238
May 30, 2003

Lost in Translation

Stories of what can and cannot be translated. A short, non-athletic, bespectacled East Asian studies major who couldn't make his high school basketball team finds himself in the NBA as the personal translator for the first-ever Chinese pro basketball superstar, Yao Ming. Plus, a Palestinian man teaches Hebrew classes in the Gaza strip to Palestinians eager to learn news from the other side of the checkpoint.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with producer Alex Blumberg about going on a date with a woman from Russia. Even though she spoke perfect English, the night was a misunderstanding, because they each had different ideas of what is meant by the words "good date." (7 minutes)

The Chasm Between Comedy And Music

Why is it that karaoke machines only have songs on them? If what they do is take a version of a public performance and allow the rest of us to give our own interpretations of the material, why aren't there other options, like the "you talkin to me?" scene from Taxi Driver, or Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Jonathan Goldstein and producer Starlee Kine find out why when they go to a karaoke club that has, along with all the songs, comedy routines for people to perform. (11 minutes)

Star Of Bethlehem

Very few Palestinians speak Hebrew, and very few Israelis speak Arabic, even though most Palestinians and Israelis live a short drive from one another. Nancy Updike has this story about Nasser Laham, a Palestinian TV journalist in Bethlehem who has a nightly show where he translates Israeli broadcasts into Arabic. It's a very popular show in Bethlehem, but it's complicated speaking your enemy's language. (19 minutes)

Translating For The Very, Very, Very, Very Tall

The story of a not-very-tall, not-very-athletic man—Colin Pine—who becomes a minor celebrity in the NBA, as the translator for one of the most famous rookies in basketball history: The first Chinese player ever to go number one in the draft, Yao Ming. Reporter Jesse Hardman tells his story. (17 minutes)
Serial Season Three is here. Listen Now