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Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics

English, Sciences, 1 season, 92 episodes, 2 days, 9 hours, 57 minutes
About
A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics by Gretchen McCulloch (All Things Linguistic) and Lauren Gawne (Superlinguo). A weird and deep conversation about language delivered right to your ears the third Thursday of every month. Listened to all the episodes here and wish there were more? Want to talk with other people who are enthusiastic about linguistics? Get bonus episodes and access to our Discord community at www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Shownotes and transcripts: www.lingthusiasm.com
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92: Brunch, gonna, and fozzle - The smooshing episode

Sometimes two words are smooshed together in a single act of creativity to fill a lexical gap, like making "brunch" from breakfast+lunch. Other times, words are smooshed together gradually, over a long period of speakers or signers discovering more efficient ways to position their mouth or hands, such as pronouncing "handbag" being pronounced more like "hambag". In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about smooshing words together. We talk about the history of portmanteau words like motel and chortle, the poem Jabberwocky, and why some portmanteaus, like Kenergy from Ken + energy, sound really satisfying, while others (wonut??) just don't catch on at all. We also talk about words becoming more efficient to produce over time, like how a path can be gradually created through many people choosing the same route through a field, such as "going to" becoming "gonna" or the historical forms of ASL "remember" and French "aujourd'hui". Read the transcript here: lingthusiasm.com/post/750684727053352960/transcript-episode-92-smooshing Announcements: In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about secret codes and the word games we create based on them!! We talk about using alternate symbols to encode messages like in semaphore, Morse code, as well as repurposing existing symbols like the Caesar cipher, ROT13, and cryptoquote puzzles. We also talk about cryptic crosswords, which aren't technically a kind of cryptography but were used to recruit codebreakers for Bletchley Park in World War II, as well as Navajo, Choctaw, and other Native American code talkers who used their language skills to transmit messages in both world wars that were much harder to crack than a mere cipher. Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 80+ other bonus episodes. You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds. Find us here: www.patreon.com/posts/103457404 For links to things mentioned in this episode: lingthusiasm.com/post/750684590310555648/lingthusiasm-episode-92-brunch-gonna-and-fozzle
5/17/202449 minutes, 32 seconds
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91: Scoping out the scope of scope

When you order a kebab and they ask you if you want everything on it, you might say yes. But you'd probably still be surprised if it came with say, chocolate, let alone a bicycle...even though chocolate and bicycles are technically part of "everything". That's because words like "everything" and "all" really mean something more like "everything typical in this situation". Or in linguistic terms, we say that their scope is ambiguous without context. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about how we can think about ambiguity of meaning in terms of scope. We talk about how humour often relies on scope ambiguity, such as a cake with "Happy Birthday in red text" written on it (quotation scope ambiguity) and the viral bench plaque "In Memory of Nicole Campbell, who never saw a dog and didn't smile" (negation scope ambiguity). We also talk about how linguists collect fun examples of ambiguity going about their everyday lives, how gesture and intonation allow us to disambiguate most of the time, and using several scopes in one sentence for double plus ambiguity fun. Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/748141442230272000/transcript-episode-91-scope Announcements: In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about the forms that our thoughts take inside our heads! We talk about an academic paper from 2008 called "The phenomena of inner experience", and how their results differ from the 2023 Lingthusiasm listener survey questions on your mental pictures and inner voices. We also talk about more unnerving methodologies, like temporarily paralyzing people and then scanning their brains to see if the inner voice sections still light up (they do!). Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 80+ other bonus episodes. You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds. You can find us at patreon.com/lingthusiasm Also: Join at the Ling-phabet tier and you'll get an exclusive “Lingthusiast – a person who’s enthusiastic about linguistics,” sticker! You can stick it on your laptop or your water bottle to encourage people to talk about linguistics with you. Members at the Ling-phabet tier also get their very own, hand-selected character of the International Phonetic Alphabet – or if you love another symbol from somewhere in Unicode, you can request that instead – and we put that with your name or username on our supporter Wall of Fame! Check out our Supporter Wall of Fame and become a Ling-phabet patron here: patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/748139974576275456/lingthusiasm-episode-91-scoping-out-the-scope-of
4/18/202430 minutes, 9 seconds
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90: What visualizing our vowels tells us about who we are

On Lingthusiasm, we've sometimes compared the human vocal tract to a giant meat clarinet, like the vocal folds are the reed and the rest of the throat and mouth is the body of the instrument that shapes the sound in various ways. However, when it comes to talking more precisely about vowels, we need an instrument with a greater degree of flexibility, one that can produce several sounds at the same time which combine into what we perceive as a vowel. Behold, our latest, greatest metaphor (we're so sorry)... the meat bagpipe! In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about what visualizing our vowels tells us about who we are. We commissioned Dr. Bethany Gardner to make custom vowel plots for us (which you can see below!) based on how we say certain words during Lingthusiasm episodes, and we talk about how our personal vowel plots let us easily see differences between our Canadian and Australian accents and between when we're carefully reading a wordlist versus more casually talking on the show. We also talk about where the two numbers per vowel that we graph come from (hint: that's where the bagpipe comes in), the delightfully wacky keywords used to compare vowels across English varieties (leading us to silly names for real phenomena, like "goose fronting"), and how vowel spaces are linked to other aspects of our identities including regional variation as well as gender and sexuality. Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/745605876867629056/transcript-episode-90-vowel-plots Announcements: We’ve created a new and Highly Scientific™ ’Which Lingthusiasm episode are you?’ quiz! Answer some very fun and fanciful questions and find out which Lingthusiasm episode most closely corresponds with your personality. If you’re not sure where to start with our back catalogue, or you want to get a friend started on Lingthusiasm, this is the perfect place to start. Take the quiz here: bit.ly/lingthusiasmquiz In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about the process of making visual maps of our own vowel spaces with Dr. Bethany Gardner. We talk about Bethany’s PhD research on how people learn how to produce and comprehend singular “they”, how putting pronouns in bios or nametags makes it easier for people to use them consistently, and how the massive amounts of data they were wrangling as a result of this led them to make nifty vowel plots for us! If you think you might want to map your own vowels or you just like deep dives into the making-of process, this is the bonus episode for you. Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 80+ other bonus episodes. You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds. Find us here: patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to things mentioned in this episode:https://lingthusiasm.com/post/745605428371701760/lingthusiasm-episode-90-what-visualizing-our
3/21/202447 minutes, 48 seconds
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89: Connecting with oral culture

For tens of thousands of years, humans have transmitted long and intricate stories to each other, which we learned directly from witnessing other people telling them. Many of these collaboratively composed stories were among the earliest things written down when a culture encountered writing, such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Mwindo Epic, and Beowulf. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about how writing things down changes how we feel about them. We talk about a Ted Chiang short story comparing the spread of literacy to the spread of video recording, how oral cultures around the world have preserved astronomical information about the Seven Sisters constellation for over 10,000 years, and how the field of nuclear semiotics looks to the past to try and communicate with the far future. We also talk about how "oral" vs " written" culture should perhaps be referred to as "embodied" vs "recorded" culture because signed languages are very much part of this conversation, where areas of residual orality have remained in our own lives, from proverbs to gossip to guided tours, and why memes are an extreme example of literate culture rather than extreme oral culture. Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/742445104511500288/transcript-episode-89-connecting-with-oral Announcements: We've created a new and Highly Scientific™ 'Which Lingthusiasm episode are you?' quiz! Answer some very fun and fanciful questions and find out which Lingthusiasm episode most closely corresponds with your personality. If you're not sure where to start with our back catalogue, or you want to get a friend started on Lingthusiasm, this is the perfect place to start. Take the quiz here: https://bit.ly/lingthusiasmquiz For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/742444321413939200/lingthusiasm-episode-89-connecting-with-oral
2/16/202455 minutes, 19 seconds
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88: No such thing as the oldest language

It's easy to find claims that certain languages are old or even the oldest, but which one is actually true? Fortunately, there's an easy (though unsatisfying) answer: none of them! Like how humans are all descended from other humans, even though some of us may have longer or shorter family trees found in written records, all human languages are shaped by contact with other languages. We don't even know whether the oldest language(s) was/were spoken or signed, or even whether there was a singular common ancestor language or several. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about what people mean when we talk about a language as being old. We talk about how classifying languages as old or classical is often a political or cultural decision, how the materials that are used to write a language influence whether it gets preserved (from clay to bark), and how people talk about creoles and signed languages in terms of oldness and newness. And finally, how a language doesn't need to be justified in terms of its age for whether it's interesting or worthy of respect. Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/739896819002277888/transcript-episode-88-every-language-is-an-old For links to things mentioned in this episode:https://lingthusiasm.com/post/739896689822990336/lingthusiasm-episode-88-no-such-thing-as-the
1/18/202441 minutes, 36 seconds
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87: If I were an irrealis episode

Language lets us talk about things that aren't, strictly speaking, entirely real. Sometimes that's an imaginative object (is a toy sword a real sword? how about Excalibur?). Other times, it's a hypothetical situation (such as "if it rains, we'll cancel the picnic" - but neither the picnic nor the rain have happened yet. And they might never happen. But also they might!). Languages have lots of different ways of talking about different kinds of speculative events, and together they're called the irrealis. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about some of our favourite examples under the irrealis umbrella. We talk about various things that we can mean by "reality", such as how existing fictional concepts, like goblins playing Macbeth, differ from newly-constructed fictions, like our new creature the Frenumblinger. We also talk about hypothetical statements using "if" (including the delightfully-named "biscuit conditionals), and using the "if I were a rich man" (Fiddler on the Roof) to "if I was a rich girl" (Gwen Stefani) continuum to track the evolution of the English subjunctive. Finally, a few of our favourite additional types of irrealis categories: the hortative, used to urge or exhort (let's go!), the optative, to express wishes and hopes (if only...), the dubitative, for when you doubt something, and the desiderative (I wish...). Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/737362573359464448/transcript-episode-87-irrealis Announcements: Thank you to everyone who shared Lingthusiasm with a friend or on social media for our seventh anniversary! It was great to see what you love about Lingthusiasm and which episodes you chose to share. We hope you enjoyed the warm fuzzies! In this month’s bonus episode, Gretchen gets enthusiastic about swearing (including rude gestures) in fiction with science fiction and fantasy authors Jo Walton and Ada Palmer, authors of the Thessaly books and Terra Ignota series, both super interesting series we've ling-nerded out about before on the show. We talk about invented swear words like "frak" and "frell", sweary lexical gaps (why don't we swear with "toe jam!"), and interpreting the nuances of regional swear words like "bloody" in fiction. Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 80+ other bonus episodes! You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds. Find us here: https://patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/737362321491591169/lingthusiasm-episode-87-if-i-were-an-irrealis
12/21/202334 minutes, 59 seconds
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86: Revival, reggaeton, and rejecting unicorns - Basque interview with Itxaso Rodríguez-Ordóñez

Basque is a language of Europe which is unrelated to the Indo-European languages around it or any other recorded language. As a minority language, Basque has faced considerable pressure from Spanish and French, leading to waves of language revitalization movements from the 1960s and 1980s to the present day. Which means that some of the kids who grew up among language revitalization activities are now adults, and the project of Basque language revival has taken on further dimensions. In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch gets enthusiastic about new speakers and multiple generations of language revitalization in the Basque country with Dr. Itxaso Rodríguez-Ordóñez, who's an Assistant Professor at California State University, Long Beach, USA, and a native speaker of Basque and Spanish. We talk about how Itxaso grew up learning Basque at school and from her parents, who'd learned it as adults as part of the Basque language revitalization movement, and how studying linguistics gave her names for her linguistic experiences and made her realize she wasn't alone. We also talk about a paper Itxaso wrote with several other multilingual linguists about how academia needs to stop searching for "unicorn language users", aka users of minoritized languages who perfectly match a monolingual majority control group. Plus: Basque language revitalization through punk rock, reggaeton, and more music recs! (Links to songs in shownotes.) Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/734191628928106496/transcript-episode-86-itxaso-interview Announcements: Thank you to everyone who helped share Lingthusiasm with a friend or on social media for our seventh anniversary! We appreciate your support so much, and it was great to see what you love about Lingthusiasm and which episodes you chose to share. If you'd like to share more of your thoughts on Lingthusiasm, take our 2023 Listener Survey! This is our chance to learn about your linguistic interests, and for you to have fun doing a new set of linguistic experiments. If you did the survey last year, the experiment questions are different this year, so feel free to take it again! You can hear about the results of last year’s survey in a bonus episode (https://www.patreon.com/posts/bonus-75-2022-82426500) and we’ll be sharing the results of the new experiments next year. Take the survey here until December 15th 2023: https://bit.ly/lingthusiasmsurvey23 In this month’s bonus episode, Gretchen and Lauren get enthusiastic about giving advice by answering your linguistics questions! Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 80 other bonus episodes, including our 2022 survey results episode, and an eventual future episode discussing the results of our 2023 survey. Listen to our latest bonus here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/bonus-81-advice-92128507 For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/734191359532122112/episode-86-revival-reggaeton-and-rejecting
11/16/202347 minutes, 25 seconds
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85: Ergativity delights us

When you have a sentence like "I visit them", the word order and the shape of the words tell you that it means something different from "they visit me". However, in a sentence like "I laugh", you don't actually need those signals -- since there's only one person in the sentence, the meaning would be just as clear if the sentence read "Me laugh" or "Laugh me". And indeed, there are languages that do just this, where the single entity with an intransitive verb like "laugh" patterns with the object (me) rather than the subject (I) of a transitive verb like "visit". This pattern is known as ergativity. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about ergativity! We talk about how ergativity first brought us together as collaborators (true facts: Lingthusiasm might never have existed without it), some classic examples of ergatives from Basque and Arrente, and cool downstream effects that ergativity makes possible, including languages that have ergatives sometimes but not other times (aka split ergativity) and the gloriously-named antipassive (the opposite of the passive). We also introduce a handy mnemonic gesture for remembering what ergativity looks like, as part of our ongoing quest to encourage you to make fun gestures in public! Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/731654643533447168/transcript-episode-85 November is Lingthusiasm's anniversary month and it's been 7 years! To help us celebrate we’re asking you to help connect us with people who would be totally into a linguistics podcast, if only they knew it existed. Most people still find podcasts through word of mouth, so we're asking you to share a link to your favourite episode, or just share Lingthusiasm in general. Tag us on on social media so we can thank you, or if you share in private enjoy the warm fuzzies of our gratitude. We’re doing our second listener survey! Right here: https://bit.ly/lingthusiasmsurvey23 This is our chance to learn about your linguistic interests, and for you to have fun doing a new set of linguistic experiments. If you did the survey last year, the experiment questions are different this year, so feel free to take it again! You can hear about the results of last year's survey in a bonus episode (https://www.patreon.com/posts/bonus-75-2022-82426500) and we’ll be sharing the results of the new experiments next year. Take the survey here: https://bit.ly/lingthusiasmsurvey23 In this month’s bonus episode, Gretchen and Lauren get enthusiastic about linguistic summer camps for grownups aka linguistics institutes! Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 80 other bonus episodes, including our 2022 survey results episode, and an eventual future episode discussing the results of our 2023 survey. Listen here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/bonus-80-from-87062497 For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/731654340611293184/episode-85-ergativity-delights-us
10/19/202346 minutes
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84: Look, it's deixis, an episode about pointing!

Pointing creates an invisible line between a part of your body and the thing you're pointing at. Humans are really good at producing and understanding pointing, and it seems to be something that helps babies learn to talk, but only a few animals manage it: domestic dogs can follow a point but wolves can't. (Cats? Look, who knows.) There are lots of ways of pointing, and their relative prominence varies across cultures: you can point to something with a finger or two, with your whole hand, with your elbow, your head, your eyes and eyebrows, your lips, and even your words. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about pointing, aka deixis. We talk about how pointing varies across cultures and species: English speakers tend to have a taboo against pointing with the middle finger and to some extent at people, but don't have the very common cross-cultural taboo against pointing at rainbows. We also talk about the technical term for pointing in a linguistic context, deixis, and how deictic meanings bring together a whole bunch of categories: pronouns in signed and spoken languages, words like here, this, go, and today, and the eternal confusion about which Tuesday is next Tuesday. Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/729129984955990016/transcript-episode-84-pointing Announcements: This episode is brought to you by all of the fantastic people who have supported the podcast by becoming patrons or buying merch over the years! We say this a lot but it really is very much the case that we would have had to give up making the show a long time ago without your financial support. If you would like to help keep the show running ad-free into the future, listen to bonus episodes, and connect with other language nerds on our Discord, join us on Patreon. In this month’s bonus episode, Lauren gets enthusiastic about the process of doing linguistic fieldwork with Dr. Martha Tsutsui Billins, an Adjunct Teaching Fellow at California State University Fresno and creator of the podcast Field Notes (https://fieldnotespod.com/), whose name you may recognize from the credits at the end of the show! Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 70+ other bonus episodes. You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds. For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/729129330001805312/episode-84-look-its-deixis-a-word-for
9/22/202338 minutes, 55 seconds
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83: How kids learn Q’anjob’al and other Mayan languages - Interview with Pedro Mateo Pedro

Young kids growing up in Guatemala often learn Q’anjob’al, Kaq’chikel, or another Mayan language from their families and communities. But they don’t live next to the kinds of major research universities that do most of the academic studies about how kids learn languages. Figuring out what these kids are doing is part of a bigger push to learn more about language learning in a broader variety of sociocultural settings. In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch gets enthusiastic about how kids learn Q’anjob’al and other Mayan languages with Dr. Pedro Mateo Pedro, who’s an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, Canada, a native speaker of Q'anjob'al and a learner of Kaq'chikel. We talk about Pedro’s background teaching school in Q’anjob’al and Spanish, which sounds kids acquire later in Q’anjob’al (hint: it’s the ejectives like q’ and b’), and gender differences in how kids speak Q’anjob’al. We also talk more broadly about why this work is important, both in terms of understanding how language acquisition works as a whole and in terms of using the knowledge of how children acquire Indigenous languages to create teaching materials specific to those languages. Finally, we talk about Pedro’s newer revitalization work with a community of Itza’ speakers and the process of building a relationship with a community that you’re not already part of. Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/725990865999462400/transcript-episode-83-how-kids-learn-qanjobal Announcements: We love reading up on an interesting etymology, but the history of a word doesn’t have to define how it’s used now - and to celebrate that we have new merch with the motto ‘Etymology isn’t Destiny’. Our artist, Lucy Maddox has brought these words to life in a beautiful design in black, white, and rainbow gradient. The etymology isn't destiny design is available on lots of different colours and styles of shirts, hoodies, tank tops, t-shirts: classic fit, relaxed fit, curved fit. Plus mugs, notebooks, stickers, water bottles, zippered pouches, and more. Get yours here! https://www.redbubble.com/people/lingthusiasm/shop?artistUserName=Lingthusiasm&collections=3651094&iaCode=all-departments&sortOrder=relevant We also have tons of other Lingthusiastic merch available, it makes a great gift to give to a linguistics enthusiast in your life or to request as a gift from someone. Special shoutout to our aesthetic IPA chart redesign, which now comes in rectangle (looks great as a poster if you have an office or corridor that needs to be jazzed up), and with a transparent background for t-shirt purposes! Or get it on a tote bag or notebook so you can bring it to conferences! https://www.redbubble.com/people/lingthusiasm/shop?artistUserName=lingthusiasm&collections=3154890&iaCode=all-departments&sortOrder=relevant In this month’s behind the scenes bonus episode, Gretchen gets enthusiastic about the linguistic process of transcribing podcast episodes with Sarah Dopierala, whose name you may recognize from the credits at the end of the show! We talk about how Sarah's background in linguistics helps her with the technical words and phonetic transcriptions in Lingthusiasm episodes, her own research into converbs, and the linguistic tendencies that she's noticed from years of transcribing Lauren and Gretchen (guess which of us uses more quotative speech!) Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 70+ other bonus episodes, including our upcoming linguistics advice episode where we answer your questions! You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds. www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/725956192085671936/lingthusiasm-83-how-kids-learn-qanjobal-and
8/18/202341 minutes, 6 seconds
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82: Frogs, pears, and more staples from linguistics example sentences

Linguists are often interested in comparing several languages or dialects. To make this easier, it’s useful to have data that’s relatively similar across varieties, so that the differences really pop out. But what exactly needs to be similar or different varies depending on what we’re investigating. For example, to compare varieties of English, we might have everyone read the same passage that contains all of the sounds of English, whereas to compare the way people gesture when telling a story, we might have them all watch the same silent film and re-tell it back. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about linguistics examples that have been re-used in lots of studies to get large groups of people to produce comparable language data. These sentences are supposed to be pretty unremarkable so we can focus on doing linguistics on them, but they end up having a sort of charmingly banal vibe that makes them much beloved by people who have spent tons of time poring over recorded files. We talk about The North Wind and the Sun, the Stella passage, the Rainbow passage, the Harvard Sentences, the Frog story, the Pear story, and the Tweety Bird video. We also talk about what goes into creating different genres of reusable example sentences, from phonetic balancing to what makes a concept culturally specific, as well as our experience learning about and coming up with various examples. Have a favourite recurring example that we didn’t have space for here? Let us know! Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/723543648527122432/transcript-episode-82-frogs-pears-and-more Announcements: In this month’s bonus episode we present: LingthusiASMR, a very special bonus episode, in which your hosts Gretchen and Lauren get enthusiastic about linguistics in a very relaxed manner by reading one very large classic set of charmingly banal linguistics example sentences. Several people have told us that this has helped put them to sleep, which isn’t usually our goal but it sure is for this episode! Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 70+ other bonus episodes, including our upcoming linguistics advice episode where we answer your questions, which you can ask here: https://forms.gle/s6MeeVAGWD3oaDoM6 (until September 1st 2023). You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds. www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/723422789301829632/episode-82-frogs-pears-and-more-staples-from
7/21/202343 minutes, 56 seconds
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81: The verbs had been being helped by auxiliaries

In the sentence “the horse has eaten an apple”, what is the word “has” doing? It’s not expressing ownership of something, like in “the horse has an apple”. (After all, the horse could have very sneakily eaten the apple.) Rather, it’s helping out the main verb, eat. Many languages use some of their verbs to help other verbs express grammatical information, and the technical name for these helping verbs is auxiliary verbs. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about auxiliaries! We talk about what we can learn about auxiliaries across 2000+ languages using a new linguistic mapping website called GramBank, why auxiliaries get pronounced subtly differently from the words they’re derived from, and how “be” and “have” are the major players of the auxiliary world (but there are other options too, like “do”, “let”, and “go”). We also put a whole bunch of farm animals in our example sentences this episode just so we have an excuse to make a very good wordplay at the end of the episode. Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/720244703378964480/transcript-episode-81-the-verbs-had-been-being Announcements: Are there linguistics things you want advice about? Both serious or somewhat silly? We’re going to doing a linguistics advice bonus episode for our 7th anniversary in November 2023, where we’ll answer your linguistics questions! Go here (https://forms.gle/s6MeeVAGWD3oaDoM6) to ask us your questions by September 1st 2023, and join us on Patreon to hear the answers! In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about the jobs that people go on to do after a linguistics degree! We talk about Lauren's new academic article in a fancy linguistics journal about a blog post series she's been running for 8 years, interviewing 80 people who studied linguistics, from a minor to a doctorate level, and their experience and advice for non-academic jobs. Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 70+ other bonus episodes, including our upcoming linguistics advice episode where we answer your questions! You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds. www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/720244621612138496/lingthusiasm-81-the-verbs-had-been-being-helped
6/16/202337 minutes, 39 seconds
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80: Word Magic

The magical kind of spell and the written kind of spell are historically linked. This reflects how saying a word can change the state of the world, both in terms of fictional magic spells that set things on fire or make them invisible, and in terms of the real-world linguistic concept of performative utterances, which let us agree to contracts, place bets, establish names, and otherwise alter the fabric of our relationships. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about word magic! We talk about how the word magic systems are set up differently in three recent fantasy books we like: Babel by R.F. Kuang, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, and the Scholomance series by Naomi Novik. We also talk about linguistic performatives: why saying “I do” in a movie doesn’t make you married, aka Felicity Conditions, aka an excellent drag name; performativity as applied to gender (yup, Judith Butler got it from linguistics); the “hereby” test; and how technology changes what counts as a performative. Transcript available soon. Announcements: People often ask us to recommend interesting books about linguistics that don't assume prior knowledge of linguistics, so we've come up with a list of 12 books that we personally recommend, including both nonfiction and fiction books with linguistically interesting elements! Get this list of our top 12 linguistics books by signing up for our free email list. Email subscribers get an email once a month when there's a new episode of Lingthusiasm, and this month existing subscribers will see a link to our linguistics books list! If you find this any time in the future, you'll get the books list in the confirmation email after you sign up. https://lingthusiasm.com In this month’s bonus episode, we get excited about the results of the 2022 Lingthusiasm Survey. We talk about synesthesia fomo, whether people respond differently to kiki/bouba depending on whether they're aware of them as a meme, complicating the "where is a frown?" map, the plural of emoji, and more! Plus, we mentioned swearing in this episode? Yeah, we’ve got bonus episodes about that too. www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 70+ other bonus episodes, as well as access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds! Our patrons let us keep making the main episodes free for everyone and we really appreciate every level of support. www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/717705460623491072/episode-80-word-magic
5/19/202337 minutes, 19 seconds
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79: Tone and Intonation? Tone and Intonation!

Spoken languages can change the pitch or melody of words to convey several different kinds of information. When the pitch affects the meaning of the whole phrase, such as rising to indicate a question in English, linguists call it intonation. When the pitch affects the meaning of an individual word, such as the difference between mother (high mā) and horse (low rising mǎ) in Mandarin, linguists call it tone. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about tone, intonation, and the combination of the two. We talk about various meanings of intonation, such as question, list, floor-holding, emphasis, enthusiasm, and sarcasm, and how different languages use different shapes of intonation contours for functions like these. We also talk about things languages do with tones, from changing meanings of individual words to indicating grammatical information like negation. Finally, we talk about the many, many options for writing tone and intonation (from highly technical proposals to fun internet creations), how tone interacts with lyrics/melody in songs, and how “high” versus “low” tone is actually a culturally-specific metaphor -- could we start calling tones “thin” and “thick” or “big” and “small” instead? Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/715162109812637696/transcript-episode-79-tone-and-intonation-tone Announcements: In this month’s bonus episode, originally recorded as a liveshow on the Lingthusiasm patron Discord server, your host Gretchen gets enthusiastic about how languages do gender with special guest Dr. Kirby Conrod. We answer your questions about lots of things related to language and gender, including: gender-neutral versions of sir/ma'am and dude/bro, why linguistic gender even exists, how people are doing gender-neutral and nonbinary things across related languages, and how neopronouns are often made by recycling bits from a language's canonical pronouns. Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 70+ other bonus episodes, as well as access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds! Our patrons let us keep making the main episodes free for everyone and we really appreciate every level of support. www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/715161716945813504/episode-79-tone-and-intonation-tone-and
4/20/202340 minutes, 43 seconds
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78: Bringing stories to life in Auslan - Interview with Gabrielle Hodge

Communicating is about more than the literal, dictionary-entry-style words that we say -- it’s also about the many subtle ingredients that go into a message, from how you keep your audience in mind to how you portray the actions of the people you’re talking about. In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch interviews Dr. Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf researcher and writer based in Melbourne, Australia. She specialises in research relating to d/Deaf people, signed languages, and communication, and has worked with Auslan and British Sign Language (BSL) in Australia and the UK. We talk about Gab’s work analysing how people tell stories using a mixture of conventional signs (such as “book”) and enactment, aka showing what another person or character did using your body, such as depicting how someone is carrying a heavy book. We also talk about collaborations in multiple countries and assessing what makes a translation accessible to deaf people. We’re excited to bring you this bilingual episode in Auslan and English! For the full experience, make sure to watch the captioned video version of this episode at youtube.com/lingthusiasm (and check out our previous bilingual episode in ASL and English with Dr. Lynn Hou while you’re there). Read the transcript here - https://lingthusiasm.com/post/711999152213590016/transcript-episode-78-bringing-stories-to-life-in Announcements: Since we filmed this interview, Gab has accepted a position as Senior Lecturer in Sign Language Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. We’re excited to see more great work from her there! In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about four science fiction books/series we're read recently that project interesting future versions of English. We also talk about reading books set in the future but written in the past, and how several of these books now exist in a future that's in some ways more similar to their imagined futures than the time when they were being written. Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 70+ other bonus episodes, as well as access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds. It’s thanks to our patrons that we’re able to occasionally bring all of you bilingual video episodes like this one. Find us at patreon.com/lingthusiasm For the links mentioned in the episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/711999142266912768/episode-78-bringing-stories-to-life-in-auslan
3/17/202328 minutes, 53 seconds
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77: How kids learn language in Singapore - Interview with Woon Fei Ting

Singapore is a small city-state nation with four official languages: English, Mandarin, Tamil, and Malay. Most Singaporeans can also speak a local hybrid variety known as Singlish, which arose from this highly multilingual environment to create something unique to the island. An important part of growing up in Singapore is learning which of your language skills to use in which situation. In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch gets enthusiastic about how kids learn language in Singapore with Woon Fei Ting, who’s a Research Associate and the Lab Manager at the Brain, Language & Intersensory Perception Lab at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. We talk about how the rich multilingual environment in Singapore led Fei Ting and the lab to do language documentation while trying to figure out how kids learn to talk in Singapore, creating a dictionary of Red Dot Baby Talk (named after how Singapore looks like a red dot on the world map). We also talk about Singlish more generally, some words that Gretchen has learned on her trip, doing research with kids and parents via Zoom, and the role of a lab manager and other lab members in doing linguistic research. Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/709464013986217984/transcript-episode-77-how-kids-learn-language-in Announcements: Our liveshow is in just a few days!! Gretchen will be chatting to Dr Kirby Conrod (from our episode about the grammar of singular they lingthusiasm.com/post/615600862742609920/lingthusiasm-episode-43-the-grammar-of-singular) about language and gender on February 18th (Canada) slash 19th (Australia)! You can find out what time that is for you here (www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?msg=Lingthusiasm+Liveshow&iso=20230218T16&p1=179&ah=1). This liveshow is for Lingthusiam patrons and will take place on the Lingthusiasm Discord server. Become a patron before the event to ask us questions in advance or live-react in the text chat. This episode will also be available as an edited-for-legibility recording in your usual Patreon live feed if you prefer to listen at a later date. In the meantime: ask us questions about gender or tell us about your favourite examples of gender in various languages and we might include them in the show! Join us at www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about what we've been up to in 2022 and what's coming up for 2023. We also talk about our favourite linguistics paper that we read in 2022 slash possibly ever: okay, yes, academic papers don’t typically do this, but this paper has spoilers, so we STRONGLY recommend reading it yourself here before listening to this episode, or check out the sample paragraph on the Patreon post. Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 70+ other bonus episodes, as well as access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds, and get access to this weekends liveshow at www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For the links mentioned in the episode:https://lingthusiasm.com/post/709463972446879744/singapore-is-a-small-city-state-nation-with-four
2/17/202344 minutes, 28 seconds
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76: Where language names come from and why they change

Language names come from many sources. Sometimes they’re related to a geographical feature or name of a group of people. Sometimes they’re related to the word for “talk” or “language” in the language itself; other times the name that outsiders call the language is completely different from the insider name. Sometimes they come from mistakes: a name that got mis-applied or even a pejorative description from a neighbouring group.  In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about how languages are named! We talk about how naming a language makes it more legible to broader organizations like governments and academics, similar to how birth certificates and passports make humans legible to institutions. And like how individual people can change their names, sometimes groups of people decide to change the name that their language is known by, a process that in both cases can take a lot of paperwork.  Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/707010521186107392/transcript-episode-76-where-language-names-come Announcements:  We’re doing another Lingthusiasm liveshow! February 18th (Canada) slash 19th (Australia)! (What time is that for me?) We'll be returning to one of our fan-favourite topics and answering your questions about language and gender with returning special guest Dr. Kirby Conrod! (See Kirby’s previous interview with us about the grammar of singular they.) This liveshow is for Lingthusiam patrons and will take place on the Lingthusiasm Discord server. Become a patron before the event to ask us questions in advance or live-react in the text chat. This episode will also be available as an edited-for-legibility recording in your usual Patreon live feed if you prefer to listen at a later date. In the meantime: tell us about your favourite examples of gender in various languages and we might include them in the show! www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about some of our favourite deleted bits from previous interviews that we didn't quite have space to share with you. Think of it as a special bonus edition DVD from the past two years of Lingthusiasm with director's commentary and deleted scenes from interviews with Kat Gupta, Lucy Maddox, and Randall Munroe. Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 70+ other bonus episodes, as well as access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds, and get access to our upcoming liveshow! www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For the links mentioned in the episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/706926160206086144/episode-76-where-language-names-come-from-and-why
1/20/202337 minutes, 17 seconds
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75: Love and fury at the linguistics of emotions

Emotions are a universal part of the human experience, but the specific ways we express them are mediated through language. For example, English uses the one word “love” for several distinct feelings: familial love, romantic love, platonic love, and loving things (I love this ice cream!), whereas Spanish distinguishes lexically between the less intense querer and the stronger amar. Conversely, many Austronesian languages use the same word for the concepts that English would split as “fear” and “surprise”, while many Nakh-Daghestani (Northeast Caucasian) languages use the same word for the cluster that English splits into “fear”, “anxiety”, and “grief”.  In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about the layers of language that are involved in emotions, from how emotion words form different clusters of related meaning in different language families to how the way your face shape changes when you smile affects the pitch of your voice. We also talk about how our understanding of how to talk about emotion changes throughout history and our lifespan, and how bilingual people feel differently about emotional words in their different languages. Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/703741238379151360/transcript-episode-75-emotions Announcements:  Thank you so much for celebrating our 6th anniversary with us! We appreciated all the love and support on social media, and it was great to see you recommending us to other language fans. Thank you to anyone who made an irl recommendation of the podcast, we appreciate you too!  In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about stylized Oldey Timey English! We talk about contexts in which pseudo-archaic forms get used, from Gretchen's recent experience with names and titles in a 1492 papal election roleplaying game, to how the language handbook of the Society of Creative Anachronism balances modern-day desires for gender-neutral language with creating historic-feeling titles, and a 1949 academic article cataloguing business names in the New York City phonebook that began with "ye".  Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 60+ other bonus episodes, as well as access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds. www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Here are the links mentioned in the episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/703740969788522496/episode-75-love-and-fury-at-the-linguistics-of
12/15/202227 minutes, 2 seconds
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74: Who questions the questions?

We use questions to ask people for information (who’s there?), but we can also use them to make a polite request (could you pass me that?), to confirm social understanding (what a game, eh), and for stylistic effect, such as ironic or rhetorical questions (who knows!).  In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about questions! We talk about question intonations from the classic rising pitch? to the British downstep (not a dance move...yet), and their written correlates, such as omitting a question mark in order to show that a question is rhetorical or intensified. We also talk about grammatical strategies for forming questions, from the common (like question particles and tag questions in so many languages), to the labyrinthine history that brings us English’s very uncommon use of “do” in questions. Plus: the English-centrically-named wh-word questions (like who, what, where), why we could maybe call them kw-word questions instead (at least for Indo-European), and why we don’t need to stress out as much about asking “open” questions.  Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/701222250525949952/episode-74-transcript-who-questions-the Announcements: Lingthusiasm turns 6 this month! We invite you to celebrate six years of linguistics enthusiasm with us by sharing the show - you can share a link to an episode you liked or just share your lingthusiasm generally. Most people still find podcasts through word of mouth, and lots of them don’t yet realise that they could have a fun linguistics chat in their ears every month (or eyes, all Lingthusiasm episodes have transcripts!). If you share Lingthusiasm on social media, tag us so we can reply, and if you share in private, we won’t know but you can feel a warm glow of satisfaction - or feel free to tell us about it on social media if you want to be thanked! We’re also doing a listener survey for the first time! This is your chance to tell us about what you’re enjoying about Lingthusiasm so far, and what else we could be doing in the future - and your chance to suggest topics! It’s open until December 15, 2022. And we couldn’t resist the opportunity to add a few linguistic experiments in there as well, which we’ll be sharing the results of next year. We might even write up a paper about the survey one day, so we have ethics board approval from La Trobe University for this survey. Take the survey here! https://bit.ly/lingthusiasmsurvey22 In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about a project that Gretchen did to read one paper for each of the 103 languages recorded in a recent paper by Evan Kidd and Rowena Garcia about child language acquisition. We talk about some of the specific papers that stood out to us, and what Gretchen hoped to achieve with her reading project. https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 60+ other bonus episodes, as well as access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds. https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/701222097876369408/episode-74-who-questions-the-questions-we-use
11/18/202237 minutes, 36 seconds
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73: The linguistic map is not the linguistic territory

Maps of languages of the world are fun to look at, but they’re also often suspiciously precise: a suspiciously round number of languages, like 7000, mapped to dots or coloured zones with suspiciously exact and un-overlapping locations. And yet, if you’ve ever eavesdropped on people on public transit, you know that any given location often plays host to many linguistic varieties at once. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about the complications that come with trying to map languages and dialects. We talk about the history of how people have tried to map out linguistic varieties, and how geopolitical factors like war, colonialism, migration, education, and nationalism influence which languages are considered to exist and where, in the context of Inuktitut, French, BANZSL (British, Australian, and New Zealand Sign Languages), and the Faroe Islands. We also talk about sprachbunds, aka how languages and dialects are more like gradients of colour rather than patchwork pieces. This episode was updated with a corrected definition of sprachbund [14:54 - 16:08] on 23/10/2022. Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/698676202821566464/transcript-lingthusiasm-episode-73-the-linguistic Announcements: November is our anniversary month and this year we’re celebrating 6 months of Lingthusiasm! We invite you to celebrate with us by sharing your favourite Lingthusiasm episode by sharing a link to your favourite episode, or just sharing your lingthusiasm. Most people still find podcasts through word of mouth, and lots of them don’t yet realise that they could have a fun linguistics chat in their ears every month (or eyes, all Lingthusiasm episodes have transcripts!). If you share Lingthusiasm on social media, tag us so we can reply, and if you share in private, we won’t know but you can feel a warm glow of satisfaction - or feel free to tell us about it on social media if you want to be thanked! We're also doing a listener survey for the first time! This is your chance to tell us about what you're enjoying about Lingthusiasm so far, and what else we could be doing in the future - and your chance to suggest topics! And we couldn’t resist the opportunity to add a few linguistic experiments in there as well, which we’ll be sharing the results of next year. We might even write up a paper about the survey one day, so we have ethics board approval from La Trobe University for this survey. Take the survey here! http://bit.ly/lingthusiasmsurvey22 In this month’s bonus episode we interview Liz McCullough (no relation), of Lingthusiasm production manager fame, about linguistics and science communication. We talk about how Liz got interested in linguistics through science and music, her varied career path going back and forth between museums and universities, and how she's worked with us on the intersection between linguistics and science communication. www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 60+ other bonus episodes, access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds. For all the links mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/698675918395277313/episode-73-the-linguistic-map-is-not-the
10/20/202239 minutes, 18 seconds
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72: What If Linguistics - Absurd hypothetical questions with Randall Munroe of xkcd

What’s the “it’s” in “it’s three pm and hot”? How do you write a cough in the International Phonetic Alphabet? Who is the person most likely to speak similarly to a randomly-selected North American English speaker? In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about absurd hypothetical linguistic questions with special guest Randall Munroe, creator of the webcomic xkcd and author of What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. We only wish that there was a little more linguistics in the book. So Randall came on to fill the gap with all his most ridiculous linguistics questions! One of our unresolved questions that we can merely speculate about is our predictions for what the future of English might be like. Are you listening to this episode from more than two decades in the future? Please write in from 2042 or later and let us know how accurate we’ve been! Read the transcript here: Announcements: We’ve teamed up with linguist/artist Lucy Maddox to create a fun, minimalist version of the classic International Phonetic Alphabet chart, which you can see here (plus more info about how we put together the design). It looks really cool, and it’s also a practical reference tool that you can carry around with you in a convenient multi-purpose format: lens cloths! We’re going to place ONE (1) massive order for aesthetic IPA chart lens cloths on October 6, 2022. If you want one, be a patron at the Lingthusiast tier or higher on October 5th, 2022, timezone: anywhere in the world. If you’re already a patron at that tier, then you’re set! (That’s the tier where you also get bonus episodes and the Discord access, we’ve never run a special offer at this tier before but we think this time it’ll be worth it!). www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm In this month’s bonus episode we chat with Lucy about redesigning the IPA! We talk about how Lucy got interested in linguistics, how she got into art, how we started working with her, and the many design considerations that went into making a redesigned IPA chart. Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 60+ other bonus episodes, access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds, as well your exclusive IPA chart lens cloth! www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Click here for the full show notes, which includes links to things mentioned in this episode:
9/16/202249 minutes, 32 seconds
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71: Various vocal fold vibes

Partway down your throat are two flaps of muscle. When you breathe normally, you pull the flaps away to the sides, and air comes out silently. But if you stretch the flaps across the opening of your throat while pushing air up through, you can make them vibrate in the breeze and produce all sorts of sounds -- sort of like the mucousy reed of a giant meat clarinet. (You’re welcome.) In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about the vocal folds! They’re often called vocal cords, but as they’re attached along the long side rather than just the two ends like a guitar string, we’re using the more precise “folds” (just be thankful they’re not called “vocal flaps”!) We talk about the many cool types of vibrations you can make with your vocal folds: pushing out an extra puff of air (aspiration), turning off your vocal folds while still talking (whisper), making them high and tight (falsetto), low and airy (breathy voice), and low and crackly (creaky voice, aka vocal fry). We also talk about the ways that various languages draw on different configurations of these vibrations to distinguish between words (such as “sip” and “zip”; Thai, Tai, and Dai; and more) or for stylistic effect (such as newscaster voice). Transcript: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/view/lingthusiasm/692978486586048512 Announcements We’ve teamed up with linguist/artist Lucy Maddox to create a fun, minimalist version of the classic International Phonetic Alphabet chart, which you can see here (plus more info about how we put together the design). It looks really cool, and it’s also a practical reference tool that you can carry around with you in a convenient multi-purpose format: lens cloths! We're going to place ONE (1) massive order for aesthetic IPA chart lens cloths on October 6, 2022. If you want one, be a patron at the Lingthusiast tier or higher on October 5th, 2022, timezone: anywhere in the world. If you’re already a patron at that tier, then you’re set! (That's the tier where you also get bonus episodes and the Discord access, we've never run a special offer at this tier before but we think this time it'll be worth it!). https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about a forgotten gem of a linguistics paper about a rabbit! We talk about how Linguistics Twitter got excited about tracking down this paper based on a vague rumour, Labov's history of coming up with unique ways to record language in more natural environments, and useful takeaways about how to talk with children. Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 60+ other bonus episodes, including an upcoming episode where we interview the artist and linguist Lucy Maddox about the process of designing our new IPA chart. You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds, as well your exclusive IPA chart lense cloth! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/view/lingthusiasm/692978069598814208
8/19/202240 minutes, 18 seconds
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70: Language in the brain - Interview with Ev Fedorenko

Your brain is where language - and all of your other thinking - happens. In order to figure out how language fits in among all of the other things you do with your brain, we can put people in fancy brain scanning machines and then create very controlled setups where exactly one thing is different. For example, comparing looking at words versus nonwords (of the same length, on the same background) or listening to audio clips of a language you do speak vs a language you don’t speak. In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch talks with Dr Evelina Fedorenko, an associate professor of neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, USA about figuring out which parts of the brain do language things! We talk about how we can use brain scans to compare language with other things your brain can do, such as solving visual puzzles, math problems, music, and inferring things about other people’s mental states, as well as comparing how the brains of multilingual people process their various languages. We also talk about the results of the fMRI language experiments that Gretchen got to be a participant in: which side is doing most of her language processing and how active her brain is for French compared to English. For links to things mentioned in this episode, including an image of Gretchen's brain:
7/21/202238 minutes, 15 seconds
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69: What we can, must, and should say about modals

Sometimes, we use language to make definite statements about how the world is. Other times, we get more hypothetical, and talk about how things could be. What can happen. What may occur. What might be the case. What will happen (or would, if only we should have known!) What we must and shall end up with. In other words, we use a part of language known as modals and modality! In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about modals! We talk about the nine common modals in English, the gloriously-named quasimodals (no relation to the bellringer but I would absolutely read the Quasimodo/Quasimodal crossover, I’m just saying), and how people use the ambiguity between permission and believability in English modals for comic effect. We also talk about neat things modals do in various languages: in Nsyilxcen, the modal is a separate word, whereas in Nez Perce, it’s an affix on the verb, and in German, there are also modal adverbs. In Italian Sign Language and American Sign Language the forcefulness of the modal (such as the difference between “should” and “must”) is indicated through having modals that are performed faster or larger or have a more intensive expression in how they’re signed. Announcements: In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about the word "like"! We talk about why "like" falls prey to the frequency and recency illusions, why linguists get excited about "like" and other function words, and other important dispatches from the world of "like" (apparently people who use "like" are perceived as more attractive!). Join us on Patreon to listen to this and 60+ other bonus episodes. You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds! For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/687253856615350272/episode-69-what-we-can-must-and-should-say
6/16/202242 minutes, 23 seconds
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68: Tea and skyscrapers - When words get borrowed across languages

When societies of humans come into contact, they’ll often pick up words from each other. When this is happening actively in the minds of multilingual people, it gets called codeswitching; when it happened long before anyone alive can remember, it’s more likely to get called etymology. But either way, this whole spectrum is a kind of borrowing. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about borrowing and loanwords. There are lots of different trajectories that words take when we move them around from language to language, including words that are associated with particular domains, like tea and books, words that shift meaning when they language hop, like “gymnasium” and “babyfoot”, words that get translated piece by piece, like “gratte-ciel” (skyscraper) and “fernseher” (television), and words that end up duplicating the same meaning (or is it...?) in multiple languages, like “naan bread” and “Pendle hill”. We also talk about the tricky question of how closely to adapt or preserve a borrowed word, depending on your goals and the circumstances. Announcements: The LingComm grants have been announced! Thank you so much to everyone who made this possible, and congratulations to all our grantees. Go check out their projects as they keep rolling out over the rest of this year for a little more fun linguistics content in your life. https://lingcomm.org/grants/ In this month’s bonus episode, originally recorded live through the Lingthusiasm Discord, we get enthusiastic about your sweary questions! We talk about why it's so hard to translate swears in a way that feels satisfying, how swears and other taboo words participate in the Euphemism Cycle, a very ambitious idea for cataloging swear words in various languages, and more. www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Join us on Patreon to listen to this and 60+ other bonus episodes. You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can play and discuss word games and puzzles with other language nerds! www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/684727483493384192/episode-68-tea-and-skyscrapers-when-words-get
5/20/202240 minutes, 48 seconds
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67: What it means for a language to be official

The Rosetta Stone is famous as an inscription that let us read Egyptian hieroglyphs again, but it was created in the first place as part of a long history of signage as performative multilingualism in public places. Choosing between languages is both very personal but it’s not only personal -- it’s also a reflection of the way that the societies we live in constrain our choices. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about language policy and how organizations and nation-states make language decisions that affect people’s everyday lives. We also talk about the excellent recent lingcomm book Memory Speaks by Julie Sedivy, the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (currently ongoing!), and many ways of unpacking the classic quote about a language being a dialect with an army and a navy. Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/682191718408388608/transcript-episode-67-what-it-means-for-a Announcements: In this month’s bonus episode we’re getting enthusiastic about word games and puzzles with Nicole Holliday and Ben Zimmer of Spectacular Vernacular! We talk about patron questions, including lots of Wordle content: what Ben and Nicole learned from interviewing the creator of Wordle, our favourite Wordle variants such as IPA Wordle and Semantle, and comparing our Wordle solving strategies with a demo game on air. www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Join us on Patreon to listen to this and 60+ other bonus episodes. You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can play and discuss word games and puzzles with other language nerds! www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to all the things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/682191350734667776/episode-67-what-it-means-for-a-language-to-be
4/22/202237 minutes, 33 seconds
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66: Word order, we love

Let’s say we have the set of words “Lauren”, “Gretchen”, and “visits” and we want to make them into a sentence. The way that we combine these words is going to have a big effect on who’s packing their bags and who’s sitting at home with the kettle on. In English, our two sentences look like “Gretchen visits Lauren” and “Lauren visits Gretchen” -- but that’s not the only word order that’s possible. In theory, we could also use other orders, like “Lauren Gretchen visits” or “Visits Gretchen Lauren”, and in fact, many languages do. The only thing that really matters is that for any given language, we all agree on which order means what. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about how languages put words in a particular order. There are many possibilities, but a few of them show up a lot more than others: “I <3 linguistics” (as in English and Indonesian) and “I linguistics <3″ (as in Turkish and Japanese) are the most common word orders for conveying who did what to who. Another common strategy is using some other way of marking the actor and the acted-upon, which frees up word order for other functions, like indicating the topic of the sentence first (and what you want to comment about it afterwards) -- in English, this might be akin to “Linguistics, I <3 it”. We also look at how Yoda maintains his unique approach to word order across a variety of languages, including Hungarian, Japanese, Romanian, and Czech. Announcements: We’re doing another online Lingthusiasm liveshow on April 9th (Canada) slash 10th (Australia)! (What time is that for me?) It will be a live Q&A for patrons about a fan fave topic: swearing! We’ll be hosting this session on the Lingthusiasm patron Discord server. Become a patron before the event to live-react in the text chat, and it will also be available as an edited-for-legibility recording in your usual Patreon live feed if you prefer to listen at a later date. In the meantime: tell us about your favourite examples of swearing in various languages and we might include them in the show! https://www.patreon.com/posts/62707367 LingComm Grants are back in 2022! These are small grants to help kickstart new projects to communicate linguistics to broader audiences. There will be a $500 Project Grant, and ten Startup Grants of $100 each. Apply here by March 31, 2022 or forward this page to anyone you think might be interested, and if you’d like to help us offer more grants, you can support Lingthusiasm on Patreon or contribute directly. We started these grants because a small amount of seed money would have made a huge difference to us when we were starting out, and we want to help there be more interesting linguistics communication in the world. https://lingcomm.org/grants/ If you want to help keep our ongoing lingthusiastic activities going, from the LingComm Grants to regular episodes to fun things like liveshows and Q&As, join us on Patreon! As a reward, you will get over 50 bonus episodes to listen to and access to our Discord server to chat with other linguistics nerds. In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about how linguistic research topics come together! We talk about where our own research came from, figuring out spaces for new questions in the existing literature, and bridging gaps between multiple subject areas and communities. Listen here! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/679022541013155840/episode-66-word-order-we-love-lets-say-we-have
3/18/202233 minutes, 23 seconds
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65: Knowledge is power, copulas are fun

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The pen is mightier than the sword. Knowledge is power, France is bacon. These, ahem, classic quotes all have something linguistically interesting in common: they’re all formed around a particular use of the verb “be” known as a copula. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about copulas! This is a special name for a way of grammatically linking two concepts together that’s linguistically special in a lot of different languages: sometimes it’s a verb that’s super irregular (like be/is/was in English, Latin, and many other languages), sometimes it’s several verbs (like ser and estar in Iberian and Celtic languages), sometimes it’s a form of marking other words (like in Nahuatl, Auslan, and ASL), and sometimes it’s not even visible or audible at all (like zero copula in Arabic, African American English, and Russian). We also talk about some of the fun things you can do with copulas in English, such as the lexical gap that’s filled by “ain’t”, the news headline null copula, and the oddball philosophical experiment known as E-Prime. Announcements: We're doing another online Lingthusiasm liveshow on April 9th (Canada) slash 10th (Australia)! (What time is that for me?) It will be a live Q&A for patrons about a fan fave topic: swearing! We'll be hosting this session on the Lingthusiasm patron Discord server. Become a patron before the event, and it will also be available as an edited-for-legibility recording in your usual Patreon live feed if you prefer to listen at a later date. In the meantime: tell us about your favourite examples of swearing in various languages and we might include them in the show! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm LingComm Grants are back in 2022! These are small grants to help kickstart new projects to communicate linguistics to broader audiences. There will be a $500 Project Grant, and ten Startup Grants of $100 each. Apply here by March 31, 2022 or forward this page to anyone you think might be interested, and if you’d like to help us offer more grants, you can support Lingthusiasm on Patreon or contribute directly. We started these grants because a small amount of seed money would have made a huge difference to us when we were starting out, and we want to help there be more interesting linguistics communication in the world. https://lingcomm.org/grants/ For links to things mentioned in this episode:
2/17/202237 minutes, 18 seconds
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64: Making speech visible with spectrograms

If you hear someone saying /sss/ and /fff/, it’s hard to hear those as anything other than, well, S and F. This is very convenient for understanding language, but it’s less convenient for analyzing it -- if you’re trying to figure out exactly what makes two s-like sounds different, it would be helpful if you could kinda sorta turn the language processing part of your brain off for a sec and just process them as sounds. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about linguistic visualizations that let us examine sounds in more detail. One kind of visual is a wave form (which is found in many podcast apps!) and consists of longer lines for louder parts and shorter lines for quieter parts. Another kind of visual is a spectrogram, which shows a massive range of possible pitches and shades in which pitches have stuff going on during them at each time, sort of like a giant musical staff with thousands of potential notes. Spectrograms are especially popular in linguistics (there are even spectrogram reading competitions at conferences sometimes), although they’re also used for things like recording bird calls and making weird music videos, and there’s much-beloved free program called Praat which has been used to make them for over 30 years. If you don’t want to download a program, there are also free websites which let you speak into a live running spectrogram and see what it looks like, and we’ve produced a sample for you! We’ve created a dedicated video clip of the five minutes we spent using the real-time spectrogram maker, which you can watch here: https://youtu.be/ztctdMcK_1A Thanks to ScienceMusic.org for the handy real-time spectrogram maker, and go check it out yourself if you want to see what you sound like making various sounds. https://spectrogram.sciencemusic.org/ Announcements: LingComm Grants are back in 2022! These are small grants to help kickstart new projects to communicate linguistics to broader audiences. There will be a $500 Project Grant, and ten Startup Grants of $100 each. Apply here by March 31, 2022 or forward this page to anyone you think might be interested, and if you’d like to help us offer more grants, you can support Lingthusiasm on Patreon or contribute directly. We started these grants because a small amount of seed money would have made a huge difference to us when we were starting out, and we want to help there be more interesting linguistics communication in the world. https://lingcomm.org/grants/ If you want to help keep our ongoing lingthusiastic activities going, from the LingComm Grants to regular episodes to fun things like liveshows and Q&As, join us on Patreon! As a reward, you will get over 50 bonus episodes to listen to and access to our Discord server to chat with other language nerds. In this month's bonus episode we interview each other! We chat about what we were up to in 2021, what's coming in 2022, what we've been reading, our most mind blowing moments of linguistics undergrad, and more. Listen here! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to everything mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/673943123952549888/episode-64-making-speech-visible-with Transcript: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/673943123952549888/episode-64-making-speech-visible-with
1/20/202240 minutes, 7 seconds
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63: Where to get your English etymologies

When you look at a series of words that sorta sound like each other, such as pesto, paste, and pasta, it’s easy to start wondering if they might have originated with a common root word. Etymologists take these hunches and painstakingly track them down through the historical record to find out which ones are true and which ones aren’t -- in this case, that paste and pasta have a common ancestor, but pesto comes from somewhere else. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about English etymology! We talk about where the etymological parts of dictionaries come from, the gaps in our knowledge based on the biases of historical sources, how you can become the Etymology Friend (with help from Etymonline), and which kinds of etymologies should immediately make you put your debunking hat on (spoiler: anything containing an acronym or formatted like an image meme. Just saying.). Now you too can have etymology x-ray vision! (Aka, where to quickly look up etymologies on your phone!). Read the transcript here. Announcements: Thanks for celebrating our 5 year anniversary with us! We loved seeing you share all your favourite Lingthusiasm episodes and moments. We’re looking forward to another year of sharing linguistic joy with you. This month’s bonus episode is about linguistics olympiads! These involve a series of fun linguistic puzzles, sort of like sudoku for linguistics. Since linguistics isn't commonly taught in high schools, the puzzles can't assume any prior linguistics knowledge, so they're either logic puzzles as applied to language or they teach you basic linguistics concepts in the preamble to the question, making them great for ling fans as well. Alas, we were not in high school recently enough to participate in any olympiads ourselves, so we also talk about how people can get involved if you're not a high school student, from helping to host a session at a local high school or university to just doing puzzles for fun and interest (they're available for free with answer keys on the olympiad websites, plus there was a recent book that came out compiling some of them). Plus: how Lauren has made a few olympiad puzzles herself! Get access to this and over 50 more bonus Lingthusiasm episodes (and help keep the show ad-free) by supporting Lingthusiasm on Patreon. www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to everything in this episode visit the shownotes page: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/670767938518827008/episode-63-where-to-get-your-english-etymologies
12/16/202134 minutes, 56 seconds
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62: Cool things about scales and implicature

We can plot the words we use to describe temperature on a scale: cold, cool, warm, hot. It’s not as precise as a temperature scale like Celsius or Fahrenheit, but we all generally agree on where these words sit in relation to each other. We can also do the same with other sets of words that don’t necessarily have an equivalent scientific scale, such as the relationship between “some", "a few" and “many“ or even words like "suppose”, “believe” and “know”. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about the things that get implied when we use words that involve scales, aka scalar implicature. Why can we revise our description of a warm coffee by saying “actually, it’s hot” but not “actually, it’s cold”? What happens when your language breaks up the scale differently to another language (spoiler: everyone can still agree that a warm spring day is different to a scorching hot one in the height of summer). And how can implied scales be used for humorous purposes, as in the Whale Fact™ that many whales were never taught how to drive manual stick shift? Announcements: It’s our 5 year anniversary! We’ve loved sharing the Lingthusiasm with you all these year, and as we do every year for our anniversary celebrations, we’re asking you to share it too! Share your favourite episode or moment on social media (and don’t forget to tag us!), or just tell a friend who you think could use a little more linguistics in their life. Then go forth and enjoy the warm fuzzies of having spread the linguistic joy! In this month’s bonus episode we’re getting enthusiastic about linguistic illusions! We talk about the where the Yanny/Laurel illusion that became popular on social media a while back came from, the McGurk Effect, using the Stroop Test to find spies, hallucinating words from musical instruments, the Comparative Illusion (aka "More people have been to Russia than I have"), and making our own speech to song illusion to infect you with (sorry) (no but seriously). Join us on Patreon to listen to this and 56 other bonus episodes. You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can discuss your favourite linguistically interesting fiction with other language nerds! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to everything in this episode:
11/18/202137 minutes, 20 seconds
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61: Corpus linguistics and consent - Interview with Kat Gupta

If you want to know what a particular person, era, or society thinks about a given topic, you might want to read what that person or people have written about it. Which would be fine if your topic and people are very specific, but what if you’ve got, say, “everything published in English between 1800 and 2000″ and you’re trying to figure out how the use of a particular word (say, “the”) has been changing? In that case, you might want to turn to some of the text analysis tools of corpus linguistics -- the area of linguistics that makes and analyzes corpora, aka collections of texts. In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch gets enthusiastic about corpus linguistics with Dr Kat Gupta, a lecturer in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Roehampton in London, UK. We talk about how Kat’s interests changed along their path in linguistics, what to think about when pulling together a bunch of texts to analyze, and two of Kat’s cool research projects -- one using a corpus of newspaper articles to analyze how people perceived the various groups within the suffrage movement, and one about what we can learn about consent from their 1.4 billion-word corpus of online erotica. Announcements: There's just under two weeks left to sign up for the Lingthusiastic Sticker Pack! Become a Ling-phabet patron or higher by November 3, 2021 (anywhere on earth) and we'll send you a pack of four fun Lingthusiasm-related stickers! Plus, if we hit our stretch goal, that'll also include the two bouba and kiki stickers below for all sticker packs. Tea and scarf, sadly, not included, but the usual tier rewards of IPA wall of fame tile and Lingthusiast sticker are. (That could be seven stickers!) https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm In this month’s patron bonus episode, Lauren and Gretchen get enthusiastic about improving linguistics content on Wikipedia! We talk about gaps and biases that still exist for linguistics-related articles, getting started with Wikipedia edit-a-thons for linguists (#lingwiki) in 2015, how Wikipedia can fit into academia (from wiki journals to classroom editing assignments), and the part that Wikipedia played in the Lingthusiasm origin story. To access this and 55 other bonus episodes, join the Lingthusiasm patreon: https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/665693903339536384/episode-61-corpus-linguistics-and-consent
10/21/202144 minutes, 26 seconds
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60: That’s the kind of episode it’s - clitics

Here’s a completely normal and unremarkable sentence. Let’s imagine we have two different coloured pens, and we’re going to circle the words in red and the affixes, that’s prefixes and suffixes, in blue. “Later today, I’ll know if I hafta get some prizes for Helen of Troy’s competition, or if it isn’t necessary.” Some of these are pretty straightforward. “Some”? Word. The -s on “prizes”? Affix. But some of them, “I’ll”, “hafta”, “Helen of Troy’s”, “isn’t”....hmmm. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about a small bit of language that’s sort of a halfway point between a standalone word and a fully glommed-on affix: the clitic! We talk about why sentences like “That’s the kind of linguist I’m” feel so strange and how on the one hand clitics are a sign of increased efficiency in terms of saying more common words more quickly, but on the other hand they kind of add complication because there are some contexts where the full forms of the words would be fine and yet the clitic doesn’t work, giving you one more thing to keep track of. We also talk about clitics and reduced forms of words in Yolmo, Old English, and Dutch, and how clitic pronouns might be evolving into affixes in French and Spanish. Announcements: We’re excited to announce a special offer that we’re running on Patreon that brings you fun things in the mail! Join the Ling-phabet tier or higher by November 3, 2021 (anywhere on earth) and get a sticker pack of FOUR stickers: - Two round “Schwa never stressed” stickers (one floral, one geometric) - One classic square Lingthusiasm logo sticker - One BECAUSE INTERNET bookplate sticker signed by Gretchen, for you to stick inside your copy or anywhere else you like Plus, if we reach a total of 1400 patrons at any level before November 3, then the sticker pack will also include: - Two mini Lingthusiasm green cutout stickers, one of which is called “bouba” and the other “kiki” — which is which? That’s an experiment you get to run on your friends when you stick them on your phone case, water bottle, laptop, etc. This special offer is part of the Ling-phabet tier, which also has the ordinary perk of letting patrons sponsor an IPA symbol or other special character and be recognized on the Lingthusiasm website on our “Supporter Wall of Fame” page. You can get your symbol through our ~*~super scientific~*~ Which IPA Character Are You Quiz, or just tell us what your favourite character or other Unicode symbol is. Then you get an image with your name and favourite symbol on it (see samples here!) recognizing you as a supporter, which you can share on social media/print off and use as a bookmark/gaze at in warm satisfaction/etc. Plus, after 3 months at this tier, you get its regular “Lingthusiast” sticker in the mail, so that could be a total of 5 (or 7) stickers and 2 joyous mail occasions for you! www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm In this month’s bonus episode, we talk with Emily Gref, a linguist who’s been working at a new language museum called Planet Word since 2018, first on creating content for the museum and, now that it’s open, on analyzing how visitors interact with the exhibits. We talk about what’s in Planet Word (including a library room with secret passage!), Emily’s career journey from academia to publishing to the museum world, and Emily’s passionate defence of pigeons. Join us on Patreon to listen to this and 53 other bonus episodes. You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can discuss your favourite linguistically interesting fiction with other language nerds! For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/662535562508517376/lingthusiasm-episode-60-thats-the-kind-of
9/17/202141 minutes, 37 seconds
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59: Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Theory of Mind

Let's say I show you and our friend Gavagai a box of chocolates, and then Gav leaves the room, and I show you that the box actually contains coloured pencils. (Big letdown, sorry.) When Gav comes back in the room a minute later, and we've closed the box again, what are they going to think is in the box? In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about Theory of Mind -- our ability to keep track of what other people are thinking, even when it's different from what we know ourselves. We talk about the highly important role of gossip in the development of language, reframing how we introduce people to something they haven't heard of yet, and ways of synchronizing mental states across groups of people, from conferences to movie voiceovers. Announcements: This month’s bonus episode is about some of the linguistically interesting fiction we've been reading lately! We talk about the challenges of communicating with sentient plants (from the plant's perspective) in Semiosis by Sue Burke, communicating with aliens by putting babies in pods (look, it was the 1980s) in Suzette Haden Elgin's classic Native Tongue, communicating with humans on a sailing ship using a sorta 19th century proto-internet in Courtney Milan's The Devil Comes Courting, and taking advantage of the difficulty of translation in communicating poetry across cultures in A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Join us on Patreon to listen to this and 53 other bonus episodes. You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can discuss your favourite linguistically interesting fiction with other language nerds! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to all the things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/659993200644308992/01-speaking-a-single-language-wont-bring-about
8/19/202138 minutes, 59 seconds
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58: A Fun-Filled Fricative Field Trip

What do the sounds fffff, vvvv, ssss, and zzzz all have in common? They're all produced by creating a sort of friction in your mouth when you constrict two parts against each other, whether that's your lips, your teeth, your tongue, the roof of your mouth, or in your throat. This whole class of sounds that are produced using friction are known as fricatives! In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about fricatives! We take you on a tour from the front of your mouth to the back (sadly, you’ll have to imagine the tiny cartoon schoolbus for yourself), and tell some of our favourite fricative-related stories along the way, including how the printing press is responsible for Ye Olde Teashoppe signs, the Extremely Welsh clothing chain LL Bean, and Gretchen’s erstwhile student days playing IPA Scrabble. If you have fricative stories of your own to add, feel free to talk about them in the Lingthusiasm Discord, or tag us in them on social media @lingthusiasm and we might share them! Announcements: We have new merch! Have you always wanted to recreate the classic psycholinguistics experiment of cross-modal perception wherever you go? With our bold coloured kiki/bouba merch you can! https://www.redbubble.com/people/lingthusiasm/ Kiki Bouba If I give you a rounded, lumpy shape and a sharp, spiky one, and tell you that one is called kiki and the other bouba, which name would you attach to which shape? It turns out that people's responses are surprisingly consistent! This classic experiment in cross-modal perception featured in Lingthusiasm episode 21: What words sound spiky across languages?, has become a favourite subject of linguistics memes, and is now available as Lingthusiasm merch! https://www.redbubble.com/people/lingthusiasm/ What the fricative Whether you're having a fricative hard day or you're just fricative surprised, now you can confuse people by not actually swearing and secretly give yourself an excuse to chat linguistics with them, thanks to our What the Fricative items in black or white text! Check out our cheeky ‘What The Fricative’ merch for all your almost-sweary needs! https://www.redbubble.com/people/lingthusiasm/ As ever, we love seeing photos of any Lingthusiasm merch in your lives! Tag us in them @lingthusiasm on social media! Announcements: In fiction, we can often tell when a character is drunk or high by their way of speaking: when someone's slurring sounds together or jumping erratically from topic to topic, the audience is meant to assume that they're under the influence. But how accurate are these fictional portrayals? In this episode, Lauren and Gretchen get enthusiastic about two fun studies of how people talk differently when under the influence of alcohol or cannabis: the German Alcohol Language Corpus and the delightfully named "Dude, What Was I Talking About? A New Sociolinguistic Framework for Marijuana-Intoxicated Speech". We also talk about the logistical complications of setting out to study intoxicated speech, from setting up fake pubs and recording in a "vehicular environment" to the ethical issues around how to make sure that impaired people are giving informed consent to participate (tip: ask them when they're still sober). Join us on Patreon to learn more, and get access to 52 other bonus episodes! You’ll also get access to our Discord server, where you can chat about your favourite Pokémon names with other language nerds! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/656826674919440384/lingthusiasm-episode-58-a-fun-filled-fricative
7/16/202139 minutes, 39 seconds
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57: Making machines learn Fon and other African languages - Interview with Masakhane

When you see something on social media in a language you don’t read, it’s really handy to have a quick and good-enough “click to translate” option. But despite the fact that 2000 of the world’s languages are African, machine translation and other language tech tools don’t yet exist for most of them. In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch interviews Jade Abbott and Bonaventure Dossou of Masakhane, a grassroots organisation whose mission is to strengthen and spur Natural Language Processing research in African languages, for Africans, by Africans. We talk about how they started working on language tech, Bona’s machine translator in Fon, and alternative models of participatory research and collective co-authorship. Announcements: This month’s bonus episode is about the linguistics of Pokémon names! Which sounds cuter, a Pikachu or a Charmander? Which sounds like it would be more likely to win in a fight, a Squirtle or a Blastoise? Even if you're not familiar with these pocket monsters, or if you're encountering new Pokémon you haven't heard of before, you might still have a vague sense of which names sound big or small, cuddly or powerful. This has lead to the creation of the delightful and entirely real linguistic subfield of Pokémonastics. https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Join us on Patreon to learn more, and get access to 51 other bonus episodes! You’ll also get access to our Discord server, where you can chat about your favourite Pokémon names with other language nerds! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Here are the links mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/654293595359182848/lingthusiasm-episode-57-making-machines-learn-fon
6/18/202137 minutes, 19 seconds
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56: Not NOT a negation episode

“I don’t have a pet dinosaur.” This sentence is, we assume, true for everyone listening to this episode (if it isn’t, uh, tell us your ways?). And yet it has a different feel to it than a more ordinary sentence like “I don’t have a cat”, the type of negated sentence that’s true for some people and not others. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about negation! We talk about how languages make sentences negative, how negation fits into the social side of conversation, and two ways you can make things super extra negative: negative concord (aka “French toast negation”) and negative polarity items (aka “Mean Girls negation”). Plus, a few sneak peeks from the upcoming book Highly Irregular by Arika Okrent, which is coming out on July 1, 2021 and which we are delighted to recommend. Announcements: This month’s bonus episode is a recording of our live show! When someone else is telling a story, you might encourage them to keep talking or to elaborate on a particular point by making various words, sounds, phrases, or gestures, such as "oh really?" and "mhm-hm" and nodding. This linguistic behaviour is known as backchannelling. Join us on Patreon to learn more, and to get access to 50 other bonus episodes. You’ll also get access to our Discord server to chat with other lingthusiasts! www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to everything mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/651742548840398848/lingthusiasm-episode-56-not-not-a-negation
5/20/202131 minutes, 40 seconds
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55: R and R-like sounds - Rhoticity

The letter R is just one symbol, but it can represent a whole family of sounds. In various languages, R can be made in various places, from the tip of your tongue to the back of your throat, and in various ways, from repeatedly trilling a small fleshy part against the rest of your mouth to an almost fully open mouth that’s practically a vowel. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about R and R-like sounds, technically known as rhotics, including English r, French r, Spanish r and rr, and more. We also talk about how the presence or absence of R is a feature that distinguishes certain accents: think Canadian vs Australian English, northern vs southern varieties of English in the UK and US, and northern vs southern varieties of Mandarin. Announcements: We’re doing a virtual live show! It’s on April 24, 2021 and you can get access to it by becoming a patron of Lingthusiasm at any level. The Lingthusiasm liveshow is part of LingFest, a fringe-festival-like programme of independently organized online linguistics events for the week of April 24 to May 2. See the LingFest website for details on other events. https://lingcomm.org/lingfest/ The week before LingFest is LingComm21, the International Conference on Linguistics Communication. LingComm21 is a small, highly interactive, virtual conference that brings together lingcommers from a variety of levels and backgrounds, including linguists communicating with public audiences and communicators with a “beat” related to language. Find out more about LingComm21. https://lingcomm.org/conference/ This month’s bonus episode is about talking to babies and small children! We talk about how the way babies are addressed differs across cultures, how people sometimes alter their speech subtly for babies even when they think they don't, and how infant-directed speech differs from similar genres like pet-directed speech. Join us on Patreon to get access to this, as well as 49 other bonus episodes - as well as a ticket for you and a friend to our upcoming liveshow! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to everything mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/648571714904670208/lingthusiasm-episode-55-r-and-r-like-sounds
4/15/202140 minutes, 45 seconds
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54: How linguists figure out the grammar of a language

If you go to the linguistics section of a big library, you may find some shelves containing thick, dusty grammars of various languages. But grammars, like dictionaries, don’t just appear out of nowhere -- they’re made by people, and those people bring their own interests and priorities to the process. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about the process of figuring out the structure of a language and writing it down -- making a kind of book called a descriptive grammar. We also talk about differences in grammar-writing traditions in the history of India, Europe, and China, and how the structures of Sanskrit, Latin, and Old Chinese influenced the kinds of things that their early grammarians noticed about language. Announcements: We’re doing a virtual live show! It’s on April 24, 2021 and you can get access to it by becoming a patron of Lingthusiasm at any level. The Lingthusiasm liveshow is part of LingFest, a fringe-festival-like programme of independently organized online linguistics events for the week of April 24 to May 2. See the LingFest website for details as more events trickle in. https://lingcomm.org/lingfest/ The week before LingFest is LingComm21, the International Conference on Linguistics Communication. LingComm21 is a small, highly interactive, virtual conference that brings together lingcommers from a variety of levels and backgrounds, including linguists communicating with public audiences and communicators with a “beat” related to language. Find out more about LingComm21. https://lingcomm.org/conference/ This month’s bonus episode is about reduplication! Have you eaten salad-salad, drunk milk-milk, or read a book-book lately? Or are you thinking something more along the lines of "salad, schmalad! milk, schmilk! books, schmooks!"? In either case, you're producing reduplication! We look at different forms and meanings of reduplication across various languages through the World Atlas of Linguistic Structures, why it's not called just "duplication", and delve into English reduplication via a classic among entertaining linguistics papers, the Salad-Salad Paper. Join us on Patreon to get access to this and 48 other bonus episodes - as well as the upcoming liveshow! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Here are the links mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/646033422056292352/lingthusiasm-episode-54-how-linguists-figure-out
3/18/202141 minutes, 16 seconds
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53: Listen to the imperatives episode!

When we tell you, “stay lingthusiastic!” at the end of every episode, we’re using a grammatical feature known as the imperative. But although it might be amusing to imagine ancient Roman emperors getting enthusiastic about linguistics, unlike Caesar we don’t actually have the ability to enforce this command. So although “stay lingthusiastic!” has the form of the imperative, it really has more the effect of a wish or a hope. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about the range of things that imperatives do in various languages. We also get excited about why imperatives are often one of the first verb forms that children learn, how imperatives make up the general “vibe” (aka mood) of a verb, and imperatives in the fairy-tale retelling Ella Enchanted. Announcements: We’re doing a virtual live show! It’s on April 24, 2021 and you can get access to it by becoming a patron of Lingthusiasm at any level. The Lingthusiasm liveshow is part of LingFest, a fringe-festival-like programme of independently organized online linguistics events for the week of April 24 to May 2. See the LingFest website for details as more events trickle in: https://lingcomm.org/lingfest The week before LingFest is LingComm21, the International Conference on Linguistics Communication. LingComm21 is a small, highly interactive, virtual conference that brings together lingcommers from a variety of levels and backgrounds, including linguists communicating with public audiences and communicators with a “beat” related to language. Find out more about LingComm21: https://lingcomm.org/conference/ This month’s bonus episode is a Q&A with us, your hosts! We get enthusiastic about answering your questions!, like: What do you think is the best food to name a dog after? If you had to remove a phoneme from English, which do you think would have the most interesting results? How do you keep up with linguistics research outside academia? We also talk about our recent news and upcoming plans for 2021, "tell me you're a linguist without telling me you're a linguist", and lots more great questions from the patron Discord. Become a Patreon now to get access to this and 47 other bonus episodes, as well us our upcoming live show! www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/643499852841582592/lingthusiasm-episode-53-listen-to-the-imperatives
2/18/202142 minutes, 2 seconds
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52: Writing is a technology

There’s no known human society without language, whether spoken or signed or both, but writing is a different story. Writing is a technology that has only been invented from scratch a handful of times: in ancient Sumeria (where it may have spread to ancient Egypt or been invented separately there), in ancient China, and in ancient Mesoamerica. Far more often, the idea of writing spreads through contact between one culture and its neighbours, even though the shape of the written characters and what they stand for can vary a lot as it spreads. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about writing systems, and how the structure and history of a language contribute to the massively multigenerational project of devising a writing system (a project which is still ongoing). We also talk about some of our favourite origin-of-writing system stories, including the invention of the Cherokee syllabary and Korean hangul. Announcements We’re just about to hit 100 Lingthusiasm episodes! If you’re wondering why this is only episode 52, that’s because the other half of them exist as bonus episodes on Patreon. It’s also been one year since we launched the Lingthusiasm Discord server, which has grown into a place where casual conversations about food and pets always have the potential to veer off into linguistics. There are always new people trickling into the Discord, so come by if you’re looking for a place to nerd out with fellow linguistics enthusiasts! https://lingthusiasm.com/discord This month’s bonus episode is outtake stories from Lingthusiasm interviews! We've interviewed lots of great linguists on Lingthusiasm, and sometimes there's a story or two that we just don't have space for in the main episode, so here's a bonus episode with our favourite outtakes! Think of it as a special bonus edition DVD of the past few years of Lingthusiasm with director's commentary and deleted scenes. Join us on Patreon to get access to this and 46 other bonus episodes! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to everything mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/640950463320260608/lingthusiasm-episode-52-writing-is-a-technology
1/21/202137 minutes, 48 seconds
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51: Small talk, big deal

“Cold enough for ya?” “Nice weather for ducks.” Small talk is a valuable piece of our social interactions -- it can be a way of having a momentary exchange with someone you don’t know very well or a bridge into getting to know someone better by figuring out which deeper conversational topics might be of mutual interest. In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about the science behind small talk: how we pick topics for small talk conversation, the fine art of media references from memes to movies, and our own tested strategies for dodging awkward small talk questions while keeping the conversation flowing, such as when you’re having a not-great time but don’t want to talk about it, and that ubiquitous linguist question “so, how many languages do you know?” This month’s bonus episode is a Q&A with lexicographer Emily Brewster of Merriam-Webster! Gretchen and Lauren get enthusiastic about the process of making dictionaries, posing your patron questions to lexicographer Emily Brewster of Merriam-Webster. We also talk about how lexicography has changed since dictionaries went online and in the era of social media, and the extremely esoteric process of getting lexicography jobs. Get all your lexicography questions answers, as well as access to 45 other bonus episodes by becoming a Patron! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Announcements Crash Course Linguistics videos are available now and coming out weekly! https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtP5mp25nStsuDzk2blncJDW Keep an eye out for them around 2pm North American Eastern Time on Fridays for the rest of 2020 (except a few holiday Fridays) and into early 2021. If you want to get an email each week with some further reading and practice exercises on each topic, you can also check out the companion issues of Mutual Intelligibility. https://mutualintelligibility.substack.com/ Become a Patron and get access to the Crash Course channel in the Lingthusiasm Discord to chat about each episode! https://lingthusiasm.com/discord For links to all the things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/637790657255227392/lingthusiasm-episode-51-small-talk-big-deal
12/17/202041 minutes, 18 seconds
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50: Climbing the sonority mountain from A to P

“Blick” is not a word of English. But it sounds like it could be, if someone told you a meaning for it. “Bnick” contains English sounds, but somehow it doesn’t feel very likely as an English word. “Lbick” and “Nbick” seem even less likely. What’s going on? In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about the underlying pattern behind how sounds fit together in various languages, what linguists call sonority. We can place sounds in a line -- or along the steps up a mountain -- according to how sonorous they are, and this lets us compare and contrast how languages put together their syllables. We also talk about the incredibly weird case of S. --- This month’s bonus episode is a behind the scenes look at the creation of Crash Course Linguistics! We’re joined by Jessi Grieser, the third member of our linguistics content team behind the scripts of Crash Course Linguistics. We talk about how we structured the syllabus of Crash Course Linguistics, how Gavagai came to be a recurring character in the series, finding our delightful host Taylor Behnke, and what it's like working with the awesome teams at Complexly and Thought Cafe. Get all the details and access to 44 other bonus episodes by becoming a Patron! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Announcements We’re coming up on Lingthusiasm’s fourth anniversary! In celebration, we’re asking you to help people who would totally enjoy listening to fun conversations about linguistics, they just don’t realize it exists yet! Most people still find podcasts through word of mouth, and we’ve seen a significant bump in listens each November when we ask you to help share the show, so we know this works. If you tag us @lingthusiasm on social media in your recommendation post, we will like/retweet/reshare/thank you as appropriate, or if you send a recommendation to a specific person, we won’t know about it but you can still feel a warm glow of satisfaction at helping out (and feel free to still tell us about it on social media if you’d like to be thanked!). Trying to think of what to say? One option is to pick a particular episode that you liked and share a link to that. Also, Crash Course Linguistics videos are coming out every Friday! Subscribe on YouTube, or sign up for Mutual Intelligibility email newsletters to get an email when each video comes out, along with exercises to practice the concepts and links for further reading. For links to the things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/635258033226776576/lingthusiasm-episode-50-climbing-the
11/19/202041 minutes, 28 seconds
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49: How translators approach a text

Before even starting to translate a work, a translator needs to make several important macro-level decisions, such as whether to more closely follow the literal structure of the text or to adapt more freely, especially if the original text does things that are unfamiliar to readers in the destination language but would be familiar to readers in the original language. In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about the relationship of the translator and the text. We talk about the new, updated translation of Beowulf by Maria Dahvana Headley (affectionately known as the "bro" translation), reading the Tale of Genji in multiple translations, translating conlangs in fiction, and mistranslation on the Scots Wikipedia. Announcements We’re coming up on Lingthusiasm’s fourth anniversary! In celebration, we’re asking you to help people who would totally enjoy listening to fun conversations about linguistics, they just don’t realize it exists yet! Most people still find podcasts through word of mouth, and we’ve seen a significant bump in listens each November when we ask you to help share the show, so we know this works. If you tag us @lingthusiasm on social media in your recommendation post, we will like/retweet/reshare/thank you as appropriate, or if you send a recommendation to a specific person, we won’t know about it but you can still feel a warm glow of satisfaction at helping out (and feel free to still tell us about it on social media if you’d like to be thanked!). Trying to think of what to say? One option is to pick a particular episode that you liked and share a link to that. This month’s bonus episode was about honorifics, words like titles and forms of “you” that express when you’re trying to be extra polite to someone (and which can also be subverted to be rude or intimate). Get access to this and 43 other bonus episodes at https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm This is also a good time to start thinking about linguistics merch and other potential gift ideas (paperback copies of Because Internet, anyone?), in time for them to arrive via the internet, if you’re ordering for the holiday season. Check out the Lingthusiasm merch store at https://lingthusiasm.com/merch For links mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/632086691477323776/lingthusiasm-episode-49-how-translators-approach
10/15/202033 minutes, 36 seconds
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48: Who you are in high school, linguistically speaking - Interview with Shivonne Gates

High school is a time when people really notice small social details, such as how you dress or what vowels you’re using. Making choices from among these various factors is a big way that we assert our identities as we’re growing up. For a particular group of students in the UK, they’re on the forefront of linguistic innovation using a variety known as Multicultural London English. In this episode, your host Lauren Gawne interviews Dr. Shivonne Gates, a linguist who wrote her dissertation on Multicultural London English and is currently a Senior Researcher at NatCen Social Research, Britain’s largest independent social research agency. We talk about her research on accents in the UK, doing collaborative research with young people, and linguistics research jobs outside of academia. This month’s bonus episode is about pangrams! Pangrams are sentences that contain all of the letters of the alphabet, like the famous "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" and the more obscure "Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow!". In this episode, Gretchen and Lauren get enthusiastic about pangrams and the further questions that they raise about the structure of various languages. How short can you get an English pangram without becoming incoherent? Which characters are hard to include in different languages? Do accented characters count as separate letters? What kinds of using-every-symbol writing can you make with non-alphabetic writing systems? Announcements: We have teamed up with Crash Course to write the 16 video series Crash Course Linguistics. We’re so excited to share this course with you! If you want to get an email when each of the Crash Course Linguistics videos comes out, along with exercises to practice the concepts and links for further reading, you can sign up for Mutual Intelligibility email newsletters. https://mutualintelligibility.substack.com/ We also have exciting new merch colours! Our International Phonetic Alphabet scarves and masks, notebooks, mugs, and socks are now available in Raspberry, Mustard, and Lilac with white IPA symbols. https://lingthusiasm.com/merch For links to everything mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/629556445433790464/lingthusiasm-episode-48-who-you-are-in-high
9/18/202044 minutes, 44 seconds
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47: The happy fun big adjective episode

Adjectives: they’re big, they’re fun, they’re...maybe non-existent? In English, we have a fairly straightforward category of adjectives: they’re words that can get described with a comparative or a superlative, such as “bigger” or “most fun”. But when we start looking across lots of languages, we find that some languages lump adjectives in with verbs, some with nouns, and some do different things altogether. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about adjectives! We talk about how linguists come up with diagnostic tests to determine whether something is an adjective, other quirks about adjectives (such as why we say “big red ball” but not “red big ball”), and the galaxy-brain question of whether grammatical categories like adjectives are even valid across all languages. -- This month’s bonus episode is about doing LingComm on a budget - plus the Lingthusiasm origin story! We got started doing linguistics communication when we were both broke grad students. We talk about the various stages we went through with launching our blogs, Superlinguo and All Things Linguistic, and of course this podcast a few years later! We give tips on how to come up with a topic, set a schedule, and promote your project, as well as the nitty-gritty details on free or low-cost ways to do things like registering a website and starting a blog, podcast, or youtube channel. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to get access to this and 40 other bonus episodes, and to chat with fellow lingthusiasts in the Lingthusiasm patron Discord https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Announcements: By popular demand, our IPA, Tree and Esoteric Symbol designs are now available on these new non-medical reusable fabric masks from Redbubble. On our store you’ll find the white IPA characters on black, red or navy, and the esoteric symbols in white on black or green on black. If you fancy another colour, or the tree design, we’ve made masks available on all of the scarf pages. Also check out our Schwa (Never Stressed) pins, IPA scarves, IPA socks, and more at RedBubble https://www.redbubble.com/people/lingthusiasm/shop?asc=u For links to everything mentioned in this episode go to: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/627014557132603392/change-audio-link-lingthusiasm-episode-47-the
8/20/202038 minutes, 26 seconds
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46: Hey, no problem, bye! The social dance of phatics

How are you? Thanks, no problem. Stock, ritualistic social phrases like these, which are used more to indicate a particular social context rather than for the literal meaning of the words inside have a name in linguistics -- they’re called phatics! In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about the social dance of phatic expressions. We talk about common genres of phatics, including greetings, farewells, and thanking; how ordinary phrases come to take on a social meaning versus how existing phatic expressions can become literal again; and how phatics differ across languages and mediums, including speech, letters, email, and social media. This month’s bonus episode is about music and linguistics! Both speech and music can involve making sounds using the human body, but they also have differences. Different cultures highlight the similarities and differences between music and language in various ways, which we’ve received lots of questions about! In this episode, we talk about how languages with tone deal differently with matching up those tones to musical pitches, mapping drums and whistles onto language sounds in order to communicate across long distances, using linguistics to analyze genres of music like opera and beatboxing, and that time Gretchen went on holiday and actually ended up getting a demonstration of the whistled language Silbo Gomero. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to get access to this and 40 other bonus episodes, and to chat with fellow lingthusiasts in the Lingthusiasm patron Discord. Announcements: Gretchen’s book about internet language, Because Internet, is available in paperback! It includes a section on phatic expressions in email and social media as well as lots of other things about how we talk to each other online, including emoji, memes, what internet generation you belong to, a small cameo from Lauren and Lingthusiasm, and more! You can also still get the audiobook version, read by Gretchen herself (no Lauren though, sorry). It also makes a great gift for anyone you communicate with online. For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/623851629729464320/lingthusiasm-episode-46-hey-no-problem-bye-the
7/17/202037 minutes, 43 seconds
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45: Tracing languages back before recorded history

Language is much older than writing. But audio and visual cues from sounds and signs don’t leave physical traces the way writing does. So when linguists want to figure out how people talked before history started being recorded, we need to engage in some careful detective work, by comparing two or more similar, known languages to (potentially!) reconstruct a hypothetical common ancestor. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about these prehistoric languages that historical linguists have reconstructed, known as proto-languages. We dive into some of our favourite proto-languages (Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Algonquian, Proto-Pama-Nyungan, and Proto-Bantu), look at their characteristic grammatical signatures, and explain what we can and can’t know about the people who spoke them based on their vocabularies. --- This months bonus episode is about doing linguistics with kids! Child language acquisition is a perennial source of entertainment for the linguistically-inclined – and so is helping any young people in your life develop an interest in linguistics. In this episode, we talk about some of our favourite things to observe about how kids are learning language as well as linguistically-relevant books for children, middle grade, and young adult. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to get access to this and 39 other bonus episodes, and to chat with fellow lingthusiasts in the Lingthusiasm patron Discord. Announcements: We are delighted to announce the winners of the 2020 LingComm Grants. Here are the project titles for the 4 grantees, and there’s more information about each project on the LingComm website, as well as two honourable mentions. We’re very excited to share more with you as they develop. https://lingcomm.org/ The Black Language Podcast (Anansa Benbow) Nonbinary Linguistics youtube channel (Nina Lorence-Ganong) Jazicharnica (Јазичарница) blog (Nina Tunteva and Viktorija Blazheska) War of Words podcast (Juana de los Santos; Angela Makeviciuz; Antonella Moschetti; Néstor Bermúdez) We had over 75 applications from around the world and we'd like to thank all applicants for making the job of deciding extremely difficult! New masks By popular demand, our IPA, Tree and Esoteric Symbol designs are now available on these new non-medical grade reusable fabric masks from Redbubble. On our store you’ll find the white IPA characters on black, red or navy, and the esoteric symbols in white on black or green on black. If you fancy another colour, or the tree design, we’ve made masks available on all of the scarf pages. https://www.redbubble.com/people/lingthusiasm --- For links to everything mentioned in this episode visit our shownotes page: https://lingthusiasm.com/
6/19/202038 minutes, 57 seconds
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44: Schwa, the most versatile English vowel

The words about, broken, council, potato, and support have something in common -- they all contain the same sound, even though they each spell it with a different letter. This sound is known as schwa, it's written as an upside-down lowercase e, and it has the unique distinction of being the only vowel with a cool name like that! (The other vowels are called, unglamorously, things like "high front unrounded vowel"). In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about why the schwa is cool enough to get its own name! We also talk about why the word schwa doesn't itself have a schwa in it, the origin of the word schwa in Hebrew and German, the relationship between schwa and "silent e", and how schwa contributes to an English-sounding accent in other languages. Schwa is also a big reason why English spelling is so difficult, because other vowels often become schwa when they’re not in a stressed syllable (giving rise to lots of jokes like “I wanna be a schwa, it’s never stressed). This month’s bonus episode is about numbers! We talk about fossilized number systems (which explain words like "eleven" and "twelve" in Germanic languages), counting gestures and different base systems in various languages (from base 6 to base 27), and indefinite hyperbolic numerals (words like "bazillion" and "umpteen"). Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to get access to the numbers episode, as well as 38 other bonus episodes, and to chat with fellow lingthusiasts in the Lingthusiasm patron Discord. We can all aspire to be a little less stressed, like our favourite English vowel. We've created new Schwa (Never Stressed) merch. Available in a floral garland, stylised geometric black on white and stylised geometric white on black. Pins, cards, mugs, and mobile phone cases. Art by Lucy Maddox www.lucymaddox.com. Lingthusiasm merch makes a great gift for yourself or other lingthusiasts! Also check out IPA scarves, IPA socks, and more at lingthusiasm.redbubble.com Lingthusiasm merch makes a great gift for yourself or other lingthusiasts! Check out IPA scarves, IPA socks, and more at lingthusiasm.redbubble.com Have a great idea for a linguistics communication project, but need a bit of money to get it off the ground? Looking to support emerging lingcomm projects? The LingComm Grant is four $500 grants for communicating linguistics to broader audiences in 2020. Applications close 1st of June 2020. Find out more and apply here. For all the links mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/618776884082360320/lingthusiasm-episode-44-schwa-the-most-versatile
5/22/202032 minutes, 17 seconds
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43: The grammar of singular they - Interview with Kirby Conrod

Using “they” to refer to a single person is about as old as using “you” to refer to a single person: for example, Shakespeare has a line “There's not a man I meet but doth salute me. As if I were their well-acquainted friend”, and the Oxford English Dictionary has citations for both going back to the 14th century. More recently, people have also been using singular they to refer to a specific person, as in “Alex left their umbrella”. In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch interviews Dr Kirby Conrod, a linguist who wrote their dissertation about the syntax and sociolinguistics of singular they. We talk about Kirby’s research comparing how people use third person pronouns (like they, she, and he) in a way that conveys social attitudes, like how some languages use formal and informal “you”, specific versus generic singular they, and how people go about changing their mental grammars for social reasons. --- This month’s bonus episode is about synesthesia, and research on various kinds of synesthesia, including the much-studied grapheme-colour, sound-colour, and time-space synesthesia, as well as rarer varieties such as Gretchen's attitude-texture synesthesia which she's never heard of anyone else having. Also, our producer Claire realized she was actually a synesthete while editing this episode! Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to the teaching linguistics episode and 37 previous bonus episodes, and to chat with fellow lingthusiasts in the Lingthusiasm patron Discord. Lingthusiasm merch makes a great gift for yourself or other lingthusiasts! Check out IPA scarves, IPA socks, and more at lingthusiasm.redbubble.com Have a great idea for a linguistics communication project, but need a bit of money to get it off the ground? Looking to support emerging lingcomm projects? The LingComm Grant is four $500 grants for communicating linguistics to broader audiences in 2020. Applications close 1st of June 2020. Find out more and apply at lingcomm.org For links to everything mentioned in this episode, go to https://lingthusiasm.com/post/615600862742609920/lingthusiasm-episode-43-the-grammar-of-singular
4/17/202042 minutes, 53 seconds
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42: What makes a language “easy”? It’s a hard question

Asking which language is the hardest to learn is like asking where the furthest place is – it all depends on where you start. And for babies, who start out not knowing any of them, all natural languages are eminently learnable – because otherwise they wouldn’t exist at all! In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about a common question: what are people really asking when they ask about “easy” or “hard” languages? It turns out that there are several things going on, including which languages you already know, whether you’re approaching a language as an adult or a child, and what sort of motivation and contexts to speak it you have. — This month’s bonus episode is about teaching linguistics, and how you can be your own best teacher even if you aren’t heading to university any time soon. We discuss ways to make learning about more than just terminology, how to get right into data from the beginning, and how to keep a clear picture of how linguistics is relevant to other things you’re studying or enjoying. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to the teaching linguistics episode and 36 previous bonus episodes, and to chat with fellow lingthusiasts in the Lingthusiasm patron Discord. New this month we’re also doing a couple listen-along chats in the Discord as well, so you can stream the episode at the same time as fellow lingthusiasts and chat with each other in the channel for that! https://patreon.com/lingthusiasm Lingthusiasm merch makes a great gift for yourself or other lingthusiasts! Check out IPA scarves, IPA socks, and more at lingthusiasm.redbubble.com — Have a great idea for a linguistics communication project, but need a bit of money to get it off the ground? Looking to support emerging lingcomm projects? The LingComm Grant is a $500 grant for communicating linguistics to broader audiences in 2020. If we reach 790 patrons by the 1st of May 2020, we’ll give out four grants instead of two. Applications close 1st of June 2020. Find out more and apply here. http://lingcomm.org/grant For links to everything mentioned in this episode, go to https://lingthusiasm.com/post/613058137097912320/lingthusiasm-episode-42-what-makes-a-language
3/19/202039 minutes, 42 seconds
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41: This time it gets tense - The grammar of time

How do languages talk about the time when something happens? Of course, we can use words like “yesterday”, “on Tuesday”, “once upon a time”, “now”, or “in a few minutes”. But some languages also require their speakers to use an additional small piece of language to convey time-related information, and this is called tense. In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne talk about when some languages obligatorily encode time into their grammar. We look at how linguists go about determining whether a language has tense at all, and if so, how many tenses it has, from two tenses (like English past and non-past), to three tenses (past, present, and future), to further tenses, like remote past and on-the-same-day. --- This month’s bonus episode is about what happens when the robots take over Lingthusiasm! In this extension of our interview with Janelle Shane from Episode 40, we train a neural net to generate new Lingthusiasm episodes and perform some of the most absurd ones for you. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to the Robot-Lingthusiasm episode and 35 previous bonus episodes, and to chat with fellow lingthusiasts in the Lingthusiasm patron Discord patreon.com/lingthusiasm Lingthusiasm merch makes a great gift for yourself or other lingthusiasts! Check out IPA scarves, IPA socks, and more at lingthusiasm.redbubble.com For the links mentioned in this episode, check out the shownotes page at https://lingthusiasm.com/post/190937079286/lingthusiasm-episode-41-this-time-it-gets-tense
2/20/202035 minutes, 25 seconds
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40: Making machines learn language - Interview with Janelle Shane

If you feed a computer enough ice cream flavours or pictures annotated with whether they contain giraffes, the hope is that the computer may eventually learn how to do these things for itself: to generate new potential ice cream flavours or identify the giraffehood status of new photographs. But it’s not necessarily that easy, and the mistakes that machines make when doing relatively silly tasks like ice cream naming or giraffe identification can illuminate how artificial intelligence works when doing more serious tasks as well. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne interview Dr Janelle Shane, author of You Look Like A Thing And I Love You and person who makes AI do delightfully weird experiments on her blog and twitter feed. We talk about how AI “sees” language, what the process of creating AI humour is like (hint: it needs a lot of human help to curate the best examples), and ethical issues around trusting algorithms. Finally, Janelle helped us turn one of the big neural nets on our own 70+ transcripts of Lingthusiasm episodes, to find out what Lingthusiasm would sound like if Lauren and Gretchen were replaced by robots! This part got so long and funny that we made it into a whole episode on its own, which is technically the February bonus episode, but we didn’t want to make you wait to hear it, so we’ve made it available right now! This bonus episode includes a more detailed walkthrough with Janelle of how she generated the Robo-Lingthusiasm transcripts, and live-action reading of some of our favourite Robo-Lauren and Robo-Gretchen moments. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to the Robo-Lingthusiasm episode and 35 previous bonus episodes. patreon.com/lingthusiasm Also for our patrons, we’ve made a Lingthusiasm Discord server – a private chatroom for Lingthusiasm patrons! Chat about the latest Lingthusiasm episode, share other interesting linguistics links, and geek out with other linguistics fans. (We even made a channel where you can practice typing in the International Phonetic Alphabet, if that appeals to you!) To see the links mentioned in this episode, check out the shownotes page at https://lingthusiasm.com/post/190298658151/lingthusiasm-episode-40-making-machines-learn
1/17/202044 minutes, 14 seconds
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39: How to rebalance a lopsided conversation

Why do some conversations seems to flow really easily, while other times, it feels like you can’t get a word in edgewise, or that the other person isn’t holding up their end of the conversation? In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne have a conversation about the structure of conversations! Conversation analysts talk about a spectrum of how we take turns in conversation: some people are more high-involvement, while other people are more high-considerateness, depending on how much time you prefer to elapse between someone else’s turn and your own. These differences explain a lot about when conversations feel like they’re going off the rails and how to bring them back on track. — This month’s bonus episode is about onomatopoeia! We talk about words that take their inspiration from the sounds and experiences of the world around us, and how these words vary across languages. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to the onomatopoeia episode and 33 previous bonus episodes. patreon.com/lingthusiasm Lingthusiasm merch makes a great gift for yourself or other lingthusiasts! Check out IPA scarves, IPA socks, and more at lingthusiasm.com/merch For more links to everything mentioned in this episode, check out the shownotes at https://lingthusiasm.com/post/189762810146/lingthusiasm-episode-39-how-to-rebalance-a
12/19/201933 minutes, 25 seconds
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38: Many ways to talk about many things - Plurals, duals and more

In English you have one book, and three books. In Arabic you have one kitaab, and three kutub. In Nepali it’s one kitab, and three kitabharu, but sometimes it’s three kitab. In this episode of Lingthusiasm, Gretchen and Lauren look at the many ways that languages talk about how many of something there are, ranging from common distinctions like singular, plural, and dual, to more typologically rare forms like the trial, the paucal, and the associative plural. (And the mysterious absence of the quadral, cross-linguistically!) It’s also our anniversary episode! We’re celebrating three years of Lingthusiasm by asking you to share your favourite fact you’ve learnt from the podcast. Share it on social media and tag @lingthusiasm if you’d like us to reshare it for other people, or just send it directly to someone who you think needs a little more linguistics in their life. This month’s bonus episode was about reading fiction as a linguist! Check out our favourite recs for linguistically interesting fiction and get access to 30+ additional episodes if you’ve run out of lingthusiasm to listen to, by becoming a member on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links and more go to https://lingthusiasm.com/post/189218282891/lingthusiasm-episode-38-many-ways-to-talk-about
11/21/201932 minutes, 32 seconds
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37: Smell words, both real and invented

What’s your favourite smell? You might say something like the smell of fresh ripe strawberries, or the smell of freshly-cut grass. But if we asked what your favourite colour is, you might say red or green, but you wouldn’t say the colour of strawberries or grass. Why is it that we have so much more vocabulary for colours than for scents? In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about language and smell! We discuss research into how languages describe scents, colour-odour synesthesia, and how researchers go about doing experiments on smell vocabulary (featuring the gloriously-named Sniffin’ Sticks). Plus, we talk about how Lauren invented a scent-focused language for a YA fantasy novel! The book is called Shadowscent in the US or The Darkest Bloom in the UK, and it’s by PM Freestone. Lauren created the Aramteskan language that appears in the book. We discuss what it is like to work on a constructed language for a novel, and how Lauren brought her knowledge of linguistics into the creation of this language. -- November is our official anniversary month! To celebrate three years of Lingthusiasm, we’re asking you, our listeners, to share your favourite fact from the show! This helps people who need more linguistics in their lives realize that this is a place where they can get it, and helps show us what people find interesting. If you share on social media, tag us (@lingthusiasm) so we can thank you and reshare it. We also have new merch! All of the Lingthusiasm merch makes a great gift for the linguist or language fan in your life, and we love seeing your photos of it! See photos of our new socks, greeting cards, glottal bottles, and t-shirts that say LINGUISTIC "CORRECTNESS" IS JUST A LIE FROM BIG GRAMMAR TO SELL MORE GRAMMARS at redbubble.com/lingthusiasm This month’s bonus episode is about surnames! We share the history of our own surnames, how different cultures approach naming, and when people change names. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to the directions episode and 31 previous bonus episodes. patreon.com/lingthusiasm For the links mentioned in this episode, go to the shownotes page at https://lingthusiasm.com/post/188414891881/lingthusiasm-episode-37-smell-words-both-real
10/17/201936 minutes, 25 seconds
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36: Villages, gifs, and children: Researching signed languages in real-world contexts with Lynn Hou

Larger, national signed languages, like American Sign Language and British Sign Language, often have relatively well-established laboratory-based research traditions, whereas smaller signed languages, such as those found in villages with a high proportion of deaf residents, aren’t studied as much. When we look at signed languages in the context of these smaller communities, we can also think more about how to make research on larger sign languages more natural as well. In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch interviews Dr Lynn Hou, an Assistant Professor of linguistics at the University of California Santa Barbara, in our first bilingual episode (ASL and English). Lina researches how signed languages are used in real-world environments, which takes her from analyzing American Sign Language in youtube videos to documenting how children learn San Juan Quiahije Chatino Sign Language (in collaboration with Hilaria Cruz, one of our previous interviewees!). We’re very excited to bring you our first bilingual episode in ASL and English! For the full experience, make sure to watch the video version of this episode at youtube.com/lingthusiasm (and check out our previous video episode on gesture in spoken language while you’re there). Check out the shownotes page to get the links mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/187829933341/lingthusiasm-episode-36-villages-gifs-and
9/20/201939 minutes, 40 seconds
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35: Putting sounds into syllables is like putting toppings on a burger

Sometimes a syllable is jam-packed with sounds, like the single-syllable word “strengths”. Other times, a syllable is as simple as a single vowel or consonant+vowel, like the two syllables in “a-ha!” It’s kind of like a burger: you might pack your burger with tons of toppings, or go as simple as a patty by itself on a plate, but certain combinations are more likely than others. For example, an open-face burger, with only the bottom half of the bun, is less weird than a burger with only the top half. In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about syllables. Why aren’t there any English words that begin with “ng”, even though Vietnamese is perfectly happy to have them? Why do Spanish speakers pronounce the English word “Sprite” more like “Esprite”? Why did English speakers re-analyze Greek helico-pter into heli-copter? Plus more about how different languages prefer different things in their syllable-burgers and what happens when these preferences collide. This month’s bonus episode is about metaphors! Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to the metaphors episode and 29 previous bonus episodes. https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Today is the final day for two things related to Because Internet, Gretchen’s book about internet linguistics (which is out now and you can get it!). 1. Send us your questions about Because Internet, internet language, or the process of writing a book for a special bonus behind the scenes Q&A episode about the book! 2. Join our new “ling-phabet” tier on Patreon by August 15th in any timezone (you may get a few hours into August 16th if you’re lucky!) and get a signed Because Internet bookplate sticker with your name on it in the mail! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links and things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/187039068846/lingthusiasm-episode-35-putting-sounds-into
8/16/201929 minutes, 28 seconds
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34: Emoji are Gesture Because Internet

Emoji make a lot of headlines, but what happens when you actually drill down into the data for how people integrate emoji into our everyday messages? It turns out that how we use emoji has a surprising number of similarities with how we use gesture. In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about emoji, and how gesture studies can bring us to a better understanding of these new digital pictures. We also talk about how we first came to notice the similarities between emoji and gesture, including a behind-the-scenes look into chapter five of Gretchen’s book about internet linguistics, Because Internet (the chapter in which Lauren makes a cameo appearance!) Speaking of which, that’s right, Because Internet, Gretchen’s long-anticipated book about internet linguistics, is coming out this Tuesday! (That’s July 23, 2019, if you’re reading this from the future.) If you like the fun linguistics we do on Lingthusiasm, you’ll definitely like this book! Preorders and the first week or two of sales are super important to the lifespan of a book, because they’re its best chance of hitting any sort of bestseller list, so we’d really appreciate it if you got it now! Go to gretchenmcculloch.com/book for ordering links! We’re planning a special bonus Patreon Q&A episode with behind the scenes info on Because Internet and the book writing process once it’s out, so send us your questions at [email protected] or on social media by August 15th to be part of this bonus episode! We also have a new tier on Patreon! For $15 or more, join the Ling-phabet tier and get your name and favourite IPA symbol or other special character on our Lingthusiasm Supporters Wall of Fame! Plus, join the new $15 tier by August 15th, and get a free Because Internet bookplate signed by Gretchen with your name on it and sent to you in the mail, so you can stick it inside of your copy of Because Internet (or anywhere else you like to put stickers). patreon.com/lingthusiasm As usual, we also have a bonus episode for the $5 Patreon tier, and this month’s bonus episode is about family words! Aka familects, these are the unique words that you create and use within your family. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to the familects episode and 28 previous bonus episodes. patreon.com/lingthusiasm For the links mentioned in this episode, visit the shownotes page at: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/186386270916/lingthusiasm-episode-34-emoji-are-gesture-because
7/18/201930 minutes, 30 seconds
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33: Why spelling is hard — but also hard to change

Why does “gh” make different sounds in “though” “through” “laugh” “light” and “ghost”? Why is there a silent “k” at the beginning of words like “know” and “knight”? And which other languages also have interesting historical artefacts in their spelling systems? Spelling systems are kind of like homes – the longer you’ve lived in them, the more random boxes with leftover stuff you start accumulating. In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about spelling, and celebrate the reasons that it’s sometimes so tricky. We then dive into quirks from some of our favourite spelling systems, including English, French, Spanish, Tibetan, and Arabic. This month’s bonus episode is about direction words! When you’re giving directions, do you tell someone to go north, left, or towards the sea? In this bonus episode, e talk with Alice Gaby about how different languages use different direction words. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to the directions episode and 27 previous bonus episodes. Because Internet, Gretchen’s book about internet linguistics, is coming out next month, and if you like the fun linguistics we do for Lingthusiasm, you’ll definitely like this book! You can preorder it here in hardcover, ebook, or audiobook (read by Gretchen herself) – preorders are really important because they signal to the publisher that people are excited about linguistics, so they should print lots of copies! We really appreciate your preorders (and you can look forward to a special Q&A episode with behind the scenes info on Because Internet once it’s out!) For links mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/185735719586/lingthusiasm-episode-33-why-spelling-is-hard
6/20/201932 minutes, 22 seconds
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32: You heard about it but I was there - Evidentiality

Sometimes, you know something for sure. You were there. You witnessed it. And you want to make sure that anyone who hears about it from you knows that you’re a direct source. Other times, you weren’t there, but you still have news. Maybe you found it out from someone else, or you pieced together a couple pieces of indirect evidence. In that case, you don’t want to overcommit yourself. When you pass the information on, you want to qualify it with how you found out, in case it turns out not to be accurate. In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about how we come to know things, and how different languages let us talk about this. Some languages, like English, give us the option of adding extra adverbs and clauses, like “I’m sure that” or “I was told that” or “maybe” or “apparently”. In other languages, like Syuba, indicating how you’ve come to know something is baked right into the grammar. We also talk about what this means for how kids learn languages and how English might evolve more evidentials. This month’s bonus episode is about talking to animals! Making animals learn human language has not generally worked out as well as people have hoped, but the attempts are still very interesting! Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to the animals episode and 26 previous bonus episodes. patreon.com/lingthusiasm -- Merch update! Have you ever browsed the "Insert Symbol" menu just for fun? Do you stay up late reading Wikipedia articles about obscure characters? Or do you just…somehow…know a little bit too much about Unicode? Introducing the new ESOTERIC SYMBOLS scarves! We've hand-picked and arranged in a pleasing array our favourite symbols from the editing, logic, music, game piece, punctuation, mathematics, currency, shapes, planets, arrows, and Just Plain Looks Cool sections of Unicode! Including fan favourites like: the interrobang ‽ multiocular o ꙮ the old school b&w snowman, the pilcrow ¶ the one-em, two-em AND three-em dashes And yes, the classic Unicode error diamond with question mark itself � We're also very excited to announce that all our scarf designs (IPA, trees, and esoteric symbols) are now available on mugs and notebooks, for those who prefer to show off their nerdery in household object rather than apparel form. By popular demand, we've made LITTLE LONGITUDINAL LANGUAGE ACQUISITION PROJECT onesies and kiddy tshirts available for everyone! Available in Mum's, Dad's, Mom's, and without possessor marking (because it turns out that there are a LOT of kinship terms). Get them at: https://redbubble.com/people/lingthusiasm/ Here are the links mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/184928796346/lingthusiasm-episode-32-you-heard-about-it-but-i
5/16/201933 minutes, 20 seconds
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31: Pop culture in Cook Islands Māori - Interview with Ake Nicholas

When a language is shifting from being spoken by a whole community to being spoken only by older people, it’s crucial to get the kids engaged with the language again. But kids don’t always appreciate the interests of their elders, especially when global popular culture seems more immediately exciting. One idea? Make stories from pop culture, featuring characters like Dumbledore and Batman, but in the local language. In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch interviews Dr Ake Nicholas, a linguist and native speaker of Cook Islands Māori, the lesser known relative of New Zealand Māori. Ake combines her her work as a Lecturer at Massey University, Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa, University of New Zealand, with having her students create resources for young Cook Islands Maori learners, especially video stories from pop culture. We also talk about Kōhanga Reo, or language nests, a method for language revitalization that was first developed for New Zealand Māori and has spread around the world, and the social situations around Cook Islands Māori and New Zealand Māori. This month’s bonus episode is about how people in the media know how to pronounce names correctly. It’s an interview with Tiger Webb, who makes the pronunciation guide for the ABC, recorded at our liveshow in Sydney. We get enthusiastic about words, style guides, emoji and more! Lauren and Tiger also quiz Gretchen on whether she’s learned any Australianisms on her visit to Australia, and Gretchen fires back with a few Canadianisms of her own. Feel like you’re in a cosy room of friendly linguistics enthusiasts by supporting Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to this and 26 more bonus episodes. patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to everything mentioned in this episode, including a map of the Cook Islands and the videos that Ake's students made, go to https://lingthusiasm.com/post/184283009071/lingthusiasm-episode-31-pop-culture-in-cook
4/19/201939 minutes, 55 seconds
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30: Why do we gesture when we talk?

This episode is also available as a special video episode so you can see the gestures! Go to youtube.com/lingthusiasm or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8dHtr7uLHs to watch it! When you describe to someone a ball bouncing down a hill, one of the easiest ways to make it really clear just how much the ball bounced would be to gesture the way that it made its way downwards. You might even do the gesture even if you’re talking to the other person on the telephone and they can’t see you. No matter what language you speak, you’re likely to gesture, but that doesn’t mean we all gesture the same. In Lingthusiasm’s very first video episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about gesture in a format where you can actually see what gestures we’re talking about! In particular, we talk about the kinds of gestures that we make at the same time as our words, even when no one can see us (Ever gesture on the phone? You’re not alone!) These gestures, called co-speech gestures, let us reinforce the rhythm of what we’re saying and indicate where or how something is moving. We also talk about how kids learn to gesture as they’re learning to speak, and how gestures differ in different languages. Massive thank you to our patrons for making this special video episode possible! Producing video is not a trivial task for a production team that’s used to audio-only, and your support on Patreon directly enabled us to film, edit, and caption this video, so everyone gets to learn about gesture linguistics without the frustration of not actually seeing what gestures we’re talking about! You’re stellar human beings and we appreciate you greatly. If you’d like to help Lingthusiasm keep producing regular ad-free episodes and cool additional features like this gesture video, become one of our patrons on Patreon. Plus, if you pledge $5 or more per month, you also get access to a monthly bonus episode and our entire archive of 25 bonus episodes right now. That’s so much Lingthusiasm you don’t wanna miss out on! The latest Patreon bonus episode asks, do you adjust the way you talk depending on who you’re talking to? There’s a word for that: linguistic accommodation. In Bonus 25, Gretchen talks with our producer Claire Gawne (yes, she’s Lauren’s sister) about how they’ve shifted their accents between Melbourne, Montreal, and Edinburgh. Plus, some behind-the-scenes on how Lingthusiasm gets made. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to listen to it! patreon.com/lingthusiasm For more information and all the links mentioned in this episode, go to https://lingthusiasm.com/post/183615937296/lingthusiasm-episode-30-why-do-we-gesture-when-we
3/21/201933 minutes, 18 seconds
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29: The verb is the coat rack that the rest of the sentence hangs on

Some sentences have a lot of words all relating to each other, while other sentences only have a few. The verb is the thing that makes the biggest difference: it’s what makes “I gave you the book” sound fine but “I rained you the book” sound weird. Or on the flip side, “it’s raining” is a perfectly reasonable description of a general raining event, but “it’s giving” doesn’t work so well as some sort of general giving event. How can we look for patterns in the ways that verbs influence the rest of the sentence? In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about a new metaphor for how verbs relate to the other words in a sentence -- a verb is like a coat rack and the nouns that it supports are like the coats that hang on it. Admittedly, it creates some slightly odd-looking coat racks that you might not actually want in your home, but as a metaphor it works quite well. (We’ll stick to linguistics rather than becoming furniture designers.) We also take you through a brief tour of other metaphors for verbs and sentences, including going across (aka transitivity) and molecular bonds (aka valency). This month’s bonus episode is a recording from our liveshow in Melbourne, Australia, where we talk about how the internet is making English better with real audience laughter occasionally in the background! Feel like you’re in a cosy room of friendly linguistics enthusiasts by supporting Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to this and 23 previous bonus episodes. lingthusiasm.com/patreon Internet language is also the topic of Gretchen’s book, Because Internet, which is now officially available for preorder! You can show the publisher that people are interested in fun linguistics books and have a delightful treat waiting for you on July 23, 2019 by preordering it here! gretchenmcculloch.com/book For links to more topics mentioned in this episode, check out the shownotes page at https://lingthusiasm.com/post/182969748701/lingthusiasm-episode-29-the-verb-is-the-coat-rack
2/22/201938 minutes, 5 seconds
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28: How languages influence each other - Hannah Gibson interview on Swahili, Rangi & Bantu languages

The Rift Valley area of central and northern Tanzania is the only area where languages from all four African language families are found (Bantu, Cushitic, Nilotic, and Khoisan). Languages in this area have been in contact with each other for a long time, especially in the minds of bi- and multilingual speakers, so it’s a really interesting place to learn more about why and how languages influence each other. In this episode, your host Lauren Gawne interviews Dr. Hannah Gibson, a Lecturer in the Department of Language and Linguistics at the University of Essex, about her work on how word order differences between Rangi and Swahili, both Bantu languages, are related to the different languages that they’ve been in contact with. They also get enthusiastic about Bantu languages in general and especially how the famous Bantu noun class system works. (Swahili, for example, has 16 different noun classes. including humans, natural things that aren’t human, abstract nouns, places, and words that begin with ki-.) This month’s bonus episode was about naming people, a topic which has been on Lauren’s mind a lot recently! Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to this and over 20 previous bonus episodes. patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to everything mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/182098995651/lingthusiasm-episode-28-how-languages-influence
1/18/201935 minutes, 5 seconds
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27: Words for family relationships: Kinship terms

There are certain things that human societies, and therefore languages, have in common. We have the same basic inventory of body parts, which affect both the kinds of movements we can make to produce words and the names we have for our meat-selves. We’re all living on a watery ball of rock and fire, orbiting a large ball of gas. And we all arrived on this planet by means of other humans, and form societies to help each other stick around. Sometimes, we even bring into existence further tiny humans. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about the special vocabulary that exists across languages for people you’re related to. Kinship terms are a fascinating area of commonality and variation: on the one hand, all languages seem to have ways of distinguishing family (both chosen and biological) from non-family. But on the other hand, there’s a wide degree of variation in the exact relationships that languages have words for, and this provides an interesting window into which relationships a culture thinks of as important. Languages can split up or lump together kinship relationships by age, generation, gender, clan, marriage, linguistic history, honorific extension, personal choice, and more. We also get into why words like “mama” and “papa” are so similar across languages, the surprisingly recent history of the word “sibling,” and the current rise in offshoots like “nibling” and “pibling.” This month’s bonus episode was a Q&A session from when Gretchen was in Melbourne with Lauren, and it’s available in both the normal audio form and a surprise video version! (We were testing out the camera situation ahead of the upcoming gesture video episode.) Find out about how ears work, fun linguistic games, whether some languages change faster than others, the Australianisms that Gretchen has recently learned, and a behind-the-scenes look into how the liveshows went and future Lingthusiasm plans. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to this and 21 previous bonus episodes: https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links to everything mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/181276164046/lingthusiasm-episode-27-words-for-family
12/20/201834 minutes, 57 seconds
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26: Why do C and G come in hard and soft versions? Palatalization

A letter stands for a sound. Or at least, it’s supposed to. Most of the time. Unless it’s C or G, which each stand for two different sounds in a whole bunch of languages. C can be soft, as in circus or acacia, or hard, as in the other C in circus or acacia. G can be hard, as in gif, or soft, as in gif. Why can C and G be hard or soft? And why don’t other letters come in hard and soft versions? In this episode of the podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about the group of sounds that are pronounced with the back part of the roof of your mouth, aka the palate. When one sound in a word is produced at the palate, it tends to pull neighbouring sounds towards the palate as well, and this palatal attraction explains so many weird mismatches of sound and spelling. Why can C and G be hard and soft? Why do T and D sometimes get different pronunciations as well, as in nation and didja? Why are Irish and Scottish Gaelic names spelled that way? Why is it so hard to spell the clipped forms of “usual” and “casual”? How are cheese and cacio e pepe and queso and Käse all related? This month’s bonus episode was about how to have fun at (or just survive) academic conferences. Whether you’re new to academic conferences, or have never been to one and want to know how they’re different from other large gatherings like conventions, this episode has all the info! Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to this and 20 previous bonus episodes: https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm This is also our anniversary episode! Whether you’ve been with us for the whole two years or you’ve joined us more recently, we’re glad you’re here. Thank you to everyone who has helped bring the show to more language fans in honour of our anniversary. There’s still a bit of time to get your name on the special thank you post and help more people get a fun language thing in their ears by recommending Lingthusiasm on social media before the end of the month. For links to everything mentioned in this episode visit https://lingthusiasm.com/post/180153994181/lingthusiasm-episode-26-why-do-c-and-g-come-in
11/16/201834 minutes, 38 seconds
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25: Every word is a real word

squishable, blobfish, aaarggghh, gubernatorial, apple lovers, ain’t, tronc, wug, toast, toast, toast, toast, toast. All of these are words that someone, somewhere has asserted aren’t real words – or maybe aren’t even words at all. But we don’t point at a chair or a tree and assert that it’s not a word. Of course it’s not! That would be absurd. So why, then, do people feel called to question the wordhood of actual words? In this episode of the funnest* podcast about linguistics, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch take you on a tour through what’s really going on when people say that a word isn’t a word. (*Funnest is definitely a real word, and so are all the others.) We’re heading into our second anniversary! That’s two whole years of linguistics enthusiasm delivered right to your ears every month (twice a month for patrons). To celebrate, we want to share the show with more people! Most people find podcasts through word of mouth, and there are people out there who would be totally into a lively deep-dive into how language works, they just don’t know it exists yet. They need you to save them from their dreary, un-lingthusiastic lives! At our anniversary last year, we thanked over 100 people for their recs, and this year we want to thank even more! Here’s what to do: post about why you like Lingthusiasm on social media (or link to your rec elsewhere, such as a blog or podcast), make sure to tag us in your rec so we can find it, and your name will live on in perpetuity on our special second anniversary thank you post! This month’s bonus episode was about bringing up bilingual babies! We get enthusiastic about various ways to raise children who speak more than one language when you’re stuck in a mostly-monolingual society: the one-parent, one language method, immersion schools, and speaking different languages at home and in the public sphere. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to this and 19 previous bonus episodes: https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm In November, we’re doing two liveshows! We’ll be in Sydney at GiantDwarf on Monday the 12th of November, and State Library of Victoria in Melbourne on Friday the 16th of November. Both events will be Auslan interpreted. For more details and how to book tickets check out our liveshow page: http://www.lingthusiasm.com/show We also have new merch! Alongside the Space Babies, new children’s clothing and new colours for the IPA scarves, we also have IPA ties! Check out our Merch page for more details: http://lingthusiasm.com/merch For links to things mentioned in the episode and more details about all of the above, head to the shownotes page: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/179193327461/lingthusiasm-episode-25-every-word-is-a-real-word
10/18/201837 minutes, 31 seconds
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24: Making books and tools speak Chatino - Interview with Hilaria Cruz

As English speakers, we take for granted that we have lots of resources available in our language, from children’s books to dictionaries to automated tools like Siri and Google Translate. But for the majority of the world’s languages, this is not the case. In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch interviews Dr Hilaria Cruz, a linguist and native speaker of Chatino, an Indigenous language of Mexico which is spoken by over 40,000 people. Hilaria combines her work as an Assistant Professor of linguistics at the University of Louisville, Kentucky with creating resources for her fellow speakers of Chatino, everything from paperback or cloth children’s books to high-tech speech recognition tools which will make it easier to create more resources like this in the future. And she’s also making these resources available for other underrepresented languages! -- There were two big announcements at the top of the episode: The first is that we have a date for our liveshow in Melbourne! We will be at the State Library of Victoria on Friday the 16th of November. We are also thrilled to announce we’ll be doing a liveshow in Sydney! We’ll be at GiantDwarf on Monday the 12th of November. For tickets to both, check out lingthusiasm.com/show We also have new merch! Thanks to Lucy Maddox for bringing Space Babies to life! Check out the art in this post. A portion of the proceeds from the Space Baby merch will be donated to the Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity. We also have new scarf colours, and t-shirts that say “I want to be the English schwa. It’s never stressed.” Check out our Merch page for more details. lingthusiasm.com/merch The bonus episode this month was about hyperforeignisms! We take an international tour through how our minds deal with the interesting edge cases of words that are kinda-English and kinda-other-languages. Listen to it and 18 previous bonus episodes, and support the show at patreon.com/lingthusiasm To see the links mentioned in this episode, including the photos of the Chatino children's books, check out the shownotes page at https://lingthusiasm.com/post/178291633331/lingthusiasm-episode-24-making-books-and-tools
9/20/201838 minutes, 16 seconds
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23: When nothing means something

When we think about language, we generally think about things that are visible or audible: letters, sounds, signs, words, symbols, sentences. We don’t often think about the lack of anything. But little bits of silence or invisibility are found surprisingly often throughout our linguistic system, from the micro level of an individual sound or bit of meaning to the macro level of sentences and conversations. In this episode of the podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about four different kinds of linguistic nothings: silence in between turns, silence in between sounds, invisible units of meaning, and invisible words. (Officially known as turntaking, glottal stops, zero morphemes, and traces.) We also announced some details about our upcoming liveshow! Our last liveshow was in Montreal where Gretchen lives, so it’s only fair that our next official show is in Lauren’s hometown of Melbourne! It’ll be sometime in November. Stay tuned for the exact date and venue - you can sign up for Lingthusiasm email updates if you want to be sent it directly: bit.ly/LingthusiasmEmailList Gretchen will also be around for the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language Summer School in Canberra and the annual Australian Linguistics Society conference in Adelaide. If anyone else in Australia wants to invite her to anything in November or early December 2018, now’s your chance! This month’s bonus episode was an inside view into the linguistics conference circuit which Lauren and Gretchen are recently returned from, featuring emoji, gesture, and the International Congress of Linguists! Support the show on Patreon to get access to this and all 18 bonus episodes. patreon.com/lingthusiasm For the full shownotes with links to everything mentioned in this episode, go to https://lingthusiasm.com/post/177070997956/lingthusiasm-episode-23-when-nothing-means
8/16/201835 minutes, 25 seconds
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22: This, that and the other thing - Determiners

When linguists think about complicated words, we don’t think about rare, two-dollar words like “defenestration”. Instead, we think about the kinds of words that you use all the time without even thinking about it, like “the”. You might not already know that defenestration refers to throwing something out of a window, but once you find out, it’s easy to explain. But what does “the” mean? And, for that matter, what kind of a word even is “the”? If you think back to when you learned about nouns and verbs, you might have been told that “the” was an article. But this brings us to a circular question, which is, what exactly is an article, other than “that thing that ‘the’ is”? In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about a bigger-picture answer to the question of how “the” works, one that joins together a bunch of words that might not seem related at first glance, including the, that, each, my, and five. Welcome to one of our favourite word classes: the determiner! Determiners are probably the most underrated word class. We use them all the time, and linguists have been talking about them by this name as a unified category for nearly a full century, and yet they’re still rarely discussed outside linguistics. That’s a shame, because determiners are also a really interesting way that languages differ from each other. To see this episode's shownotes, go to https://lingthusiasm.com/post/176067102571/lingthusiasm-episode-22-this-that-and-the-other
7/19/201836 minutes, 8 seconds
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21: What words sound spiky across languages? Interview with Suzy Styles

Most of the time, a word is an arbitrary label: there’s no particular reason why a cat has to be associated with the particular string of sounds in the word “cat”, and indeed other languages have different words for the same animal. But sometimes it may not be so arbitrary. Take these two shapes: a sharp, spiky 🗯 and a soft, rounded 💭 and these two names: “bouba” and “kiki”. If you had to assign one name to each shape, which would you pick? (Here’s a pause to let you think about it.) If you said that the spiky shape was kiki and the round shape was bouba, you’re like 90% of English speakers who answer this question. But does this work the same way for speakers of other languages? What about languages that don’t have a /b/ or a /k/ sound, or that have other features, like tone? In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your host Lauren Gawne talks with guest linguist Dr Suzy Styles about how language interacts with your other senses like vision and touch, and doing research across different cultures and languages. Suzy is an Assistant Professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and runs the BLIP (Brain Language Intersensory Processing) lab. This month’s bonus episode on Patreon is about forensic linguistics. Gretchen and Lauren discuss the reasons why you might see a linguist in a courtroom, and whether Gretchen could write a note and convince people it was from Lauren. The least crime-filled crime podcast episode you’ll ever listen to! Listen and support the show at patreon.com/lingthusiasm We also announced two new Patreon funding goals, the first ($2,000) is to film our first video episode, taking a look at gesture. The second ($2,500) is to film at least one video interview discussing signed languages with a deaf linguist. We’re excited by the possibility of making these video episodes about linguistic topics that are a bit hard to convey in audio-only form! To see images of the bouba/kiki test and more links related to this episode, go to the shownotes page at https://lingthusiasm.com/post/175127239183/21-what-words-sound-spiky-across-languages
6/22/201837 minutes, 37 seconds
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20: Speaking Canadian and Australian English in a British-American binary

Australian and Canadian English don’t sound much alike, but they have one big similarity: they’re both national varieties that tend to get overshadowed by their more famous siblings. In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch use Lynne Murphy’s new book The Prodigal Tongue as a guide to the sometimes prickly relationship between the globally dominant British and American varieties of English, give a mini history of English in our own countries, and discuss our national quests to find space between and around US and UK nationlects. On the way, we ask the big, country-dividing questions like, is soup more likely to be brothy or puréed? Does “please” make a request ruder or more polite? What’s a prototypical bacon? Where on your face is a frown? This month’s bonus episode on Patreon is about what you should know if you’re considering linguistics grad school: whether to apply, tips on applying and choosing a school, and some of the differences between the North American and UK/Australian systems. We also announced that our Patron goal bonus art will by done by Lucy, who is not only a great artist but also an English language teacher with a Masters in Applied Linguistics. Go to patreon.com/lingthusiasm to listen to the bonus episodes and see behind-the-scenes updates about the art. To see this episode's shownotes, go to https://lingthusiasm.com/post/173999864106/lingthusiasm-episode-20-speaking-canadian-and
5/17/201838 minutes, 56 seconds
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19: Sentences with baggage - Presuppositions

What’s so weird if I say, “the present King of France is bald” or “I need to pick up my pet unicorn from the vet”? It seems like those sentences should be false: at least, they certainly can’t be true. But if you reply, “No, he isn’t” or “No, you don’t” it still feels unsatisfying: aren’t we still both assuming that France has a king and that I have a pet unicorn? In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch explore different kinds of meanings: sometimes sentences wear their meaning on their sleeves, but sometimes they instead smuggle it in as baggage. These assumptions are known as presuppositions. Presuppositions are incredibly useful (we couldn’t manage conversations at a normal pace without them), but in the wrong hands (such as when you’re trying to influence an eyewitness) they can also be very dangerous. This month’s bonus episode on Patreon is about memes, poetry, and mock-old English: Roses are red / Violets are dreams / In this episode / We talk poems and memes. To listen to bonus episodes and support the show, visit patreon.com/lingthusiasm We also announced a new round of Lingthusiasm merch: you can now get scarves with a subtle tree diagram print suitable for all your language family tree/syntax tree and other structural needs, and t-shirts, mugs, totes, and pouches with Heck Yeah Descriptivism or Heck Yeah Language Change on them, as well as the existing IPA scarves and NOT JUDGING YOUR GRAMMAR, JUST ANALYSING IT items in more colours! Go to lingthusiasm.com/merch to see pictures and order. To see this episode's shownotes, go to https://lingthusiasm.com/post/173106183816/lingthusiasm-episode-19-sentences-with-baggage
4/19/201836 minutes, 43 seconds
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18: Translating the untranslatable

Lists of ‘untranslatable’ words always come with... translations. So what do people really mean when they say a word is untranslatable? In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch explore how how we translate different kinds of meaning. What makes words like schadenfreude, tsundoku, and hygge so compelling? Which parts of language are actually the most difficult to translate? What does it say about English speakers that we have a word for “tricking someone into watching a video of Rick Astley singing Never Gonna Give You Up?” This month’s Patreon bonus episode is about the grammar of swearing. When we launched our Patreon this time last year (wow!) with a bonus episode about the sounds of swearing, we promised that we’d come back with even more about swearing that we didn’t have space to talk about. Now you can listen to a sweary double feature: put on bonus #1 and bonus #13 back to back! As always, episodes that aren’t specifically about swearing are swear-free. To listen to bonus episodes and support the show, visit patreon.com/lingthusiasm. To see this episode's shownotes and definitely NOT get rickrolled, visit http://lingthusiasm.com/post/171912276831/lingthusiasm-episode-18-translating-the
3/15/201838 minutes, 11 seconds
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17: Vowel Gymnastics

Say, “aaaaaahhhh…..” Now try going smoothly from one vowel to another, without pausing: “aaaaaaaeeeeeeeiiiiiii”. Feel how your tongue moves in relation to the back of the roof of your mouth as you move from one vowel to the next. When you say “ahhhh” like at the dentist, your tongue is low and far back and your mouth is all the way open. If you say “cheeeeese” like in a photo, your tongue is higher up and further forward, and your mouth is more closed: it’s a lot harder for the dentist to see your molars. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch explain how the position of our tongue when we make vowels can be described in the shape of a trapezoid: it can go up and down, forward towards the teeth and backwards towards the throat, and there’s a bit more space for movement higher up towards the roof of your mouth. Vowels don’t just exist in a trapezoid, they move around inside it: sometimes they squish up against their neighbours, sometimes they expand into less-occupied corners of the trapezoid for more elbow room. These vowel gymnastics explain so many things: why is the first letter in the alphabet named “ay” in English, but “ah” in most other languages that use the Roman alphabet? Why is “e” in “coffee” pronounced one way and “cafe” another, when they’re clearly related? Why is English spelling so difficult? What’s the difference between a California accent and a Kiwi accent? This month’s Patreon bonus episode is about constructing languages for fun and learning. To listen to bonus episodes and support the show, visit patreon.com/lingthusiasm. To see this episode's shownotes, including an incredible animation of your mouth as a pink trombone and vowel trapezoid art, visit http://lingthusiasm.com/post/170920044226/lingthusiasm-episode-17-vowel-gymnastics-say
2/15/201839 minutes, 20 seconds
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16: Learning parts of words - Morphemes and the wug test

Here’s a strange little blue animal you’ve never seen before. It’s called a wug. Now here’s another one. There are two of them. There are two ___? You probably thought “wugs” – and even kids as young as 3 years old would agree with you. But how did you know this, if you’ve never heard the word “wug” before? What is it that you know, exactly, when you know how to add that -s? Now try saying two cat__ 🐈🐈, two dog__ 🐕🐕 and two horse__ 🐎🐎. Why did you end up with catssss but dogzzzz, and have to add a whole extra syllable to horse? In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne bring you into the realm of language between words and sounds, the realm of morphemes like “wug” and “cat” and “-s” and “pre-” and “episode”. What do you know subconsciously about how morphemes fit together? How do kids learn them from such an early age? How do linguists test what kids know about words? Wugs, in fact, are no longer often used for the wug test, because their cute, birdlike shape has become so famous as an unofficial mascot of linguistics that we can’t assume people haven’t seen the word anymore! People have made wug cookies, crochet wugs, wug memes, and more fun wug items, and you can check out some of our favourite wuggish links below. This month’s Patreon bonus episode is an interview with Daniel Midgley of Talk the Talk about communicating linguistics, and how we are all linguistic geniuses. We also have a new Patreon goal: at $1,200 we’re going to commission a linguist-artist to illustrate a memorable bit from the show! Everyone will get to see the art, which we'll also make available on merch, and patrons will also get a high-resolution download and behind-the-scenes concept sketches. To listen to bonus episodes and support the show, visit patreon.com/lingthusiasm. To see this episode's shownotes, including how to run your own wug test and lots of fun wug creations, visit http://lingthusiasm.com/post/169866479416/lingthusiasm-episode-16-learning-parts-of-words
1/19/201833 minutes, 6 seconds
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15: Talking and thinking about time

When we talk about things that languages have in common, we often talk about the physical side, the fact that languages are produced by human bodies, using the same brain and hands and vocal tract. But they’re also all produced (so far) by people from the same planet and going through the same fourth dimension: time. As the earth revolves around the sun again, each of your Lingthusiasm cohosts is going through another longest (Lauren) or shortest (Gretchen) day, and we’re reflecting on how languages measure the passing of time. This episode of Lingthusiasm is a chance to reflect on the cyclical nature of years and days, the metaphors we use to talk about time in space, from time-space synesthesia to whether the past is behind us or in front of us, and why we measure time in seconds, but not thirds. (We definitely know that tense is also a time-related concept, but it's such a cool topic that we're going to give it its very own episode -- something to look forward to!) Thanks to everyone who has made this year of Lingthusiasm so great! It’s been a year since we made our first episodes live, and we have been so delighted by how many people share our enthusiasm for linguistics. Thanks especially to our patrons, who keep the show running (and ad-free). This month’s Patreon bonus episode is our first full-length bonus and it’s a question and answer session from our Montreal liveshow! Now you can have the full lingthusiastic liveshow experience with Bonus 8 (the main show) and Bonus 10 (the Q&A). We’ve still got IPA scarves and more in the merch section (www.lingthusiasm.com/merch), but if you’re looking for a gift that doesn’t require postage, why not give someone a gift subscription to bonus episodes on Patreon? (www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm) For the links mentioned in this episode, check out our shownotes page at: http://lingthusiasm.com/post/168801498861/lingthusiasm-episode-15-talking-and-thinking
12/21/201732 minutes, 5 seconds
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14: Getting into, up for, and down with prepositions

Are you up for some prepositions? You might think you’re over prepositions, but have you ever really looked into them, or have you just gone by them? Other parts of speech notwithstanding, prepositions are something we’re really down with. In Episode 14 of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne introduce you to our favourite English grammar book, the mammoth, 1800-page Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (affectionately known as CGEL), and take a deep dive into its 60+ pages all about prepositions. We also explore how it is that a grammar can even have sixty pages of things to say about prepositions in a single language and how the tricky edge cases are what makes grammar so interesting. Plus, we look at cousins of the preposition in other languages, like case markers, postpositions, and even circumpositions, why prepositions are complicated to translate, and pied-piping, the prepositional structure named after a fairy tale. This month’s bonus episode is about how linguists solve the divisive question of what makes a sandwich a sandwich. We introduce prototype theory to solve sandwiches, explain how bats and penguins relate to the idea of ‘birds’, and explore other meaning questions. You can get access to it and previous bonuses about discourse markers, language games, hypercorrection, teaching yourself linguistics, and more by supporting Lingthusiasm at patreon.com/lingthusiasm We also now have Lingthusiasm merch! Check out our soft, patterned IPA scarves in red, olive, and navy; shiny Lingthusiasm logo stickers; and mugs, t-shirts, and tote bags that say NOT JUDGING YOUR GRAMMAR, JUST ANALYSING IT at lingthusiasm.com/merch. Thanks so much to everyone who spent the month recommending and reviewing Lingthusiasm to celebrate our first anniversary this episode! We had the ambitious plan to get the show past 100,000 listens, but we knew we could only do it if you helped to introduce Lingthusiasm to new ears. You stepped up and helped us get there right on schedule! If you left a recommendation or review in public, we’ll thank you by name or pseudonym on our special anniversary post next week. If you recommended us in private, we obviously don’t know about it, but we hope you still feel a warm glow of satisfaction. For the links mentioned in this episode, check out our shownotes page at: http://lingthusiasm.com/post/167572233831/lingthusiasm-episode-14-getting-into-up-for-and
11/17/201736 minutes, 38 seconds
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13: What Does it Mean to Sound Black? Intonation and Identity Interview with Nicole Holliday

If you grow up with multiple accents to choose from, what does the one you choose say about your identity? How can linguistics unpick our hidden assumptions about what “sounds angry” or “sounds articulate”? What can we learn from studying the melodies of speech, in addition to the words and sounds? In Episode 13 of Lingthusiasm, your host Gretchen McCulloch interviews Dr. Nicole Holliday, an Associate Professor of linguistics at Pomona Collegem about her work on the speech of American black/biracial young men, prosody and intonation, and what it means to sound black. We also talk about how Obama inadvertently provided her research topic, the linguistics of the Wu Tang Clan, and how linguistics can make the world a better place. This month’s bonus episode is a recording of our liveshow about discourse markers in Montreal in September. What do “um” and “like” have in common with “behold” and “nevertheless”? They’re all discourse markers! These little words and phrases get a bad rap for being “meaningless”, but they’re actually really important. Find out how, and picture yourself sitting among real, live lingthusiasts in the excellent linguistics section at Argo Bookshop, on the recording. You can get access to it and previous bonuses about language games, hypercorrection, swearing, and teaching yourself linguistics by supporting Lingthusiasm on Patreon. patreon.com/lingthusiasm For the links mentioned in this episode, check out our shownotes page at: http://lingthusiasm.com/post/166585412086/lingthusiasm-episode-13-what-does-it-mean-to LINGTHUSIASM ANNIVERSARY UPDATE! We’re excited to bring you our first interview episode right before our very special 1-year anniversary episode in November! To celebrate a whole year of enthusiastic linguistics podcasting, we’re aiming to hit another milestone at the same time: 100,000 listens across all episodes. We’re currently at 83k as of right before posting this episode, so it’s totally doable, but we need your help to get there! Here are some ways you can help: - Share a link to your favourite Lingthusiasm episode so far and say something about what you found interesting in it. If you link directly to the episode page on lingthusiasm.com, people can follow your link and listen even if they’re not normally podcast people. Can’t remember what was in each episode? Check out the quotes for memorable excerpts or transcripts for full episode text. - We appreciate all kinds of recs, including social media, blogs, newsletters, fellow podcasts, and recommending directly to a specific person who you think would enjoy fun conversations about language! - If you didn’t get around to listening to a couple episodes when they came out, now is a great time to get caught up! - Write a review on iTunes or wherever else you get your podcasts. The more reviews we have, the more that the Mighty Algorithms make us show up to other people browsing. Star ratings are great; star ratings with words beside them are even better. All of our listeners so far have come from word of mouth, and we’ve enjoyed hearing from so many of you how we’ve kept you company while folding laundry, walking the dog, driving to work, jogging, doing dishes, procrastinating on your linguistics papers, and so much more. But there are definitely still people out there who would be totally into making their mundane activities feel like a fascinating linguistics party, they just don’t know it’s an option yet. They need your help to find us! If you leave us a rec or review in public, we’ll thank you by name or pseudonym on our special anniversary post next month, which will live in perpetuity on our website. If you recommend us in private, we won’t know about it, but you can still feel a warm glow of satisfaction (and feel free to tell us about it on social media if you still want to be thanked!).
10/19/201743 minutes, 49 seconds
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12: Sounds you can’t hear - Babies, accents, and phonemes

Why does it always sound slightly off when someone tries to imitate your accent? Why do tiny children learning your second language already sound better than you, even though you’ve been learning it longer than they’ve been alive? What does it mean for there to be sounds you can’t hear? In Episode 12 of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch explore the fundamental linguistic insight at the heart of all these questions: the phoneme. We also talk about how to bore babies (for science!), how sounds appear and disappear in a language, and how to retain our sense of wonder when the /t/ you hear doesn’t match up with the /t/ I hear. LIVESHOW: Exciting news! We held our first liveshow on Saturday, September 23rd in Montreal, at Argo Bookshop. It was great to meet so many lingthusiasts at this sold out show. We’re looking forward to bringing the liveshow experience to more people, once we hit our Patreon goal. This month’s Patreon bonus was about linguistic research, and how to become the go-to person among your friends for linguistics questions when you don’t have a university or a research budget, as nominated and voted on by our patrons. You can get access to it and previous bonuses about language games, hypercorrection, swearing, teaching yourself linguistics, and explaining linguistics to employers by supporting Lingthusiasm on Patreon. http://patreon.com/lingthusiasm For the links mentioned in this episode, check out our shownotes page at: http://lingthusiasm.com/post/165591628291/lingthusiasm-episode-12-sounds-you-cant-hear
9/21/201729 minutes, 37 seconds
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11: Layers of meaning - Cooperation, humour, and Gricean Maxims

– Would you like some coffee? – Coffee would keep me awake. Does that mean yes coffee, or no coffee? It depends! Is it the morning or the evening? Is the person trying to pull an all-nighter or take an afternoon nap? A computer looking strictly at the meanings of the words would be confused, but we humans do this kind of thing all the time without even noticing it. In episode 11 of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne talk about the hidden assumptions of cooperation that we bring to every conversation. They were formulated by the linguist Paul Grice, and are known as the Cooperative Principle or Grice’s Maxims. Not only does stating these assumptions explicitly help us understand conversations where we exchange messages beyond the literal meaning of our words, but it also explains a lot of humour – many jokes rely on creative flouting of Gricean Maxims! This month’s Patreon bonus was about language play: games like Pig Latin, rhyming slang, and Verlan, as nominated and voted on by our patrons. You can get access to it and previous bonuses about hypercorrection, the doggo meme, swearing, teaching yourself linguistics, and explaining linguistics to employers by supporting Lingthusiasm on Patreon. http://patreon.com/lingthusiasm We hit our next funding goal shortly after recording this episode, which will allow us to start bringing on guest linguists, so stay tuned for more info on upcoming interviews! For the links mentioned in this episode, check out our shownotes page at: http://lingthusiasm.com/post/164303700686/lingthusiasm-episode-11-layers-of-meaning
8/17/201733 minutes, 32 seconds
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10: Learning languages linguistically

Some linguists work with multiple languages, while others focus on just one. But for many people, learning a language after early childhood is the thing that first gets them curious about how language works in general and all the things in their native language(s) that they take for granted. In episode 10 of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne talk about how learning languages can feed into linguistics and vice versa. We also explore the power dynamics that affect learning languages, and the importance of learning about the rules of interaction as well as the rules of grammar. This month’s Patreon bonus was about hypercorrection, where you try so hard to follow a linguistic rule that you end up overshooting. You can get access to it and previous bonuses about the doggo meme, swearing, teaching yourself linguistics, and explaining linguistics to employers by supporting Lingthusiasm on Patreon. http://patreon.com/lingthusiasm Gretchen’s new recorder in this episode is thanks to the support of our patrons! For more information, and links to things mentioned in this episode, visit the show page: http://lingthusiasm.com/post/163226798571/lingthusiasm-episode-10-learning-languages
7/20/201738 minutes, 54 seconds
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09: The bridge between words and sentences - Constituency

How do we get from knowing words to making brand-new sentences out of them? In episode 9 of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne talk about how words form groups with other words: constituency. Once you start looking for it, constituency is everywhere: in ambiguous sentences like “time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana”, in remixed films like “Of Oz The Wizard”, and even internet dog memes. This month’s Patreon bonus was the backstory about the linguistics of the doggo meme and its connection to Australian slang, which grew out of this NPR article about doggo. You can get access to it and previous bonuses about swearing, teaching yourself linguistics, and explaining linguistics to employers by supporting Lingthusiasm on Patreon. For more information, and links to things mentioned in this episode, visit the show page: http://lingthusiasm.com/post/161859273886/lingthusiasm-episode-9-the-bridge-between-words
6/15/201739 minutes, 18 seconds
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08: People who make dictionaries

Dictionaries: they’re made by real people! In episode 8 of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch talk about Word by Word, a recent book by Kory Stamper, a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, about how dictionaries get made. (Spoiler: we liked it.) We also talk about how dictionaries get made for languages that don’t have any yet, the changing role of dictionaries on the internet and with social media, and how words often have a longer history than we expect (’g-string’, for example has been in use since at least 1878). Our latest Patreon bonus is about selling your linguistics skills to employers. (Previous bonuses: swearing and how to teach yourself linguistics.) Go to http://patreon.com/lingthusiasm to check them out! For more information, and links to things mentioned in this episode, visit the show page: http://lingthusiasm.com/post/160811944696/lingthusiasm-episode-8-people-who-make
5/18/201731 minutes, 5 seconds
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07: Kids these days aren’t ruining language

There are some pretty funny quotes of historical people complaining about kids back then doing linguistic things that now seem totally unremarkable. So let’s cut to the chase and celebrate linguistic innovation while it’s happening. In episode 7 of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch explore how far back we can trace complaints about the language of Kids These Days, why linguistic discrimination is harmful, and why “be like”, hyperbolic “literally”, and other modern innovations are actually signs of something awesome. We also announce a Patreon to keep the podcast sustainable! You can support us there to listen to a bonus episode about swearing and future monthly bonus content, and help decide the topics of future episodes. Even if you’re not sure about pledging, do check out the Patreon goals to see some of our future plans and our video to see a totally realistic and not at all staged cameo from our producer. Check out http://patreon.com/lingthusiasm For more information visit the show page: http://lingthusiasm.com/post/159796192161/lingthusiasm-episode-7-kids-these-days-arent
4/20/201736 minutes, 2 seconds
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06: All the sounds in all the languages - The International Phonetic Alphabet

English writing is hugely inconsistent: is “ough” pronounced as in cough, though, through, thought, rough, plough, or thorough? And once you start adding in other languages with different conventions and writing systems, things get even more complicated. How’s a person supposed to know whether to pronounce “j” as in Jane, Juan, Johan, Jeanne, or Jing? In the 1800s, linguists decided to create a single alphabet that could represent any sound spoken in any human language. After several revisions and competing standards, we now have the modern International Phonetic Alphabet with 107 letters, 52 diacritics, and a surprisingly passionate fanbase including linguists, musicians, and people who like cool symbols. In episode 6 of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren and Gretchen talk about the history of the IPA, how it works, and some of the fun linguistics games and stories that have arisen around the IPA. For more information visit the show page: http://lingthusiasm.com/post/159237203511/lingthusiasm-episode-6-all-the-sounds-in-all-the
3/16/201734 minutes, 36 seconds
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05: Colour words around the world and inside your brain

Red, orange, yellow, grue, and purple? Not so fast – while many languages don’t distinguish between green and blue, it’s unlikely that a language would lump these two together while also having distinct words for “orange” and “purple”. But how do we know this? What kinds of ways do different languages carve up the colour spectrum? Why does English say “redhead” instead of “orangehead”? How do colour words interact with smells, reading, and the human brain? In episode 5 of the podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics, your hosts Lauren and Gretchen talk about what linguistic typology and psycholinguistics can tell us about colour words. We also chat about Lauren’s archiving work, and the iGesto gesture conference, and Gretchen’s upcoming ICLDC conference adventures. For more information, transcript, and links mentioned in this episode, visit the show page: http://lingthusiasm.com/post/157327666801/lingthusiasm-episode-5-colour-words-around-the Listen to bonus episodes, suggest future topics, and help keep the show ad-free by supporting us on Patreon: http://patreon.com/lingthusiasm
2/16/201736 minutes, 30 seconds
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04: Inside the Word of the Year vote

Every January, hundreds of linguists gather in a conference room somewhere in the US to discuss and vote for the Word of the Year. It’s the longest-running and most public WotY proceedings, and it’s part of the annual meeting of the American Dialect Society, a sister society of the Linguistic Society of America. Gretchen was there this year and the past few years, while Lauren has never been (but actively reads the #woty16 hashtag on twitter!). We discuss what the ADS Word of the Year vote feels like from inside the room where it happens, the categories and politics around selecting a WotY, look at the different offerings from other organizations that also name a WotY (Lauren is pretty pleased that Australian Word of the Year was “democracy sausage”, while Gretchen would like a Canadian Word of the Year for 2017, thank you), and end up wondering what even is a word. We also respond to finally going live! Thanks for all your comments so far, and if you have a sec to rate us on iTunes or wherever else you’re listening, we’d super appreciate it. Update: In the show we said that 'Trump’ was selected as sign for the year for Netherlands Sign Language. It was actually the Swiss Deaf Association, in Switzerland. For more information visit the show page: http://lingthusiasm.com/post/155962380426/lingthusiasm-episode-4-inside-the-word-of-the Listen to bonus episodes, suggest future topics, and help keep the show ad-free by supporting us on Patreon: http://patreon.com/lingthusiasm
1/16/201728 minutes, 20 seconds
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03: Arrival of the Linguists - Review of the Alien Linguistics Movie

Lingthusiasm Episode 3: Arrival of the linguists - Review of the alien linguistics movie Linguists are very excited about the movie Arrival, because it stars a linguist saving the day by figuring out how to talk with aliens. Which, if you compare it to previous linguists in film (being obnoxious to poor flower girls, for example) is a vast improvement. In this episode of the podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics, Gretchen and Lauren come to you having just watched Arrival, to tell you what it got right and wrong about life as a linguist, how linguists have been reacting, and the linguists who consulted on the film. We also talk about some other books and films that feature linguistics, if Arrival caught your interest. We also discuss what we’ve been up to lately. Gretchen is busily writing the latest draft of her book about internet English, and Lauren has just published a grammar of a language spoken in Nepal. For more information visit the show page http://lingthusiasm.com/post/154520817516/lingthusiasm-episode-3-arrival-of-the-linguists Listen to bonus episodes, suggest future topics, and help keep the show ad-free by supporting us on Patreon: http://patreon.com/lingthusiasm
12/15/201631 minutes, 56 seconds
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02: Pronouns. Little words, big jobs

If there are pronouns, why aren’t there connouns? What’s the point of these little words? In this episode of the podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne take a look at the many functions of pronouns. We discuss the vastly different pronoun systems in different languages, how you’d need to change English pronouns to make it easier to write gay polyamorous fanfiction, and why everyone is getting excited about singular ‘they’ these days (despite the fact that it’s really old). We also talk about the Lingthusiasm logo, the three things that the squiggle stands for, and why it had to be green. For links to things mentioned in this episode, check out the shownotes page at http://lingthusiasm.com/post/154520062361/lingthusiasm-episode-2-pronouns-little-words Listen to bonus episodes, suggest future topics, and help keep the show ad-free by supporting us on Patreon: http://patreon.com/lingthusiasm
12/13/201633 minutes, 41 seconds
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01: Speaking a single language won’t bring about world peace

Wouldn’t it solve so many problems in the world if everyone just spoke the same language? Not so fast! Lingthusiasm is a brand-new podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics, hosted by Lauren Gawne of Superlinguo​ and Gretchen McCulloch of All Things Linguistic. In this first episode of Lingthusiasm, ​Gretchen and Lauren discuss the “one language equals peace” fallacy, and whether speaking the same words means that people will necessarily agree with each other (spoiler: no). But the history of how people have tried is still really interesting, from constructed and symbolic communication like Blissymbols and emoji to the way astronauts communicate in the high stakes environment of the International Space Station. For links to things mentioned during this episode visit http://lingthusiasm.com/post/154520059101/lingthusiasm-episode-1-speaking-a-single-language Listen to bonus episodes, suggest future topics, and help keep the show ad-free by supporting us on Patreon: http://patreon.com/lingthusiasm
12/13/201631 minutes, 35 seconds