76 episodes

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 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

Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne

    • Science
    • 4.8 • 548 Ratings

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 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

    76: Where language names come from and why they change

    76: Where language names come from and why they change

    Language names come from many sources. Sometimes they’re related to a geographical feature or name of a group of people. Sometimes they’re related to the word for “talk” or “language” in the language itself; other times the name that outsiders call the language is completely different from the insider name. Sometimes they come from mistakes: a name that got mis-applied or even a pejorative description from a neighbouring group. 

    In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about how languages are named! We talk about how naming a language makes it more legible to broader organizations like governments and academics, similar to how birth certificates and passports make humans legible to institutions. And like how individual people can change their names, sometimes groups of people decide to change the name that their language is known by, a process that in both cases can take a lot of paperwork. 

    Read the transcript [available soon]

    Announcements: 
    We’re doing another Lingthusiasm liveshow! February 18th (Canada) slash 19th (Australia)! (What time is that for me?) We'll be returning to one of our fan-favourite topics and answering your questions about language and gender with returning special guest Dr. Kirby Conrod! (See Kirby’s previous interview with us about the grammar of singular they.)

    This liveshow is for Lingthusiam patrons and will take place on the Lingthusiasm Discord server. Become a patron before the event to ask us questions in advance or live-react in the text chat. This episode will also be available as an edited-for-legibility recording in your usual Patreon live feed if you prefer to listen at a later date. In the meantime: tell us about your favourite examples of gender in various languages and we might include them in the show! www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about some of our favourite deleted bits from previous interviews that we didn't quite have space to share with you. Think of it as a special bonus edition DVD from the past two years of Lingthusiasm with director's commentary and deleted scenes from interviews with Kat Gupta, Lucy Maddox, and Randall Munroe.

    Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 70+ other bonus episodes, as well as access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds, and get access to our upcoming liveshow! www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    For the links mentioned in the episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/706926160206086144/episode-76-where-language-names-come-from-and-why

    • 37 min
    75: Love and fury at the linguistics of emotions

    75: Love and fury at the linguistics of emotions

    Emotions are a universal part of the human experience, but the specific ways we express them are mediated through language. For example, English uses the one word “love” for several distinct feelings: familial love, romantic love, platonic love, and loving things (I love this ice cream!), whereas Spanish distinguishes lexically between the less intense querer and the stronger amar. Conversely, many Austronesian languages use the same word for the concepts that English would split as “fear” and “surprise”, while many Nakh-Daghestani (Northeast Caucasian) languages use the same word for the cluster that English splits into “fear”, “anxiety”, and “grief”. 

    In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about the layers of language that are involved in emotions, from how emotion words form different clusters of related meaning in different language families to how the way your face shape changes when you smile affects the pitch of your voice. We also talk about how our understanding of how to talk about emotion changes throughout history and our lifespan, and how bilingual people feel differently about emotional words in their different languages.

    Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/703741238379151360/transcript-episode-75-emotions

    Announcements: 

    Thank you so much for celebrating our 6th anniversary with us! We appreciated all the love and support on social media, and it was great to see you recommending us to other language fans. Thank you to anyone who made an irl recommendation of the podcast, we appreciate you too! 

    In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about stylized Oldey Timey English! We talk about contexts in which pseudo-archaic forms get used, from Gretchen's recent experience with names and titles in a 1492 papal election roleplaying game, to how the language handbook of the Society of Creative Anachronism balances modern-day desires for gender-neutral language with creating historic-feeling titles, and a 1949 academic article cataloguing business names in the New York City phonebook that began with "ye". 

    Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 60+ other bonus episodes, as well as access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds. www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    Here are the links mentioned in the episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/703740969788522496/episode-75-love-and-fury-at-the-linguistics-of

    • 27 min
    74: Who questions the questions?

    74: Who questions the questions?

    We use questions to ask people for information (who’s there?), but we can also use them to make a polite request (could you pass me that?), to confirm social understanding (what a game, eh), and for stylistic effect, such as ironic or rhetorical questions (who knows!). 

    In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about questions! We talk about question intonations from the classic rising pitch? to the British downstep (not a dance move...yet), and their written correlates, such as omitting a question mark in order to show that a question is rhetorical or intensified. We also talk about grammatical strategies for forming questions, from the common (like question particles and tag questions in so many languages), to the labyrinthine history that brings us English’s very uncommon use of “do” in questions. Plus: the English-centrically-named wh-word questions (like who, what, where), why we could maybe call them kw-word questions instead (at least for Indo-European), and why we don’t need to stress out as much about asking “open” questions. 

    Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/701222250525949952/episode-74-transcript-who-questions-the

    Announcements:

    Lingthusiasm turns 6 this month! We invite you to celebrate six years of linguistics enthusiasm with us by sharing the show - you can share a link to an episode you liked or just share your lingthusiasm generally. Most people still find podcasts through word of mouth, and lots of them don’t yet realise that they could have a fun linguistics chat in their ears every month (or eyes, all Lingthusiasm episodes have transcripts!). If you share Lingthusiasm on social media, tag us so we can reply, and if you share in private, we won’t know but you can feel a warm glow of satisfaction - or feel free to tell us about it on social media if you want to be thanked!

    We’re also doing a listener survey for the first time! This is your chance to tell us about what you’re enjoying about Lingthusiasm so far, and what else we could be doing in the future - and your chance to suggest topics! It’s open until December 15, 2022. And we couldn’t resist the opportunity to add a few linguistic experiments in there as well, which we’ll be sharing the results of next year. We might even write up a paper about the survey one day, so we have ethics board approval from La Trobe University for this survey. Take the survey here! https://bit.ly/lingthusiasmsurvey22

    In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about a project that Gretchen did to read one paper for each of the 103 languages recorded in a recent paper by Evan Kidd and Rowena Garcia about child language acquisition. We talk about some of the specific papers that stood out to us, and what Gretchen hoped to achieve with her reading project. https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 60+ other bonus episodes, as well as access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds. https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    For links mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/701222097876369408/episode-74-who-questions-the-questions-we-use

    • 37 min
    73: The linguistic map is not the linguistic territory

    73: The linguistic map is not the linguistic territory

    Maps of languages of the world are fun to look at, but they’re also often suspiciously precise: a suspiciously round number of languages, like 7000, mapped to dots or coloured zones with suspiciously exact and un-overlapping locations. And yet, if you’ve ever eavesdropped on people on public transit, you know that any given location often plays host to many linguistic varieties at once.

    In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about the complications that come with trying to map languages and dialects. We talk about the history of how people have tried to map out linguistic varieties, and how geopolitical factors like war, colonialism, migration, education, and nationalism influence which languages are considered to exist and where, in the context of Inuktitut, French, BANZSL (British, Australian, and New Zealand Sign Languages), and the Faroe Islands. We also talk about sprachbunds, aka how languages and dialects are more like gradients of colour rather than patchwork pieces.

    This episode was updated with a corrected definition of sprachbund [14:54 - 16:08] on 23/10/2022.

    Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/698676202821566464/transcript-lingthusiasm-episode-73-the-linguistic

    Announcements:
    November is our anniversary month and this year we’re celebrating 6 months of Lingthusiasm! We invite you to celebrate with us by sharing your favourite Lingthusiasm episode by sharing a link to your favourite episode, or just sharing your lingthusiasm. Most people still find podcasts through word of mouth, and lots of them don’t yet realise that they could have a fun linguistics chat in their ears every month (or eyes, all Lingthusiasm episodes have transcripts!). If you share Lingthusiasm on social media, tag us so we can reply, and if you share in private, we won’t know but you can feel a warm glow of satisfaction - or feel free to tell us about it on social media if you want to be thanked!

    We're also doing a listener survey for the first time! This is your chance to tell us about what you're enjoying about Lingthusiasm so far, and what else we could be doing in the future - and your chance to suggest topics! And we couldn’t resist the opportunity to add a few linguistic experiments in there as well, which we’ll be sharing the results of next year. We might even write up a paper about the survey one day, so we have ethics board approval from La Trobe University for this survey. Take the survey here! http://bit.ly/lingthusiasmsurvey22

    In this month’s bonus episode we interview Liz McCullough (no relation), of Lingthusiasm production manager fame, about linguistics and science communication. We talk about how Liz got interested in linguistics through science and music, her varied career path going back and forth between museums and universities, and how she's worked with us on the intersection between linguistics and science communication. www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 60+ other bonus episodes, access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds.

    For all the links mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/698675918395277313/episode-73-the-linguistic-map-is-not-the

    • 39 min
    72: What If Linguistics - Absurd hypothetical questions with Randall Munroe of xkcd

    72: What If Linguistics - Absurd hypothetical questions with Randall Munroe of xkcd

    What’s the “it’s” in “it’s three pm and hot”? How do you write a cough in the International Phonetic Alphabet? Who is the person most likely to speak similarly to a randomly-selected North American English speaker?

    In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about absurd hypothetical linguistic questions with special guest Randall Munroe, creator of the webcomic xkcd and author of What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. We only wish that there was a little more linguistics in the book. So Randall came on to fill the gap with all his most ridiculous linguistics questions! One of our unresolved questions that we can merely speculate about is our predictions for what the future of English might be like. Are you listening to this episode from more than two decades in the future? Please write in from 2042 or later and let us know how accurate we’ve been!

    Read the transcript here:

    Announcements:
    We’ve teamed up with linguist/artist Lucy Maddox to create a fun, minimalist version of the classic International Phonetic Alphabet chart, which you can see here (plus more info about how we put together the design). It looks really cool, and it’s also a practical reference tool that you can carry around with you in a convenient multi-purpose format: lens cloths!

    We’re going to place ONE (1) massive order for aesthetic IPA chart lens cloths on October 6, 2022. If you want one, be a patron at the Lingthusiast tier or higher on October 5th, 2022, timezone: anywhere in the world. If you’re already a patron at that tier, then you’re set! (That’s the tier where you also get bonus episodes and the Discord access, we’ve never run a special offer at this tier before but we think this time it’ll be worth it!). www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    In this month’s bonus episode we chat with Lucy about redesigning the IPA! We talk about how Lucy got interested in linguistics, how she got into art, how we started working with her, and the many design considerations that went into making a redesigned IPA chart.

    Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 60+ other bonus episodes, access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds, as well your exclusive IPA chart lens cloth! www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    Click here for the full show notes, which includes links to things mentioned in this episode:

    • 49 min
    71: Various vocal fold vibes

    71: Various vocal fold vibes

    Partway down your throat are two flaps of muscle. When you breathe normally, you pull the flaps away to the sides, and air comes out silently. But if you stretch the flaps across the opening of your throat while pushing air up through, you can make them vibrate in the breeze and produce all sorts of sounds -- sort of like the mucousy reed of a giant meat clarinet. (You’re welcome.)

    In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about the vocal folds! They’re often called vocal cords, but as they’re attached along the long side rather than just the two ends like a guitar string, we’re using the more precise “folds” (just be thankful they’re not called “vocal flaps”!) We talk about the many cool types of vibrations you can make with your vocal folds: pushing out an extra puff of air (aspiration), turning off your vocal folds while still talking (whisper), making them high and tight (falsetto), low and airy (breathy voice), and low and crackly (creaky voice, aka vocal fry). We also talk about the ways that various languages draw on different configurations of these vibrations to distinguish between words (such as “sip” and “zip”; Thai, Tai, and Dai; and more) or for stylistic effect (such as newscaster voice).

    Transcript: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/view/lingthusiasm/692978486586048512

    Announcements
    We’ve teamed up with linguist/artist Lucy Maddox to create a fun, minimalist version of the classic International Phonetic Alphabet chart, which you can see here (plus more info about how we put together the design). It looks really cool, and it’s also a practical reference tool that you can carry around with you in a convenient multi-purpose format: lens cloths!

    We're going to place ONE (1) massive order for aesthetic IPA chart lens cloths on October 6, 2022. If you want one, be a patron at the Lingthusiast tier or higher on October 5th, 2022, timezone: anywhere in the world. If you’re already a patron at that tier, then you’re set! (That's the tier where you also get bonus episodes and the Discord access, we've never run a special offer at this tier before but we think this time it'll be worth it!). https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    In this month’s bonus episode we get enthusiastic about a forgotten gem of a linguistics paper about a rabbit! We talk about how Linguistics Twitter got excited about tracking down this paper based on a vague rumour, Labov's history of coming up with unique ways to record language in more natural environments, and useful takeaways about how to talk with children.

    Join us on Patreon now to get access to this and 60+ other bonus episodes, including an upcoming episode where we interview the artist and linguist Lucy Maddox about the process of designing our new IPA chart. You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can chat with other language nerds, as well your exclusive IPA chart lense cloth! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/view/lingthusiasm/692978069598814208

    • 40 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
548 Ratings

548 Ratings

Wowcoolbanana ,

A great podcast for Linguistic beginners!

With good information, great explanations, and two excited hosts, this podcast is absolutely worth a listen.

FranOhio ,

From a non-linguist, amazing

I’m not a linguist, but I love this pod. It’s fascinating as a lay person, thanks!!

Nappington ,

Great and fun podcast

Super fun to and excited to hear what they have to say .
Gretchen ends up throwing me off I get anxiety from her fast, loud speaking. I understand the anxiety is my own.
Both hosts are amazing and we can all learn a lot from both hosts.

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