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Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics


A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne. A weird and deep conversation about language delivered right to your ears the third Thursday of every month. "Joyously nerdy" –Buzzfeed. Listened to all the episodes here and wish there were more? Want toRead more

Popular episodes

62: Cool things about scales and implicature

Nov 18 • 37:20
We can plot the words we use to describe temperature on a scale: cold, cool, warm, hot. It’s not as precise as a temperature scale like Celsius or Fahrenheit, but we all generally agree on where these words sit in relation to each other. We can also do the same with other sets of words that don’t necessarily have an equivalent scientific scale, such as the relationship bet...

61: Corpus linguistics and consent - Interview with Kat Gupta

Oct 21 • 44:26
If you want to know what a particular person, era, or society thinks about a given topic, you might want to read what that person or people have written about it. Which would be fine if your topic and people are very specific, but what if you’ve got, say, “everything published in English between 1800 and 2000″ and you’re trying to figure out how the use of a particular wor...

60: That’s the kind of episode it’s - clitics

Sep 17 • 41:37
Here’s a completely normal and unremarkable sentence. Let’s imagine we have two different coloured pens, and we’re going to circle the words in red and the affixes, that’s prefixes and suffixes, in blue.

“Later today, I’ll know if I hafta get some prizes for Helen of Troy’s competition, or if it isn’t necessary.”

Some of these are pretty straightforward. “Some”? Word. T...

59: Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Theory of Mind

Aug 19 • 38:59
Let's say I show you and our friend Gavagai a box of chocolates, and then Gav leaves the room, and I show you that the box actually contains coloured pencils. (Big letdown, sorry.) When Gav comes back in the room a minute later, and we've closed the box again, what are they going to think is in the box?

In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get en...

58: A Fun-Filled Fricative Field Trip

Jul 16 • 39:39
What do the sounds fffff, vvvv, ssss, and zzzz all have in common? They're all produced by creating a sort of friction in your mouth when you constrict two parts against each other, whether that's your lips, your teeth, your tongue, the roof of your mouth, or in your throat. This whole class of sounds that are produced using friction are known as fricatives!

In this episod...

57: Making machines learn Fon and other African languages - Interview with Masakhane

Jun 18 • 37:19
When you see something on social media in a language you don’t read, it’s really handy to have a quick and good-enough “click to translate” option. But despite the fact that 2000 of the world’s languages are African, machine translation and other language tech tools don’t yet exist for most of them.

In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch interviews Jade Abbott and B...

56: Not NOT a negation episode

May 20 • 31:40
“I don’t have a pet dinosaur.” This sentence is, we assume, true for everyone listening to this episode (if it isn’t, uh, tell us your ways?). And yet it has a different feel to it than a more ordinary sentence like “I don’t have a cat”, the type of negated sentence that’s true for some people and not others.

In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch ...

55: R and R-like sounds - Rhoticity

Apr 15 • 40:45
The letter R is just one symbol, but it can represent a whole family of sounds. In various languages, R can be made in various places, from the tip of your tongue to the back of your throat, and in various ways, from repeatedly trilling a small fleshy part against the rest of your mouth to an almost fully open mouth that’s practically a vowel.

In this episode, your hosts L...

54: How linguists figure out the grammar of a language

Mar 18 • 41:16
If you go to the linguistics section of a big library, you may find some shelves containing thick, dusty grammars of various languages. But grammars, like dictionaries, don’t just appear out of nowhere -- they’re made by people, and those people bring their own interests and priorities to the process.

In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enth...

53: Listen to the imperatives episode!

Feb 18 • 42:02
When we tell you, “stay lingthusiastic!” at the end of every episode, we’re using a grammatical feature known as the imperative. But although it might be amusing to imagine ancient Roman emperors getting enthusiastic about linguistics, unlike Caesar we don’t actually have the ability to enforce this command. So although “stay lingthusiastic!” has the form of the imperative...

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