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Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics

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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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

37mins

17 Jul 2020

Rank #1

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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.comLingthusiasm merch makes a great gift for yourself or other lingthusiasts! Check out IPA scarves, IPA socks, and more at lingthusiasm.redbubble.comHave 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

32mins

22 May 2020

Rank #2

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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

44mins

17 Jan 2020

Rank #3

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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

32mins

20 Jun 2019

Rank #4

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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

33mins

19 Dec 2019

Rank #5

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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-theListen to bonus episodes, suggest future topics, and help keep the show ad-free by supporting us on Patreon: http://patreon.com/lingthusiasm

36mins

16 Feb 2017

Rank #6

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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 movieLinguists 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-linguistsListen to bonus episodes, suggest future topics, and help keep the show ad-free by supporting us on Patreon: http://patreon.com/lingthusiasm

31mins

15 Dec 2016

Rank #7

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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

36mins

17 Oct 2019

Rank #8

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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

34mins

16 Mar 2017

Rank #9

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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

38mins

15 Mar 2018

Rank #10

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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

33mins

16 May 2019

Rank #11

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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/lingthusiasmFor the links mentioned in this episode, check out our shownotes page at: http://lingthusiasm.com/post/166585412086/lingthusiasm-episode-13-what-does-it-mean-toLINGTHUSIASM 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!).

43mins

19 Oct 2017

Rank #12

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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/lingthusiasmGretchen’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

38mins

20 Jul 2017

Rank #13

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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

38mins

17 May 2018

Rank #14

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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/lingthusiasmFor 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

33mins

21 Mar 2019

Rank #15

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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/lingthusiasmFor the links mentioned in this episode, check out our shownotes page at: http://lingthusiasm.com/post/165591628291/lingthusiasm-episode-12-sounds-you-cant-hear

29mins

21 Sep 2017

Rank #16

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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/lingthusiasmWe 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

36mins

19 Apr 2018

Rank #17

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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/bookFor 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

38mins

22 Feb 2019

Rank #18

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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

36mins

20 Apr 2017

Rank #19

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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

39mins

15 Feb 2018

Rank #20