In This Episode
Names and Second Language Maintenance Amongst 2nd Gen Immigrants
Host Ahmed Ali Akbar has always had trouble getting people to say his name “correctly.” Why? This episode explores how second generation immigrants choose names, and how a name can impact our lives in more ways than we’d think.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Why did you name me Ahmed?
Waheed Akbar: On your mother’s side, most of the men’s names started with Ahmed. So, if their name, just to use an example, was Athar, they would be named Ahmed Athar Usmani. So that is where we took Ahmed from.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: This is my father, Waheed Akbar. He immigrated to the United States from Pakistan in the seventies with my late mother. So have you heard how other people say my name?
Waheed Akbar: When you were born, we were concerned how your name is going to be pronounced differently by different people.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: How do you say my name?
[various speakers]: Ahmed. / I say Ah-med. / Uh, A-hmed. [laughter]. / It’s an easy name to say for me. Aah-med. / Well, I’m not sure I quite have it right even now. / The way that I pronounce my friend’s name is Aah-med. / I have known Ahmed Ali Akbar for a long time.
Waheed Akbar: Can you say Ahmed?
[clip of child]: Aah-med?
Waheed Akbar: Can you say that one more time?
[clip of child]: Aah-med.
[various speakers]: Aah-med. / Ah-med. / Ahmed Ali Akbar. / Ahh-med. / That’s how you pronounce it.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: For many people. Ahmed is a confusing name and so is the way I see it. Hearing that name, many people assume my native language is Arabic or that I’m from the Middle East. The name Ahmed does originally come from Arabic. It means the praised one, and it’s related to the name Mohammed. But it’s now globally shared by all sorts of cultures that don’t speak Arabic, like my family, who speak Urdu and Punjabi and have roots in the Indian subcontinent. So sure in the language it originates from. It’s pronounced Ah-med. But by the time it arrived in my parent’s native Pakistan, the pronunciation changed to Aah-med. Then when it came to America, it changed again. I actually don’t mind people saying my name in all sorts of different ways. I know I’ve messed up plenty of other names, even when I tried really hard to say it right. But what I do mind is people avoiding saying my name because they think they’ll say it wrong. And what I found is when I tell people my name is Ahmed, they pause and say, I really want to get it right. And then they usually can’t. Why is that? Can I help people say my name right if they want to? Well, let’s talk to some experts and find out. This is Radiolingo from Duolingo and Crooked Media. And I’m your host, Ahmed Ali Akbar, as if you didn’t hear that name a dozen times already. Episode one, What’s In A Name. [music break] So a little bit about me before we get into it. I’m a James Beard Award winning journalist and podcast host. In my free time, I spend way too much time thinking about linguistics. Radiolingo, this show, was cooked up by the world’s favorite way to learn a language. Duolingo and the folks at Crooked Media. Together, we’re going to explore how language shapes our world and how our world shapes languages. And to kick things off, I wanted to start with something really close to my heart. Can I help people say my name correctly? And in answering this question and every question posed in the series, we’ll use science, history and linguistics to provide you with the tools to understand how language shapes our world. So, Sandy, you know you know what we’re talking about right today?
Sandy Girard: I do. And I woke up with anxiety about it. [laughter]
Ahmed Ali Akbar: This is Sandy Girard. She’s executive vice president of programing at Crooked Media and she’s more upset about saying my name wrong than I am.
Sandy Girard: So I thought your name was pronounced Ahmed. More like med in the back. Like the spelling. And then you and I had that really awkward tutorial where I finally had to, like, fess up to you. And I think our third meeting where I said, honestly, I don’t know why, but I have this, like, brain disconnect when it comes to saying your name. I just get anxious about it.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: This experience Sandy is describing of checking her speech production for errors as a technical term in linguistics, monitoring, it means paying special attention to the language that you’re producing. It’s something we all do, especially when learning a language, and we self-monitor whenever we stumble on something, even in our native language. And of course, a new name in a different language can be extra hard.
Sandy Girard: My tongue gets like swells in my mouth. [laugh] And so I know I’m always pronouncing it incorrectly, and I hate that because I know how annoying that is.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: You see, Sandy has a complicated story when it comes to her name too.
Sandy Girard: My name is Sandy Girard, which most people who meet me are immediately confused because I’m Korean-American, and so Sandy Girard is not usually what they expect. But that’s actually not my birth name. My birth name is Min Sun. And when my family immigrated to the U.S. when I was five, my uncle and aunt who had been living in the U.S., decided that all of the cousins needed Americanized names or American names. And so, like one by one, we were all stripped of Korean identity, at least in name.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Nobody in your family calls you by your Korean name?
Sandy Girard: There was only one auntie who would call me by my Korean name, and she’s the oldest of the family, and she always called everyone by their Korean name. But she’s kind of gangster like that. She didn’t care.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: When I heard this story. I began to understand why Sandy was so intent on getting my name right. Because, honestly, that’s a rare quality. She’s one of the few people who has been super upfront about not knowing how to say it and wanting to improve. And so Sandy is essentially the spark for this episode’s mission. Can I help non-Urdu speaking people to say my name the way I say it if they want to put in the effort? And how have other immigrants and English speaking countries grappled with maintaining their first names in a new place? Let’s tackle that last question first. [music break] First names are fundamental in our development and growth as individual people. And that’s something that I’m thinking about a lot right now. [baby gurgling] I have a daughter. She’s four months as of this recording. And according to our linguists, this is the month she starts recognizing her name, which is way earlier than I expected. Some studies show that by five months, babies begin recognizing when their name is being mispronounced. The name I picked for her, Aziza, is fairly easy for English speakers to pronounce, but it’s also a fairly traditional Pakistani Muslim name. I understand, though, why so many immigrant families have opted for Americanized names like Sandy’s did. It helps to establish a new identity and prevents the discomfort of having to correct people. But other people feel differently. Like Somali poet Warsan Shire, who famously said, give your daughters difficult names, names that command the full use of the tongue. It used to be that people would ask me if they could just call me Armand or Albert. But now the idea is brewing that there’s beauty in embracing the challenge of a name like Ahmed. With all this in my head, I wanted to reach out to my former BuzzFeed colleague Elamin, who wrote an essay about his daughter’s name titled A Father’s Letter to an Infant Daughter: ‘I wanted my last name to be a burden’ and when we sat down to chat, it turns out he’s got name problems, too. I asked him first, tell me your full name.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud: Asking me my full name is like a dangerous proposition because I come from a patrilineal family tradition. Like, I come from a place where I can give you eight grandfathers back. But I will give it to you. Which is [lists full patrilineal name] however, we’ll just go with Elamin Abdelmahmoud. The abbreviated version.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: I was nodding my head to that. [laughter]
Elamin Abdelmahmoud: [both speaking] You have to develop a rhythm to it. Otherwise you’ll never memorize it. It’s like you got to get a trick and everybody has a trick. A, my trick is like, make it like a little rap.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Elamin is an immigrant who arrived in Canada from Sudan, and his daughter was born in Canada. So to him, her name became an opportunity to symbolize that journey. So what’s the name?
Amna Eliot Abdelmahmoud: Amna Eliot Abdelmahmoud.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Elamin is a podcasting pro, by the way. He has a show called Pop Chat on the CBC. So we set him out on some intrepid reporting to his own daughter.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud: Do you like your name?
Amna Eliot Abdelmahmoud: Yes.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud: What do you like about your name?
Amna Eliot Abdelmahmoud: I like that. There’s two ways in the sound of the A and I like the word Amna, it means safe in Arabic.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud: Yeah, it does.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: I love her so much and I haven’t even met her. But back to Amna’s name. Elamin told me it was actually his wife who picked it.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud: She was the person who was like, what about this name? What about Amna? It was a name that she saw somewhere and she didn’t know what it meant. And I sort of like looked at her and teared up because Amna means safe and sound. And Amna, our daughter, is is is sort of our second pregnancy. Our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. And so it kind of felt poetic and it felt like a bit of a dream of like, yeah, this is something that we’re pursuing and it’s like a wish, you know, it’s a wish for your next child to be safe and sound.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Even at her young age, it’s clear that Amna feels just as strongly about her name as her father does. And the interesting thing is, she’s already embarked on the burden of correcting people.
Amna Eliot Abdelmahmoud: One day when I was going to gym I think, I told Miss Smith, My name is actually not Ah-mna. My name is Amna.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: And what did Miss Smith say when you said my name is not Ah-mna my name is Amna?
Amna Eliot Abdelmahmoud: She said, thank you for reminding me. It’s always good to remind people what your name is, because every person’s name is special.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: She is so brave for doing this. Correcting people is a hard game. Personally, I’m usually totally fine with good enough, as long as they’re not saying Ack-med or Ah-amed, Ahmed is fine. I mean, I probably can’t pronounce Elamin’s full name very well myself. The important thing is taking pride in your name. That’s why I always say, Ahmed, even though other people, even my friends, may say it differently.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud: Can I just say about your name? I am actively resisting the temptation to be like, do you even know how to say your own name? [laugh] Because I want to say it for you. Don’t you know it’s like Ahmed Ali Akbar, you know?
Ahmed Ali Akbar: This is such a common thing for me. So many Arabic speakers tell me I’m saying my own name wrong. But because Ahmed is an Arabic origin name, there are people who think the Arabic pronunciation is the only correct pronunciation. And maybe Elamin is one of those people. Could I ask you could you try to say it the way that I say it? How would you do you can you give it a shot?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud: Oof. I like try to imagine my mouth making those sounds and then immediately my brain is like, no, no, no, abort missions. Let me let me try this again. [deep breath] No, I can’t do it. Ahmed. Ahmed Ali Akbar. [music break]
Ahmed Ali Akbar: So part of how you say a name is the culture you’re in, what you’re used to. But I mean, saying his mouth couldn’t make those sounds had me thinking, are there sounds in my name that some people just physically can’t say? Could that be the issue? To answer these questions, I’m calling up an expert after the break. [music break] Can non-native speakers successfully pick up these sounds in their adulthood?
Sabeena Shaikh: 100%, yes. My name is Sabeena Shaikh. I am a Ph.D. student in the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University. And I also teach language classes in Hindi Urdu.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: In her classroom, Sabeena has plenty of language learners who struggle to make new sounds involved in learning a language. When babies babble, they’re just testing out a bunch of new sounds. And these sounds are the beginnings of what linguists refer to as phonemes, the individual sounds we use in our language. As we get older, it becomes harder to make the phonemes that don’t occur in our native languages. It turns out Urdu has a lot of phonemes that are difficult for English speakers to hear. And so what I say, Ahmed. If you don’t speak Urdu, you literally may not hear the difference in sounds. Sounds that were heavily influenced by other languages throughout history.
Sabeena Shaikh: We are heavily influenced by Persian. And that’s because there were Arab merchants, you know, pre-Islamic Arab merchants who were making their way to South Asia and use Persian as their their lingua franca. And from that Persian, we also have obviously the Arabic alphabet and Arabic words that were coming in from a variety of different sources because South Asia was influenced by Islam from such an early part of our our history. There are obviously many names that are Arabic names. They are Koranic names or like biblical names.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Though my name is derived from the Arabic language. It was adopted in the Indian subcontinent in places like Punjab, where my family is from. And because of that, it changed. This happens all the time in all sorts of cultures. Miguel, Mikael and Michael are the same name in three different languages. And that middle consonant is whatever phoning that language used to approximate another sound. In Arabic, they distinguish between a hard H and a soft H, a huuh or huh. In Urdu, we don’t distinguish. And that’s confusing for Arabic speakers. But it’s not just Arabic speakers who mess up my name. It’s often people whose native language is English. For English speakers, though, it’s another sound they’re stuck on. Not so much the H as the D, because the D is a different kind of D.
Sabeena Shaikh: But when we say dog, what’s happening is our tongue is sitting behind our front two teeth, dog. And that’s the duh that we use in a lot of different words in Urdu as well. But more often, like in your name, we use the dental duh. And what’s happening there is your tongue is going all the way between your top front teeth and your bottom front teeth. And that’s how you get that the sound.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: And that sound, that phoneme, not so easy for my English speaking friends to emulate. Over the years, I’ve tried to develop a trick to get people to say my name. I say it’s M, like I am, and mutt, like mutt. That gets people to Ahmet. And honestly, I have to say, I do slightly prefer that to Ahmit. But that only gets us so far because of that dental D and for English speakers who don’t have the duh sound. It can take a lot of practice, but it’s helpful to start with teaching them to hear the difference. Again, English D is like duuh. My D is like duh. Duuh, duh. Sabeena had one other piece of advice that rang true for me.
Sabeena Shaikh: I think that people should pronounce names for people not based off of these preconceived notions of how they should be pronounced, but perhaps on how the person does pronounce it. Because I’ve met plenty of quote unquote “Arab Ahmeds” who call themselves Ah-med, and that is what they’re comfortable with. And I’m not going to argue with them for 10 hours and be like, no, your name is Ahmed. Can’t you pronounce it right? I’m just going to say, okay, bro, your name is Ahmed. Cool. I’m going to call you that, because it’s not only about the language, and I don’t think that language is one of those hard and fast things that doesn’t change and evolve with time. I think that we we kind of have to go with the flow.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: But we didn’t always go with the flow when it came to immigrant names. In fact, immigrants often had to do the going with the flowing, which meant many of them actually changed their name to make it easier for English speakers.
Xian Zhao: My name’s Xian Zhao. I’m a researcher, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Xian is an expert when it comes to the first names of immigrants, specifically Chinese immigrants. He’s conducted research projects that test the real life effects of having a, quote, “foreign sounding first name,” his interest in this topic stems from real life experience. When Xian and first came to the United States, he visited family in Los Angeles, including his beloved aunt who works as a masseuse, and he was shocked at the name she was going by.
Xian Zhao: Her name is Susan, [laugh] by her original name is Guiqing, which is also a very beautiful sounding name. So Susan, so she didn’t tell me, like, when I was in China, like she has this name Susan, because I feel if she told me I would laugh. I heard probably.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: You’re laughing now, you’re laughing right now. Now as you’re telling the story.
Xian Zhao: Yeah, yeah. I would laugh at her. Why you? Why you have the name Susan, it sounds so funny. So when I arrived in the U.S., like I heard of other people, other Chinese, masseuses call her Susan. I was surprised.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Xian was surprised, but he understood why they masseuses anglicized their names. They ran a customer driven business. They wanted to make the experience easy for all the English speakers who come in and use their services. But when Xian arrived at the University of Kansas, the plot thickened. He realized he was surrounded by fellow Chinese immigrants, going by English names. Why? They’re essentially in academia, a liberal universe, why they need to resort to an anglicized name? So being the good psychology student, he decided to run his first experiment, a simple survey. How many Chinese students in the psychology department anglicized their names? The results? About half. When he entered his postdoc at the University of Toronto. He continued the experiment, but this time he examined a different department, business school.
Xian Zhao: And I found that almost 80% of business school students who are Chinese students, they anglicized their name, compared with only 50% University of Kansas who are psychology majors. And my explanation is that is because professionalism in business was so strong, like people saying anglicizing the name, make them more like a business person.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: This sparked a new question, does anglicizing a Chinese name benefit you professionally? In a later experiment, he played the audio of one of his lectures for two groups of white American college students at the University of Kansas. Alongside a picture of himself. For one of the groups, he told the students the name of the instructor was Xian. So you actually you actually use your own name in your research?
Xian Zhao: Yeah, exactly. My name and my my picture.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: The second group was told the lecture came from a man named Xian who goes by Alex. At the end, he asked them questions like, to what extent did you like this instructor? Would you enroll in his class? Do you think this instructor is competent? And what, what were the results? What did you find when you compared how they liked Xian versus Alex?
Xian Zhao: Yeah. So in this study, they overall disliked Xian then Alex.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: This is big. Xian basically proved that your first name could affect the way people perceive you in a professional setting. He’s mostly tested Chinese and Arabic names in English speaking North America. But we might imagine that you can broaden this research. For example, could adopting a Greek name in a Greek university help migrant students there, too? So now he had a new question. Can you quantify the effect of this kind of name bias? He ran a field experiment where he emailed 400 white Anglo University professors all around the country. All the emails said the same thing. Hi. Next week I’ll be coming to the campus of your university. Do you have 15 minutes to meet and discuss graduate school applications? But there were two conditions. Same situation as last time. One group received emails from Xian and the other—
Xian Zhao: The same email. The only difference is there’s another sentence saying that you can call me by Alex.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Xian and randomly assigned all the faculty members to either the Xian email or the Alex email. And then he clicked send.
Xian Zhao: And I see that there is some percent difference in reply rate.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Faculty members replied more often to Alex than they did to Xian.
Xian Zhao: So Alex condition were more likely to get a reply, which means they’ve got more opportunities to talk about research and graduate school application with certain members that Xian couldn’t.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: In the real world. This means, depending on your first name alone, you may get less opportunities without even realizing it. I never try to think of my name as a burden, especially as an adult. But Xian’s proving that perhaps there are actual consequences to maintaining your foreign sounding name. Were you optimistic when you when you did this research, like did you hope to see something different or did you feel like validated, depressed?
Xian Zhao: I feel depressed. I feel depressed, I, because when people know you it goes better. People respect you. People know like you are a good person. But in certain situations, like quick meetings, like conferences, people don’t really hope to know you deeply in those situations. I worry about a real career disadvantage discrimination because of my name.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Hearing all this left me with one important question for Xian. It seems like you’re getting a lot of feedback that your name is causing challenges for you. Despite all of that, you are determined to keep your birth name, which is great. What is it that’s causing you to hold out?
Xian Zhao: My name has meanings, I got it from my parents and linked to my big extended family. It’s important to me. And also I want to say to the general public, please respect each other’s name. Try to learn how to pronounce each other’s name correctly. If you don’t ask, then just ask that person. Keep asking. And throughout that process, maybe you can build a good relationship, but friendship. And also, this is not only the burden on white Americans is everyone, including myself. Like there are so many Arabic names and friend names like Latino names I couldn’t pronounce correctly. But I would like to learn. Please teach me.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: So this all brings us back to our first question of the episode. Can I help people to pronounce my name correctly? Specifically, can I help Sandy? A willing participant, an eager student. Pronounce my name the way I do. It’s okay if she can’t say my name 100% correctly. That dental D is hard for someone who’s not encountered it at the end of a name. Just like the tones in a name like Xian are hard for me. Producing these sounds is a matter of the mouth and the muscles in the mouth. We have decades of the muscles in our mouth moving in a very specific way and definitely not moving in another way. So for those who really want to learn, I can try to train them, but it’s important to be realistic. People study languages for years and still can’t always make the tricky sounds. I asked our expert from earlier, Sabeena Shaikh, for help, and then I reported what she recommended back to Sandy Girard. So I’m going to I’m going to tell you what I learned.
Sandy Girard: You have to learn to fish so that you can teach others to fish. I’m ready.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Exactly. So she she she says what it really is, is two things. [harp sound] One is the very first problem, which is the way it’s spelled A H M E D.
Sabeena Shaikh: What I try to tell people is don’t envision the letters in your head.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: So I want you to eliminate that E from your head. Okay? Because it’s not an E like in English. [laugh]
Sandy Girard: Okay.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: That’s that’s the first thing. And the other thing that she said was that— [harp sound]
Sabeena Shaikh: I know it sounds kind of silly, but I tell them to be like a parrot. Listen to what I’m saying and show them how your tongue sticks out between your teeth. [harp sound]
Ahmed Ali Akbar: You kind of have to get used to putting your your tongue in the right position. Your tongue is at the front of your teeth. Duh duh duh.
Sandy Girard: Uh-huh, like the heavy tongue.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Well, when you say D, and look, say, say, dog. Dog.
Sandy Girard: Dog. Dog
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Where? Where in your mouth is the D?
Sandy Girard: Dog. It’s more it’s not quite in the front. It’s a little bit like I would say like a couple inches back from the front is what it feels like.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: It’s not touching the teeth, right?
Sandy Girard: Yeah. Dog.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: It’s like touching the front of like the roof of your mouth—.
Sandy Girard: The roof of my mouth.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: And so Sandy and I embark on our lesson. We take our time and we’re patient with ourselves.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: It’s actually touching the teeth. So you see what your tongue is there, but you’re not making the same sound you’re making a D duh sound.
Sandy Girard: You know, actually, Russian is like that.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Oh, really? So its called a dental D.
Sandy Girard: Oh.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: And then—
Sandy Girard: Ahmud.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: It’s closer than Amut. So I think we’re getting better. Sandy, so I want you to say I feel more optimistic from this conversation [laughter] than I have ever felt about non Urdu speakers, non Hindi speakers saying my name the way I say it.
Sandy Girard: Well, I appreciate your patience and all of the clever devices and bringing in experts to get me to a what feels like a C to be honest. A C.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: I think in terms of if this was graded on a curve, I would say probably a solid B [laughter] I would say B.
Sandy Girard: That feels generous, but I appreciate it’s appreciated. [music break]
Ahmed Ali Akbar: Sabeena Shaikh said, be like a parrot, imitate the person in front of you. Ahmed is always going to have a range of pronunciations. That’s okay. But I think what’s important to me is that people pay attention to and respect the way I say my name. It’s okay if they don’t get every single sound exactly right. I know now it’s not their fault if their brain just can’t make sense of those sounds. But to be honest, if I could help people get it closer, then I’m happier. It feels like home. When my family says my name, Ahmed is how my most loved ones say it. And I think it’s an act of love to try. Even when you’re failing. The work is worth the battle. Elamin Abdelmahmoud said it nicely.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud: I think the battle is good. Like, I think, like going through that work is good for you because names are alive. Names are not things that are dead. Names ask things of us. They ask us to remember. They ask us to think about the things that we are related to, the people we are related to, that lineage that we’re connected to.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: In the United States, there’s an attachment to pronouncing names correctly. We feel inadequate when we can’t do something right. But like baby’s babbling, we have to explore the new sounds in our mouth and be patient with one another while we learn and practice and get uncomfortable. And that’s where growth happens. Now before we go. Be like a parrot. All right. We’re going to try now. It’s Ahmed, not Amut. Ahmed. Duh, duh, duh. Look at my mouth at the front of your teeth. Not Amut. Okay. All right. We’re going to do it again with feeling. [music break] Thanks so much for listening to the very first episode of Radiolingo. I have some good news. There’s more where that came from. So here’s a sneak peek at some of our favorite moments from season one.
[vatious voices]: Very often when I talk to people, they say, well, you don’t sound like you’re from Kentucky at all. And I say, What the hell you want me to sound like, The Dukes of Hazzard, or for an older generation, Li’l Abner? / Well, there’s a famous one, zaldrizes buzdari iksos daor, and that is dragon is not a slave. / Comedies have such a hard job in terms of translating jokes from one language to the other, that what the translators for the other version do is just change a bunch of the jokes to something that that is funnier in their own language. / Languages often where transphobia or less than fully affirming attitudes toward trans people often shows up. / And there was I saw my Vietnamese friend and I said, look, I met someone. She’s Vietnamese, and I think I’m going to marry her. / When they were talking about, for example, cooking chicken, white and dark meat originated as terms to avoid mentioning breasts and limbs.
Ahmed Ali Akbar: All right. I’ll see you back here at Radiolingo next week. Till then. Radiolingo is an original podcast from Duolingo and Crooked Media I’m Ahmed Ali Akbar, your host, writer and producer. From Crooked Media, executive producers are Sandy Girard and Katie Long. From Duolingo, executive producers are Laura Macomber and Timothy Shey. This episode was produced and co-written by Mary Knauf and story edited by Lacy Roberts. Our associate producer and fact checker is Brian Semel. Our theme and original music is by Carly Bond with mixing sound design and additional music by Hannis Brown. Additional research and production support from Crooked Media’s Ari Schwartz and Duolingo’s Cindy Blanco, Emily Chiu, Alexa Fernandez and Hope Wilson. Special thanks to Crooked Media’s Danielle Jensen and Gabriella Leverette and Duolingo’s, Michaela Kron, Monica Earle and Sam Dulsimer for promotional support.