Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics

Nov 19 2020 36 mins 12.3k

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





50: Climbing the sonority mountain from A to P
Nov 19 2020 41 mins  
“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


49: How translators approach a text
Oct 15 2020 33 mins  
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



48: Who you are in high school, linguistically speaking - Interview with Shivonne Gates
Sep 18 2020 44 mins  
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


47: The happy fun big adjective episode
Aug 20 2020 38 mins  
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


46: Hey, no problem, bye! The social dance of phatics
Jul 17 2020 37 mins  
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


45: Tracing languages back before recorded history
Jun 19 2020 38 mins  
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/


44: Schwa, the most versatile English vowel
May 22 2020 32 mins  
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"). 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


43: The grammar of singular they - Interview with Kirby Conrod
Apr 17 2020 42 mins  
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


42: What makes a language “easy”? It’s a hard question
Mar 19 2020 39 mins  
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


41: This time it gets tense - The grammar of time
Feb 20 2020 35 mins  
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



40: Making machines learn language - Interview with Janelle Shane
Jan 17 2020 44 mins  
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






37: Smell words, both real and invented
Oct 17 2019 36 mins  
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


36: Villages, gifs, and children: Researching signed languages in real-world contexts with Lynn Hou
Sep 20 2019 39 mins  
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


35: Putting sounds into syllables is like putting toppings on a burger
Aug 16 2019 29 mins  
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


34: Emoji are Gesture Because Internet
Jul 18 2019 30 mins  
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


33: Why spelling is hard — but also hard to change
Jun 20 2019 32 mins  
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



32: You heard about it but I was there - Evidentiality
May 16 2019 33 mins  
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


31: Pop culture in Cook Islands Māori - Interview with Ake Nicholas
Apr 19 2019 39 mins  
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


30: Why do we gesture when we talk?
Mar 21 2019 33 mins  
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


29: The verb is the coat rack that the rest of the sentence hangs on
Feb 22 2019 38 mins  
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


28: How languages influence each other - Hannah Gibson interview on Swahili, Rangi & Bantu languages
Jan 18 2019 35 mins  
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


27: Words for family relationships: Kinship terms
Dec 20 2018 34 mins  
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


26: Why do C and G come in hard and soft versions? Palatalization
Nov 16 2018 34 mins  
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


25: Every word is a real word
Oct 18 2018 37 mins  
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



24: Making books and tools speak Chatino - Interview with Hilaria Cruz
Sep 20 2018 38 mins  
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


23: When nothing means something
Aug 16 2018 35 mins  
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


22: This, that and the other thing - Determiners
Jul 19 2018 36 mins  
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


21: What words sound spiky across languages? Interview with Suzy Styles
Jun 22 2018 37 mins  
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


20: Speaking Canadian and Australian English in a British-American binary
May 17 2018 38 mins  
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


19: Sentences with baggage - Presuppositions
Apr 19 2018 36 mins  
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




17: Vowel Gymnastics
Feb 15 2018 39 mins  
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



16: Learning parts of words - Morphemes and the wug test
Jan 19 2018 33 mins  
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


15: Talking and thinking about time
Dec 21 2017 32 mins  
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


14: Getting into, up for, and down with prepositions
Nov 17 2017 36 mins  
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


13: What Does it Mean to Sound Black? Intonation and Identity Interview with Nicole Holliday
Oct 19 2017 43 mins  
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!).


12: Sounds you can’t hear - Babies, accents, and phonemes
Sep 21 2017 29 mins  
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


11: Layers of meaning - Cooperation, humour, and Gricean Maxims
Aug 17 2017 33 mins  
– 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















04: Inside the Word of the Year vote
Jan 16 2017 28 mins  
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








4.7 • 6 Ratings

FannyH Nov 08 2020
Interesting, but they speak too fast while debating academic subjects...

jps Oct 21 2020
bouba and kiki!






Conor May 22 2020
Fascinating topics, expertly explained

Ben Jay May 14 2020
Really interesting

rocmtnguy May 07 2020
The most fun you will have listening to two linguistics experts talk about how language works

Rhiannon Apr 16 2020
Does what it says on the tin. Perfect!