, the history of the bicycle reflects the shifts in values, class and ideology. In this RadioWest interview, Doug Fabrizio talks with Jody Rosen, the author of the book Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle. [Duration: 51’30’’]


The Art of Manliness: What People Get Wrong About Walden

Reconstruction of Thoreau’s cabin

The writer and transcendentalist philosopher Henry David Thoreau spent over two years living in a small cabin by the Walden Pond in the 1840s. Several years later, he published the book Walden; or, Life in the Woods, detailing his radical experiment in self-reliance and simplicity – a book that has since been a source of inspiration to many. In this episode of The Art of Manliness podcast, Jeffrey S. Cramer provides background to Thoreau and draws attention to some often misunderstood aspects of his life and thought. The webpage contains the full transcript of the programme. [Duration: 53’06’’]


Ideas Podcast: Sonorous Desert

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on

This podcast from the Princeton University Press is an interview with Kim Haines-Eitzen, the author of Sonorous Desert: What Deep Listening Taught Early Christian Monks—and What It Can Teach Us. It’s a fascinating look into the world of the fathers and mothers of Christian monasticism, and how their experience of the desert – not at all as soundless as you might expect – influenced the development of the Christian monastic spirituality. [Duration: 36’05’’]

Is there a podcast episode you’d like to recommend on these or related topics? You’re very welcome to share it in the comments section below.

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