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Bonus Video: Words

Monday, August 09, 2010 - 11:00 PM

Still from 'Words' (Everynone/Youtube)

Words have the power to shape the way we think and feel. In this stunning video, filmmakers Will Hoffman and Daniel Mercadante bandy visual wordplay into a moving exploration of language set to an original score by Keith Kenniff.

Listen to our Words show.


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Comments [63]

Nicole Boostrom

i have uncontrollable Epilepsy. I have had brain surgery and went thru it all at Johns Hopkins. My favorite book ever to relate to it all is "My Stroke of Insights" By Jill Taylor. When I have heard this program on our local radio - WtTIPin Mn., I felt lucky to have it with me. I understood every part of. It and I can relate to all aspects of such different forms of life. I love to listen to your programs and how parts of living within this world leads to how our body works and our brain controls it and let's us see it all.
Your program is my favorite, and I Thank- you very much for sharing the info with such friendly people. Nothing like Drs or Scientists speak! Love your show!

Nov. 22 2015 03:07 PM
Pablo from Chinatown, NY

To me this video simply says "its a wonderful world" under the guise of its premise to represent words. Words have to amount to a concept. The condition of suspended cuteness with which this video approaches the image does not compare to the curiosity and intelligent grit of its counterpart.
I HEART Radiolab.

Nov. 22 2015 11:40 AM
Annie Stratton from Vermont

Thank you.

Nov. 21 2015 07:46 PM
Ron burtonz from New England

Very nice little film, but compared to the broadcast, just a blip.

Jul. 20 2014 07:29 PM
andrea from glenwood springs, co


Jul. 20 2014 07:02 PM
TAO from Big Sky MT

well done

Mar. 30 2013 11:39 PM

Here is the version Andrew's talking about:

His mind's not in the gutter, he just found the unedited version that you're not seeing here. Give the guy a break.

Sep. 11 2012 05:12 PM
sazesa from Arkansas

I don't know what the heck Andrew is talking about--the scene with the couple goes with the word "break"--as in "break up." Obviously, he's the one calling attentio to the very things he wants his daughter to ignore. Think before you speak, man.

Apr. 25 2012 08:37 AM

have to agree, get your mind out of the gutter. honestly, with a bit of creativity (and sometimes none!) ANYTHING can be turned into a pornographic thought - if you wish it to turn to that. I thought the movie was lovely adjunct to the podcast to how we sometimes take sounds for granted

and Andrew...anything can me made lewd -even your name - it is your intelligence that guides the path you would take.

Jul. 27 2011 03:38 PM
Chloe Henochowicz

Andrew, get your head out of the gutter, the light bulb "blew" out.

May. 08 2011 05:25 PM
dave youngdahl from chattanooga TN

the video was (obviously) a good follow up for the podcast, but even so, I did not "get it" until the hairdryer, plate, karate chop describe "break" and I got the sensation that I was understanding. Form then on I felt impelled to verbalize (internally) all of the connections. It must mean something that it took until that point before I saw what the video was doing. I had not seen the connection between the trumpeter and the candles... it was lost, until I went back.

Jan. 14 2011 01:06 AM

Take it easy, Andrew. To quote Ellen from her Aug. 16 post, "you found the "Director's Cut" on the Everynone You Tube channel. [...] -- they will be replacing it with the Radiolab/NPR version so that others don't have the experience that you had"

Oct. 09 2010 02:07 AM
Andrew Wright from Colorado

I saw a version of this and was taken by its use of imagery and translation from one to the next.  I thought it to be very creative. Because I film commercially and shoot similar content, I wanted to share it with my 12 year old daughter so she could see a creative approach of how images can work and tie together.  I thought it would make for a great discussion on the creative process.  Thanks to the video shown, I spent the next 30 minutes having to have a talk about what was going on at :33 (blowing). Thanks Radiolab for unknowingly changing out the video to be pornographic, not putting up any warning about the material and for exposing a 12 year old to imagery she really didn't need to see or question.  If this is how you do things over there  then I have two words for you - can you guess them?


Oct. 06 2010 02:00 AM
Tom Dykas from StL


Sep. 21 2010 10:02 AM
wowzers from St. Louis, MO

I finally figured out the video with the series of splits. My favorite scene was the two people breaking up on the bed. It was as though the creators of this video stole a scene from my life and inserted it into the video. I love radiolab.

Sep. 21 2010 05:38 AM
Eva from Ithaca ny

hay its Taughannock falls i live near there

Sep. 12 2010 11:13 AM
Remy C. from CT

Everyone walks by the door but nobody looks in.

Sep. 07 2010 02:17 PM
alexis from toronto, ontario

love how we got to figure it out! i picked it up at "play" but getting the other words took some fun guesswork - "oh - it's break!!". witty and beautiful, made the day feel more magical.

Sep. 05 2010 12:20 PM

I love the way the pictures take you on a walk and the path is so clear you don't even wonder how you got from here to there, you even find yourself smiling and knowing what the next word picture will be~thank you.

Sep. 02 2010 08:37 PM
Katy from SD, CA

You're like the booty-caller that I'm in love with and always waiting for a call from, 'cause when you call it is good, but you call so infrequently. You guys should set an astronomical goal to release a new full episode every week. Then, I won't have to stare longingly at my phone (Radiolab podcast section of my itunes) waiting for you.

Sep. 02 2010 04:42 PM
Sam from Washington - West Coast

I live on the West Coast. A buddy introduced me to Radio Lab, and I loved it. So I donated, and a warm and fuzzy feeling appeared in my gut. I've listened to them all, and my friend and I wait on the edge of our seats for the next episodes. Keep up the great show guys.

Sep. 01 2010 04:02 PM

What a treat! I agree with Amanda. I had my epiphany on the broken bone, and it marked a seismic shift in the way I watched the video. Beautiful piece, but the powerfulness of the video was mostly in the way my experience of it changed once my brain stopped taking it as images and started to interpret it as words.

***** Spoilers Below ***** (if you can call it that)

Kerstin, it may not translate well to another language, because though the images are universal, they are tied together by a stream of basic English words. One word will repeat as the meaning changes from clip to clip, then there will be a slight shift to a different word, which will then walk you through a whole new set of situations. It starts with the word "PLAY." Play the tape, school play, kids playing, a coach explaining a play, play ball, etc.

The incredible thing about it is that you don't notice that at first. Even though it is called "words," you watch it and just experience the images until something fires in your brain and you stop waiting for someone to say the words to you, and start looking for the words in the images.

Aug. 17 2010 02:22 PM
Tom O'Brien

Can't add much to what has been posted: Smart; Funny; Talented; Beautiful!

Aug. 17 2010 01:49 PM

I found it to be a beautiful work of art.

It took me about five seconds to catch on from the beginning. The transitions between the thoughts/"words" were seamless for me, and I felt the similarities and ambiguities with the wordplay.

Aug. 17 2010 01:36 PM

I just don´t get it! I am not a native speaker. Please explain it to me. Thank you very much

Aug. 17 2010 05:29 AM

That was a great video, I just loved it. It took me a moment to catch on but once I did, I just started laughing and crying. It was just so funny and beautiful to me the way words can have all these different meanings. Very entertaining and beautiful.

Aug. 17 2010 03:15 AM
Random Antonym

This piece is spectacular, especially as an accompaniment to the radio piece.

Interesting that, by my count, eight of the nine words are active verbs.

I'm curious as to whether that was a conscious decision or came about naturally given the medium. If the latter is true, (and given the proliferation of video as communication) what does that mean for the future of our words. Will all our words be symbols for active verbs? What about adjectives!?

In any case, bravo.

Aug. 16 2010 09:54 PM
Admiral Elk

I have nine words. Anyone else?

Aug. 16 2010 05:58 PM

@Chris Hartbarger,

Chris, you found the "Director's Cut" on the Everynone You Tube channel. Thanks for the note -- they will be replacing it with the Radiolab/NPR version so that others don't have the experience that you had!

Aug. 16 2010 02:09 PM
Chris Hartbarger

Thank you Radiolab. A word of caution, the youtube version is not "family friendly".Unfortunately, I found out too late. I was tring to share a beautiful moment with my wife and 15 year-old daughter and i thought the video appearance (full-screen)wuold be
enhanced by using youtube. Their version
icludes two very different images for
"blow" and "fly". PARENTS BEWARE
Thanks again for your brilliant program,

Aug. 16 2010 11:56 AM
claudia intama

ถึงแม้ว่าความหมายอาจไม่ตรงกับคำแต่งๆที่อยู่ในภาษาไทย เราก็เชื่อว่าทุกคนที่ดูเรื่องสั้น words จะประทับใจกับภาพที่สวยงามและความรู้สึกที่ฝ่างไว้กับรูปต่างๆด้วยค่ะ ขื่นขอบวิดีโดนี้และ radiiolab ตลอดไปค่ะ

Aug. 15 2010 10:54 PM
Anthony Lee

Hello Jad and Robert,

"As usual" is probably not the right word, but every episode you make is so wonderfully inspiring. Your recent episode on "Words" though has gotten me so involved that I actually blogged about it.

Blogging by definition is not the same as fully researched journalism. However, I do try to keep things as accurate as possible. Therefore, I have made it a habit of mine to contact those I write about in hopes that they find what I wrote acceptable - and point out any glaring errors. In this spirit, I am writing you to:

a.) humbly point you to my site in hopes that you may find some times to read the synopsis and maybe even some of my reflections.
b.) again thank you for having made such a wonderful show!



Aug. 14 2010 10:12 PM


Aug. 14 2010 05:18 PM
Sondra Cox

Pure pleasure.

Aug. 14 2010 04:16 PM

Radio Lab is literature. It will inspire 1000s of kids to become scientists.

Aug. 14 2010 10:24 AM

I'm not going to lie - it looked like a series of nice, but overall random pictures (the kind of thing you would see in a car commercial or something) until someone explained to me what was going on. Nice work.

Aug. 13 2010 04:15 PM

Love RadioLab! I had heard the story of the lady who had the stroke and she was amazing when she told the story! SOOO Descriptive - her words made me realize how awesome it is to be able to communicate. I wish RadioLab had a show every week!

Aug. 13 2010 03:55 PM
seoulrain's me2DAY

서울비의 알림...

(영상) Words— 단어는 사고와 감정을 형성한다. RadioLab의 “Words” 에피소드에 추가된 보너스 영상. 제작: Will Hoffman & Daniel Mercadante. (추. 라디오랩 사이트에 재밌는 거 엄청 많음 ㅋ)...

Aug. 13 2010 02:14 AM

Imágenes que "hablan" por sí solas, que conectadas cobran otro significado, que juegan con lo cotidiano, con lo absurdo, con lo bello... con la vida... donde no bastan las palabras... Creativo, buena fotografía, bien editado, excelente música. Me emocionó y dejó "palabras visuales" en la cabeza... En fin, como para compartirlo ; )

Aug. 12 2010 11:02 PM

Beautifully executed. Nice content. RadioLab, I love you.

Aug. 12 2010 10:31 PM

It's a very pretty video, but I'm wondering what exactly makes it about "words"?

Watch that video again but instead of it being called "Words", imagine it's called "Youth".

Or "Time", or "Space", or "Desire".

Any of them work! Have we all been an unknowing participant in a priming experiment?

Aug. 12 2010 08:08 PM

So powerful. It brought tears to my eyes.

Aug. 12 2010 01:47 PM

amazing!! i love your show. i've been listening non-stop the past couple of days! i used to listen a few years ago, but somehow forgot about it. now im going back to every sing episode i missed! thank you for being so inspiring and for teaching me something new every time.

Aug. 12 2010 12:12 PM
Shannon Owens

I absolutely LOVED this. Thank you so much for posting.

Aug. 12 2010 10:39 AM
Hollie Kenniff


Keith Kenniff (aka Goldmund, Helios and Mint Julep) scored this piece for Radiolab. His website is He has an online store. He has composed four albums of piano music under the moniker Goldmund.

Aug. 12 2010 07:02 AM

I got so much joy out of that 3:00 minute video. So well done!

Aug. 12 2010 03:58 AM

Who scored this and where can I get the song to this amazing video?

Aug. 11 2010 10:28 PM

Very good observation Amanda.

What struck me at first were the sounds that went with everything we know but somehow i forgot that I hear. The sounds that become white noise and we dismiss. To me this was eye opening and a poem of everyday sounds detached from their meaning when I 'turned off' my thinking.

Well done.

Aug. 11 2010 08:09 PM

I just clicked on the podcast and went about my business, not realizing it had video until most of the way through. It's a completely different animal w/out the video. More than a little disturbing.

Aug. 11 2010 01:03 PM

Wonderfully done!

Aug. 11 2010 02:55 AM
Dorothy Parma

Beautiful. Just beautiful. It took me a while to catch on to the wordplay, too.

Aug. 10 2010 09:35 PM

Taughannock Falls in Ithaca makes an appearance! Woo Hoo!

Aug. 10 2010 03:37 PM

Amazing. I would love to see how someone who does not share the English Language would interpret the film. Does the word for space the in Japanese have the same double meanings as it does in English? How would a deaf person interpret the images as their language is entirely visually based they may not make the same connections between images.

Aug. 10 2010 12:56 PM
Ken Lyman

Pretty neat.

Aug. 10 2010 12:21 PM

Incredible how this film demonstrates what the woman who had a stroke said about her progression from languagelessness to "recovery." At first the film appears to be a series of lovely clips, and you enjoy them for their visual (and emotional) qualities. But yes, as Amber says, once you get the word play you lose some of the wonder you felt previously.

Aug. 10 2010 09:36 AM

Very pretty... wondering how they got all of those shots, but cool :)

Aug. 10 2010 09:24 AM

So precious, thank you!

Aug. 10 2010 09:09 AM

Its not everyday you get to see something so elegant. Loved every second of it.

Aug. 10 2010 08:15 AM
Jack Damn


Aug. 10 2010 07:23 AM

Beautiful and inspiring, captures the simple beauty in life. love it.

Aug. 10 2010 02:28 AM

Breathtaking. It was at about 1:30 before I caught onto the wordplay, and then I couldn't focus on anything else.

Aug. 09 2010 11:46 PM

Woah. I need to watch that a few times

Aug. 09 2010 11:22 PM

thanks for sharing something beautiful.

Aug. 09 2010 11:14 PM

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