Rough Translation artwork

Rough Translation

90 episodes - English - Latest episode: about 2 months ago - ★★★★★ - 7.1K ratings

Our expectations of work are changing. Whether you're a cubicle-dweller, side gig hustler, or blue-collar breadwinner, we're all experiencing some major changes to the idea of what a workplace should look and feel like. Can the culture of work change too?

In this latest season of Rough Translation, we'll be traveling the globe to see how people are shifting their relationship to their jobs. From the mysterious man who inspired a "slacker revolution" in China to an American trans woman trucker changing the rules of the road, and from to the new codes of small talk in the Brazilian metaverse, to the ways that a war can change how Ukrainians look at work (and how work can change how they see a war). We explore what happens when international workplace norms are challenged both by local customs and homegrown rule-breakers.

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The Cat Must Still Be Fed

August 03, 2022 22:21 - 39 minutes - 36.6 MB

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.

[email protected]: Miles To Go Before I'm Me

July 13, 2022 16:18 - 31 minutes - 29.1 MB

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.

[email protected]: Home Is Where The Hustle Is

July 06, 2022 19:00 - 26 minutes - 24.4 MB

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.

You'[email protected]: The Right Persona for the Job

June 29, 2022 16:38 - 33 minutes - 31.1 MB

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.

[email protected]: Epic Fails & Failure Epics

June 22, 2022 17:00 - 30 minutes - 27.8 MB

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.

[email protected]: Your Country's Brand Is Escape, But You Can't

June 15, 2022 18:48 - 41 minutes - 37.9 MB

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?

[email protected]: When Eating at Your Desk Is Forbidden

June 08, 2022 16:00 - 30 minutes - 28.2 MB

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.

[email protected]: A Song for the Exhausted

June 01, 2022 20:15 - 40 minutes - 37.3 MB

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?

New Season: @Work. Starting June 1.

May 25, 2022 04:00 - 2 minutes - 2.53 MB

We're back @Work. The new season of Rough Translation will tell surprising stories from workplaces and work cultures around the world.

The Good Russians

April 27, 2022 19:00 - 20 minutes - 18.3 MB

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.

The Scarf and the Snuffbox

April 15, 2022 21:00 - 17 minutes - 16 MB

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.

Letter of Unhappiness

March 30, 2022 18:15 - 15 minutes - 14.5 MB

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.

The Culture Front

March 15, 2022 19:00 - 40 minutes - 37.2 MB

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.

Fighting Words In Ukraine

March 02, 2022 20:09 - 31 minutes - 28.7 MB

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.

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

February 16, 2022 13:00 - 50 minutes - 46.4 MB

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.

May We Have This Dance?

December 22, 2021 22:35 - 43 minutes - 40.1 MB

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?

Moms In Translation

December 15, 2021 10:00 - 41 minutes - 38.4 MB

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.

Tasting At A Distance

December 08, 2021 19:14 - 33 minutes - 30.6 MB

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.

Home/Front: Marla's List

July 10, 2021 00:30 - 49 minutes - 44.9 MB

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.

Home/Front: Marla's War

June 30, 2021 08:00 - 34 minutes - 31.6 MB

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.

Home/Front: Rebels In The Valley

June 23, 2021 08:00 - 29 minutes - 27 MB

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?

Home/Front: Battle Borne

June 16, 2021 09:36 - 40 minutes - 36.9 MB

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.

Home/Front: Battle Lines

June 09, 2021 08:00 - 39 minutes - 36.4 MB

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.

Home/Front: Battle Rattle

June 02, 2021 08:00 - 40 minutes - 36.9 MB

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.


May 26, 2021 08:00 - 23 minutes - 21.7 MB

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.

War Poems Revisited

May 05, 2021 19:02 - 47 minutes - 43.1 MB

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.

How To Speak Bad English

April 21, 2021 22:08 - 34 minutes - 31.9 MB

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.

Liberté, Égalité, French Fries... And Couscous

April 07, 2021 21:57 - 50 minutes - 46 MB

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.

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

March 26, 2021 18:19 - 26 minutes - 24.5 MB

In the wake of the shootings in Atlanta, a Korean-American writer reconnects with her own family.

Welcome To The Vaccination Club

March 10, 2021 22:04 - 21 minutes - 20 MB

Two very different approaches to wooing vaccine skeptics. And how a little FOMO can go a long way.

Rewriting The Travel Guidebook With Nanjala Nyabola

February 25, 2021 03:35 - 27 minutes - 24.9 MB

What happens when your guidebook isn't written with you in mind? Nanjala Nyabola on her new book: Travelling While Black.

Boxing Back

February 10, 2021 22:01 - 27 minutes

Your stories and creative solutions to not quite fitting in.

Our Boxes, Ourselves

January 27, 2021 21:59 - 27 minutes - 25 MB

From Montréal to Edinburgh, and from São Paulo to Taipei: your stories about belonging, or longing to just be.

We (Still) Don't Say That

December 16, 2020 17:09 - 50 minutes - 46.3 MB

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.

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

December 09, 2020 19:17 - 29 minutes - 26.9 MB

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 exis...

Welcome To The New World

November 25, 2020 05:30 - 33 minutes - 30.5 MB

What can a young refugee who's survived a war teach a novelist about writing young adult adventure?

All Eyes On US

November 12, 2020 02:28 - 39 minutes - 35.8 MB

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.

Presenting 'Louder Than A Riot': Lyrics On Trial

November 06, 2020 15:53 - 34 minutes - 31.1 MB

On this bonus drop, we feature an episode from the NPR podcast Louder Than A Riot called "Lyrics on Trial."

Radical Rudeness

October 28, 2020 19:19 - 46 minutes - 42.1 MB

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?

The Loneliness Of The Climate Change Christian

October 14, 2020 22:21 - 36 minutes - 33.7 MB

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.

How To Be An Anti-Casteist

September 30, 2020 21:30 - 34 minutes - 31.2 MB

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?

Dream Boy And The Poison Fans

September 16, 2020 17:25 - 36 minutes - 33.8 MB

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.

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

September 09, 2020 19:29 - 1 minute - 1.51 MB

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.

El Hilo: Walking To Venezuela

July 22, 2020 19:50 - 30 minutes - 28.3 MB

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.

Hello, Neighbor

July 08, 2020 19:58 - 24 minutes - 22 MB

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.

So Long, Black Pete

June 24, 2020 20:27 - 30 minutes - 28.3 MB

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.

The Global Legacy of George Floyd

June 10, 2020 17:53 - 29 minutes - 27 MB

Five personal stories from five continents on the global impact of George Floyd.

From Niqab To N95

May 27, 2020 17:36 - 20 minutes - 18.9 MB

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.

Hotel Corona

May 13, 2020 21:12 - 34 minutes - 31.6 MB

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.

American Surrogate: 30 Months Later

April 29, 2020 20:06 - 47 minutes - 43.4 MB

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.

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