Trevor Noah on the Power of Language

Trevor Noah, the South African comedian and current host of The Daily Show, reads from his recently released memoir, ‘Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood‘, on the power of language.

Noah speaks six languages; in this excerpt from an interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross he discusses how his mother used language to navigate her way out of difficult or awkward situations, and how he, growing up mixed-race in a society that remains very racially charged, learned to do the same. He quickly learned the power that his ability to understanding and communicate in different languages gave him.

“My color didn’t change,” he said, “but I could change [their] perception of my color.”

 

 

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  1. Mick Canning says

    A very interesting point. I suppose it should be fairly obvious, but I don’t think it had ever occurred to me.

    1. Bob R says

      That was exactly my reaction. But hearing Noah share his stories was nonetheless very illuminating.

      1. Mick Canning says

        Indeed. Again, it goes to show just how important communication is in the world.

  2. paula graham says

    Brilliant…I am always so envious of folk saying the right thing at the right moment, for me the right answer always comes in the middle of the night. Language..yes, a powerful tool, for the good and for the bad. Super post, but not everyone can speak many languages, making it a curse…if only we all could speak the same language, a lot of pain and mistrust might disappear overnight. Alas.

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