Rough Translation

Rough Translation


How are the things we're talking about being talked about somewhere else in the world? Gregory Warner tells stories that follow familiar conversations into unfamiliar territory. At a time when the world seems small but it's as hard as ever to escape our echo chambers, Rough Translation takes you places.


Rough Translation New Years Message

As we head toward a new year, former Rough Translation host Gregory Warner reflects on "goal disengagement" — letting go of past goals, rather than coming up with New Year resolutions. He recommends three of his favorite episodes aligned with this theme for Rough Translation fans and new listeners. Episodes are in the show notes below. And we encourage you to visit our archives with some timeless Rough Translation gems.When Failure is a 4-Letter Word: Poems: Surrogate: Rough Translation's archive of timeless episodes here:
27/12/234m 37s

Hold the Sitar: The Making of the Love Commandos Theme Song

In this bonus episode of Love Commandos, Gregory Warner interviews musician John Ellis, who composed Rough Translation's original theme music in 2017, and songwriters Amira Gill and VASU, who jointly created the new theme song for Love Commandos. They discuss their musical processes, and how they incorporate stories into their music. Love Commandos will be releasing more bonus episodes like this one over the next few weeks, where the team will continue to take listeners behind the scenes of the show and continue exploring the themes of love and marriage in modern India. To access those episodes, sign up for Embedded+ at
30/08/2324m 42s

Calling It Quits

In Episode 5 of Love Commandos, couples seeking to shut down the Love Commandos' shelter band together for a risky plan. Want to hear bonus episodes of Love Commandos? Sign up for Embedded+ at Subscribe to host Gregory Warner's Rough Transition substack newsletter.
23/08/2330m 6s

Forever Yours

On Episode 4 of Love Commandos, couples in the shelter feel pressured to stay indefinitely. We try to figure out why. Want to hear episodes of Love Commandos a week before everyone else? Sign up for Embedded+ at Subscribe to host Gregory Warner's Rough Transition substack newsletter.
16/08/2334m 28s

The Honeymoon

On Episode 3 of Love Commandos, stories of life inside the Love Commandos shelter begin to diverge as co-founder Sanjoy Sachdev shows a different side.Want to hear episodes of Love Commandos a week before everyone else? Sign up for Embedded+ at And subscribe to host Gregory Warner's Rough Transition Substack.
09/08/2331m 29s

After The Wedding

On episode 2 of Love Commandos, an inter-caste couple in India hits a breaking point. They make one last-ditch phone call to try to stay together. Want to hear episodes of Love Commandos a week before everyone else? Sign up for Embedded+ at Subscribe to host Gregory Warner's Rough Transition newsletter on Substack.
02/08/2332m 25s

The Vow

When falling in love can mean risking your life, the Love Commandos in India will protect you. But at what cost? This is episode 1 of our series Love Commandos. Want to hear episodes of Love Commandos a week before everyone else? Sign up for Embedded+ at And follow host Gregory Warner on Substack here.
26/07/2321m 32s

New Season: Love Commandos. Starting Wednesday, July 26th.

They seemed like superheroes. In a country where arranged marriage is the norm, the Love Commandos promise to protect love couples and help them marry. But is this a group of protectors in the way they promise to be?
21/07/233m 24s

When We Talk About Love Stories

We leap into the gap between love stories and real life. And hear a sneak peek of Rough Translation's newest season! Subscribe here to Gregory's substack.
12/07/2325m 53s

Fan Favorites: How to Speak Bad English

Gregory talks "inside baseball" of American English. And we revisit an episode that sparked a lot of conversation among listeners in 2021–about the global pursuit of "good English" and what it takes to change the multi-billion dollar industry built around it.Write to us at and follow Gregory's Substack.Read more at NPR's global health and development blog, Goats and Soda.Tower Of Babble: Nonnative Speakers Navigate The World Of 'Good' And 'Bad' EnglishPrepone That! Your Accent Is Funny! Readers Share Their ESL Stories
10/05/2338m 7s

Fan Favorites: Dream Boy and the Poison Fans

The unlikely places that fandom can take us, and how to know when we've gone too far. This week, we revisit an episode from 2020. And don't forget to subscribe to Gregory's Substack.
26/04/2339m 27s

Fan Favorites: Anna in Somalia

Gregory tells a story about his first job out of college. And we revisit an episode from 2017. Also, what's your favorite Rough Translation episode? Let us know.
12/04/2336m 49s

This Is Not A Goodbye

Our host Gregory Warner reads your tweets and drops some big news about Rough Translation. Subscribe to Gregory's Substack and follow him on Twitter to stay on the journey. And coming soon: episodes revisiting our archives, plus an exciting summer season in collaboration with NPR's international desk.
31/03/232m 13s

Ukraine: The Handoff

We travel to Ukraine to follow a shipment of abortion pills, and discover a complicated conversation about pregnancy and choice in wartime. Part 2 of our collaboration with Radiolab.
03/02/2331m 17s

Ukraine: Under The Counter

One weekend. An amateur smuggling operation. A wartime mission. The story, in collaboration with Radiolab.
20/01/2340m 59s

The Cat Must Still Be Fed

A hyperlocal news site in Red Hook, N.Y. posts a job opening. A journalist in Ukraine applies. And what readers think of as "local news" is going to change dramatically.
03/08/2239m 56s

Alone@Work: Miles To Go Before I'm Me

726 miles in one day. Gas station sushi. Mysterious loading docks. We hit the road with two American women who found long-haul trucking as a means of escape and self-transformation.
13/07/2231m 48s

Ourselves@Work: Home Is Where The Hustle Is

Nigerian novelist Chibundu Onuzo dreams of returning to Lagos, but she worries she'll struggle to adapt in the city of her birth, where the word "oppressor" is often used as a compliment. In this episode, she seeks advice from her "big boss" older brother.
06/07/2226m 36s

You're@Work: The Right Persona for the Job

Who are you at work? In this episode, two stories of people who really commit to embodying their work selves. The result? New realms and new personalities.
29/06/2232m 54s

Failing@Work: Epic Fails & Failure Epics

Many of us think we can't share our stories of failure until we've reached success. Some Mexico City entrepreneurs started a club to change that, and the world took notice.
22/06/2229m 16s

Stuck@Work: Your Country's Brand Is Escape, But You Can't

When Portugal forbade bosses from contacting employees after hours, international media jumped at the chance to cover the new law. Portuguese workers were oddly quiet. Why?
15/06/2240m 23s

Lunching@Work: When Eating at Your Desk Is Forbidden

In 2021, France suspended a law that forbids eating lunch at work. We talk to an American teacher relieved to see it go and a French historian determined to bring it back.
08/06/2229m 46s

Slackers@Work: A Song for the Exhausted

A video ricochets across Chinese offices, and a scooter thief becomes an icon for brewing discontent. Why is a thief who says he's tired of working viewed by the Chinese state as such a threat?
01/06/2239m 41s

New Season: @Work. Starting June 1.

We're back @Work. The new season of Rough Translation will tell surprising stories from workplaces and work cultures around the world.
25/05/222m 45s

The Good Russians

Hundreds of thousands of Russians are leaving Russia. They're facing an uncertain welcome abroad. Poet and writer Linor Goralik joins us to read from "Exodus 22," her uncomfortably frank conversations with Russians who – before the war – lived in a Westernized bubble, ignoring the mounting threats of Putin's regime. Then, the bubble burst.
27/04/2220m 1s

The Scarf and the Snuffbox

What can a blank piece of paper, four ballerinas, a scarf and snuff box mean in Russia? A conversation with Russian Anthropologist Alexandra Arkhipova about how anti-war protestors resist the war in Ukraine through code and hidden messages.
15/04/2217m 28s

Letter of Unhappiness

When Naira calls her parents back home in Russia to talk about the war in Ukraine, they treat her as an outsider and a threat. She finds a way to break through the propaganda wall, with inspiration from a chain letter.
30/03/2215m 50s

The Culture Front

When protecting a language is used as justification for war, how can its speakers fight back? A conversation with Russian speakers of the diaspora who are rethinking their relationship to language, identity, and the Russian community.
15/03/2240m 36s

Fighting Words In Ukraine

Vladimir Putin joined the KGB at age 23. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy got his early training in a no less Soviet institution–the world of competitive comedy. We update our 2019 episode about a high-stakes comedy competition in Ukraine.
02/03/2231m 23s

Presenting 'TED Radio Hour': Work, Play, Rest

The past few years have shaken the fundamental ways we live. It's... disorienting. But it's also an opportunity to reexamine how we spend our time. In this episode from TED Radio Hour, speakers investigate evolving notions of what it means to pay our bills.
16/02/2250m 40s

May We Have This Dance?

A jazz dance born in Harlem in the 1920s ends up in a tiny Swedish town. What happens when Black dancers try to bring the Lindy Hop home?
22/12/2143m 47s

Moms In Translation

An Irish journalist discovers she belongs in a place she's never been. A 6-year-old boy decides he's from another country. Stories about finding home far from home.
15/12/2141m 59s

Tasting At A Distance

You can zoom around the world through sight and sound, but you can't taste at a distance, right? Stories about what happens when we try.
08/12/2133m 26s

Home/Front: Marla's List

Marla kept a detailed account of Iraqi civilians harmed by war. How did she recruit people in the U.S. military to help them? And what toll did it take on her? Part 2 of the story of Marla Ruzicka. You can find Part 1 here.
10/07/2149m 0s

Home/Front: Marla's War

Marla Ruzicka didn't belong in a war zone. Nobody in Afghanistan knew what to make of her. Until Marla started to solve a problem that no one thought could be solved.
30/06/2134m 33s

Home/Front: Rebels In The Valley

Two worlds: dress uniforms and foosball tables. The military and Silicon Valley used to work hand in hand. Now, why won't big tech build them a new gonculator?
23/06/2128m 41s

Home/Front: Battle Borne

Alicia's situation raises questions about the VA's caregiver program. And a new diagnosis changes everything for Matt. How will Alicia and Matt start healing their respective wounds, borne out of different battles? Find part 2, Battle Lines, here. And part 1, Battle Rattle, here.
16/06/2139m 23s

Home/Front: Battle Lines

Alicia Lammers takes on the twin roles of wife and caregiver to her veteran husband. What happens when your husband becomes your official duty? Part 2 of the story of Matt and Alicia Lammers. You can find Part 1, Battle Rattle, here.
09/06/2138m 12s

Home/Front: Battle Rattle

He's a veteran looking for love. She's a civilian who learns more about war than she ever imagined. Part 1 of the story of Matt and Alicia Lammers.
02/06/2138m 53s


Is it true that "you can't understand" if you've never been to war? In the first episode of our new season, we hear from people on opposing sides of a widening divide.
26/05/2121m 49s

War Poems Revisited

As the U.S. pulls out of Afghanistan, we look back at a time when Taliban poetry and a local cooking show became part of the war. And the U.S. had the perfect person to fight on that front.
05/05/2145m 37s

How To Speak Bad English

Heather Hansen used to teach people to speak "perfect" English. Until she realized that so-called "bad English" might be a better way to communicate.
21/04/2134m 51s

Liberté, Égalité, French Fries... And Couscous

Our favorite McDonald's in Marseille, France has reached its afterlife. It took court cases, spray paint, and the slogan you know turned upside down (literally) to get there.
07/04/2150m 11s

"We Already Belong": A Conversation With R.O. Kwon

In the wake of the shootings in Atlanta, a Korean-American writer reconnects with her own family.
26/03/2126m 43s

Welcome To The Vaccination Club

Two very different approaches to wooing vaccine skeptics. And how a little FOMO can go a long way.
10/03/2121m 51s

Rewriting The Travel Guidebook With Nanjala Nyabola

What happens when your guidebook isn't written with you in mind? Nanjala Nyabola on her new book: Travelling While Black.
25/02/2127m 15s

Boxing Back

Your stories and creative solutions to not quite fitting in.
10/02/2127m 16s

Our Boxes, Ourselves

From Montréal to Edinburgh, and from São Paulo to Taipei: your stories about belonging, or longing to just be.
27/01/2124m 54s

We (Still) Don't Say That

France is the place where for decades you weren't supposed to talk about someone's blackness, unless you said it in English. Today, we're going to meet the people who took a very French approach to change that.
16/12/2049m 55s

Presenting 'It's Been A Minute': White Supremacy And Its Online Reach

For close to a year, Talia Lavin went undercover in white supremacist online communities, creating fake personas that would gain her access to the dark reaches of the internet normally off-limits to her, a Jewish woman. That research laid the groundwork for her book, Culture Warlords: My Journey Into the Dark Web of White Supremacy. Lavin talks to It's Been A Minute host Sam Sanders about what it was like to infiltrate those online spaces, what she learned, and how white supremacy cannot exist without anti-Semitism.
09/12/2028m 28s

Welcome To The New World

What can a young refugee who's survived a war teach a novelist about writing young adult adventure?
25/11/2033m 26s

All Eyes On US

Just because you can't vote, doesn't mean you're not watching. We crisscross the globe to understand how people see their fates and fortunes in the aftermath of the 2020 U.S. election.
12/11/2038m 27s

Presenting 'Louder Than A Riot': Lyrics On Trial

On this bonus drop, we feature an episode from the NPR podcast Louder Than A Riot called "Lyrics on Trial."
06/11/2034m 0s

Radical Rudeness

After a Ugandan scholar is suspended from her university job, she discovers a new tool for resistance: extreme public rudeness. Will it work against a strongman president?
28/10/2044m 23s

The Loneliness Of The Climate Change Christian

What if more evangelical Christians in the United States fought climate change with the same spirit they bring to the issue of abortion? We go back to a surprisingly recent period when that happened.
14/10/2036m 52s

How To Be An Anti-Casteist

How does India's caste system play out in the hiring practices of Silicon Valley? And what happens when dominant caste people in the U.S. grapple with their own inherited privilege for the first time?
30/09/2032m 45s

Dream Boy And The Poison Fans

A Chinese idol had millions of fans who adored him for his kindness and good looks. Then, this February, one group of fans accused another of violating their image of him. What happens is a lesson in morality and revenge, love and hate, and how these feelings are weaponized on the internet.
16/09/2036m 59s

New Season: School of Scandal... Coming Sept. 16

We're back with a special series, Rough Translation's "School of Scandal," stories about people around the world calling each other out and taking each other down to change the status quo.
09/09/201m 39s

El Hilo: Walking To Venezuela

One man's mission to get hundreds of his fellow Venezuelans back home from Ecuador in a pandemic, even if it means walking all 1,300 miles. This story was originally reported for El Hilo, a new podcast from the makers of NPR's Radio Ambulante.
22/07/2029m 20s

Hello, Neighbor

Ireland's "cocooning" policy during the coronavirus lockdown asked people over age 70 to stay at home and not to leave for any reason. Suddenly, neighbors and strangers leapt to help them with everything — if the cocooners would let them.
08/07/2023m 25s

So Long, Black Pete

Resolving conflict through consensus is a very Dutch tradition. But how do you compromise when it comes to racism? This week on Rough Translation, the controversial Dutch character Black Pete, and how Black Lives Matter may have helped change the holiday season in the Netherlands forever.
24/06/2030m 17s

The Global Legacy of George Floyd

Five personal stories from five continents on the global impact of George Floyd.
10/06/2029m 10s

From Niqab To N95

The French republic "lives with her face uncovered," say the posters. But now face masks are mandatory. We look back at why covering your face in France used to be a sign of bad citizenship, until it wasn't.
27/05/2019m 57s

Hotel Corona

One hundred and eighty recovering COVID-19 patients. One Jerusalem hotel. Secular, religious, Arabs, Jews, old, young. Their phones are out, they're recording. And the rest of Israel is... tuning in.
13/05/2033m 42s

American Surrogate: 30 Months Later

Back in 2017, we brought you the story of a Chinese mom who hired an American surrogate to carry her baby. Each needed something from the other that was hard to admit. Their relationship became a crash course in transcontinental communication and the meaning of family. Now, in the middle of a pandemic, we check in with them.
29/04/2046m 50s

The Coronavirus Guilt Trip

Public shame is a powerful tool. But how useful is it when trying to curb a global pandemic? Shaming stories from South Korean chat rooms, a Pakistani street corner, and a Brooklyn grocery store.
17/04/2026m 37s

WeChats From The Future

She felt the urgency before her husband did. A story about the time lag between the arrival of the coronavirus in two different nations, and how that played out in a marriage
02/04/2022m 11s

How Covid-19 Is Challenging Cultures

This week on Rough Translation, we check in with NPR international correspondents in China, Germany and Greece about the ways that culture shapes—and is reshaped by—responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
19/03/2021m 50s

The Original Sin Of Li Jiabao

A young Chinese exchange student in Taiwan with no history of activism posts a video criticizing China's president Xi Jinping on Twitter, then asks for asylum. His request for protection fuels a larger discussion about Taiwan's role as a haven for Chinese dissidents, and also raises questions about who he is as an individual and his motivations. Who is he, and can he be trusted?
26/02/2024m 55s

Rough Translation Presents: Throughline

This week, we present the latest episode of NPR's Throughline, a look at the life and complicated legacy of the assassinated Iranian military leader, Qassem Soleimani.
29/01/2051m 4s

Whose Ukraine Is It Anyway?

Please, take our survey! At a Ukrainian comedy competition founded by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, can humor unite a divided country?
04/12/1927m 25s

Ukraine: Race Against The Machine

In the country on the other side of the impeachment hearings... A comedian runs for president of Ukraine and wins in a landslide, with a parliamentary majority to pass any law he wants. So now what? Our host, Gregory Warner, reports from Kyiv.
20/11/1918m 32s

Preview: Rough Translation In Ukraine

Listen to hear a preview of a special two-part episode about Ukraine, reported by Gregory Warner.
13/11/191m 21s

Mom In Translation

For our season finale, a listener's story: When a six-year-old boy adopts Tokyo as his new home, his American mom has to figure out where she belongs in her son's new life.If you want to share your story, email
02/10/1926m 43s

Liberté, Égalité And French Fries

What happens when the employees of a French McDonald's take the corporate philosophy so deeply to heart, that it actually becomes a problem for the company? To listen to more Rough Translation, check out our previous episodes.
19/09/1943m 31s

When We Talk About Love

We visit a storytelling podcast from China that slips under the radar of China's government censors, and other international podcast stories about the search for love.
04/09/1938m 34s

Brazil In Black And White: Update

Two radically different ways of seeing race come into conflict in Brazil, provoking a national conversation about who is Black? And who is not Black enough? We revisit our first ever Rough Translation episode, with an update on how the election of an anti-affirmative action president is affecting the debate. If you want to see a photo of the medical school students:
21/08/1932m 44s

The Mind Of The Mark

If you're the kind of person who thinks you can't be conned, that assumption may make it harder for you to recognize when you actually are being scammed. We speak with professional poker player and author Maria Konnikova about how con-artists get inside the stories we all tell ourselves, about ourselves. Then we go to an international multimillion dollar scam in Costa Rica, where a master of the con meets his match... the IT guy.
07/08/1934m 22s

What Would Jesus Drive?

What if more evangelical Christians in the United States fought climate change with the same spirit they bring to the issue of abortion? In this episode, we go back to a surprisingly recent period when that nearly happened. We meet two evangelicals who made it their mission to bridge the divide between Christians and environmentalists. What happened, and why they say the best way to start conversations about the planet is with readings of the bible.For photos and links: us:
24/07/1934m 42s

When Failure Is A 4-Letter Word

On today's episode, entrepreneurs around the world are trying to redefine how their societies perceive failure, by doing the scariest thing possible: standing up in public and admitting their mistakes. Links to more stories: us your story: #ShareYourFailure (
11/07/1928m 19s

The Search: Part 2

A fragile alliance begins to fracture, as a romantic photo of Kamaran resurfaces. Ahmed confronts his family. And Sebastian meets with ISIS. * Note: This story contains strong language and sounds of war.
20/06/1944m 25s

The Search: Part 1

When a journalist goes missing in Iraq, his friends and family have to figure out a rescue plan. * Note: This story contains strong language and sounds of war.
12/06/1939m 23s

The Man Who Sedated Eichmann

The capture of Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann was one of Israel's proudest moments. But the doctor at the center of the spy operation refused to talk about his role — even with his family. Today, his children ask why.
29/05/1929m 14s

How to Speak Addiction

A daughter — and reporter — discovers an uncomfortable truth about her mother's alcoholism. She travels to the other side of the world to find out if there's a better way to treat addiction.
15/05/1931m 49s

We Don't Say That

France is the place where for decades you weren't supposed to talk about someone's blackness, unless you said it in English. Today, we're going to meet the people who took a very French approach to change that. (Note: This story contains strong language in English and French.)
01/05/1941m 34s

D.I.Y. Mosul

Fed up with government inaction, young people start rebuilding Mosul on their own. But in post-ISIS Iraq, volunteering can quickly become an act of rebellion.
17/04/1938m 18s

New season: The Rebels. Starting April 17

We've traveled far away to bring you stories that hit close to home. This season, we follow people who break the rules and challenge what's normal, wherever they are.
10/04/191m 53s


Two sisters attempt to use a 19th century novelist to outwit modern Pakistani restrictions on women. And a war reporter discovers the power of drawing room comedy to understand her own family. (And warning: This episode has explicit language.)
11/07/1846m 2s

War Poems

Taliban poetry. An Afghan cooking show. The US military needs a better weapon. Up comes the perfect person for the job.
03/07/1846m 18s


A trashy daytime talk show in Argentina does the unthinkable. It becomes a forum for feminism. How this happened and what it changed.
29/06/1832m 23s

Ukraine vs. Fake News

Today, we revisit an episode from last season. Fake news from Russia helped spark a real war in Ukraine. What can Ukraine's fight against fake news teach the US?
27/06/1828m 17s

Ghana's Parent Trap

Kids are starting school at younger and younger ages. This week, one country's bold experiment to change how it teaches young children. And why it had to hide that change from their parents.
20/06/1835m 42s

The Apology Broker

We trace the journey of an apology, from Japan to the U.S., that got an unlikely broker. Along the way, she had to work out: what a sorry is, who it's for, and what makes it stick.
13/06/1839m 53s

Coming June 13th

The award-winning podcast returns with five original stories about people trying to cross a bridge from one worldview to another, even when everyone's telling them you can't get there from here
05/06/182m 30s

The Refugee's Dating Coach

A Syrian refugee in Berlin hopes to find love but is stumped by German dating codes and is terrified of crossing the line between flirting and harassing. A professional 'flirt coach' steps in to be his guide. (For photos of Sophia and Aktham:
25/09/1738m 45s

Om Alone In India

A day of yoga in the US. A yoga war in India. A court case in California and why the Indian government is watching it. A story about the poses that bind us. (Tell us about yourself. Fill out our survey:
18/09/1731m 15s

Anna In Somalia

A man is trapped in a remote prison. And he's trapped in his own mind. Until he hears a knock on the wall.... and words from another time and place.
12/09/1730m 22s

American Surrogate

A Chinese mom hires an American surrogate to carry her baby. Each needs something from the other that is hard to admit. The next 9 months will be a crash course in transcontinental communication. And the meaning of family.
05/09/1741m 55s

The Congo We Listen To

It made headlines worldwide: Hundreds of women raped in one Congolese village. But when one researcher arrives in town, something feels off. (Note: This episode contains descriptions of violence.)
28/08/1740m 21s

Ukraine vs. Fake News

Fake news from Russia helped spark a real war in Ukraine. What can Ukraine's fight against fake news teach the US?
21/08/1728m 26s

Brazil In Black And White

Two radically different ways of seeing race come into sudden conflict in Brazil, provoking a national conversation about who is Black? And who is not Black enough?
14/08/1731m 26s

Introducing Rough Translation

Travel with us. Each week we go to a new country to hear a story that says something about what's happening in the United States. Subscribe now.
04/08/173m 28s
Heart UK