Ephraim Cross

Saturday, May 30, 1942

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Professor Ephraim Cross, from the Department of Romantic Languages, City College, discusses language and the war.

He calls the language of force the only language our enemies will understand. Cross discusses the role of language, once believed to be a divine gift of the gods, though unlike our other faculties, not a born trait. Language, he says, is a two edged tool - it can be used for truth or for a lie. He notes our ability to analyze and distinguish between truth and lies, from propaganda that is "socially refreshing" from that which confines our welfare.

We must deal with the entire world, not just ourselves. We must fight the anti-fascist war with language. Linguists must listen in on the enemy, intercept messages, interrogate prisoners, and decipher code.

He also notes the role of radio in creating communication around the world.
He mentions Chinese warriors "flocking" to lessons in Japanese language in order to "learn the language of the enemy." He also speaks of the disadvantage we have - the smaller countries who know our language while we are ignorant of theirs.

Cross states that the Nazis have used language to their own ends, and that we must also use language for freedom. The Japanese use the languages of Oceania and Burma to wage a propaganda campaign against the Dutch, British and Americans. Contact with the people relies on common language.

He exclaims salutes in the languages of our allies - Chinese, Russian, Dutch, Belgian, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, and French. As well as German and Italian for dissenters in those countries.

This is the last installment of the series.

Audio courtesy of the City University of New York

WNYC archives id: 71458


Ephraim Cross


More in:

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About The Role of Science in War

Talks by members of the City College of New York faculty discussing how their disciplines help the war effort. Topics include astronomy, mathematics, biology, and more.  The program aired in 1942.


Supported by