40 episodes

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.
Bonus episodes: www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm
Shownotes: www.lingthusiasm.com

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

    • Society & Culture

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.
Bonus episodes: www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm
Shownotes: www.lingthusiasm.com

    40: Making machines learn language - Interview with Janelle Shane

    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

    • 44 min
    39: How to rebalance a lopsided conversation

    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

    • 33 min
    38: Many ways to talk about many things - Plurals, duals and more

    38: Many ways to talk about many things - Plurals, duals and more

    In English you have one book, and three books. In Arabic you have one kitaab, and three kutub. In Nepali it’s one kitab, and three kitabharu, but sometimes it’s three kitab.

    In this episode of Lingthusiasm, Gretchen and Lauren look at the many ways that languages talk about how many of something there are, ranging from common distinctions like singular, plural, and dual, to more typologically rare forms like the trial, the paucal, and the associative plural. (And the mysterious absence of the quadral, cross-linguistically!)

    It’s also our anniversary episode! We’re celebrating three years of Lingthusiasm by asking you to share your favourite fact you’ve learnt from the podcast. Share it on social media and tag @lingthusiasm if you’d like us to reshare it for other people, or just send it directly to someone who you think needs a little more linguistics in their life.

    This month’s bonus episode was about reading fiction as a linguist! Check out our favourite recs for linguistically interesting fiction and get access to 30+ additional episodes if you’ve run out of lingthusiasm to listen to, by becoming a member on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    For links and more go to https://lingthusiasm.com/post/189218282891/lingthusiasm-episode-38-many-ways-to-talk-about

    • 32 min
    37: Smell words, both real and invented

    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.

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    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 min
    36: Villages, gifs, and children: Researching signed languages in real-world contexts with Lynn Hou

    36: Villages, gifs, and children: Researching signed languages in real-world contexts with Lynn Hou

    Larger, national signed languages, like American Sign Language and British Sign Language, often have relatively well-established laboratory-based research traditions, whereas smaller signed languages, such as those found in villages with a high proportion of deaf residents, aren’t studied as much. When we look at signed languages in the context of these smaller communities, we can also think more about how to make research on larger sign languages more natural as well.

    In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch interviews Dr Lynn Hou, an Assistant Professor of linguistics at the University of California Santa Barbara, in our first bilingual episode (ASL and English). Lina researches how signed languages are used in real-world environments, which takes her from analyzing American Sign Language in youtube videos to documenting how children learn San Juan Quiahije Chatino Sign Language (in collaboration with Hilaria Cruz, one of our previous interviewees!).

    We’re very excited to bring you our first bilingual episode in ASL and English! For the full experience, make sure to watch the video version of this episode at youtube.com/lingthusiasm (and check out our previous video episode on gesture in spoken language while you’re there).

    Check out the shownotes page to get the links mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/187829933341/lingthusiasm-episode-36-villages-gifs-and

    • 39 min
    35: Putting sounds into syllables is like putting toppings on a burger

    35: Putting sounds into syllables is like putting toppings on a burger

    Sometimes a syllable is jam-packed with sounds, like the single-syllable word “strengths”. Other times, a syllable is as simple as a single vowel or consonant+vowel, like the two syllables in “a-ha!” It’s kind of like a burger: you might pack your burger with tons of toppings, or go as simple as a patty by itself on a plate, but certain combinations are more likely than others. For example, an open-face burger, with only the bottom half of the bun, is less weird than a burger with only the top half.

    In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about syllables. Why aren’t there any English words that begin with “ng”, even though Vietnamese is perfectly happy to have them? Why do Spanish speakers pronounce the English word “Sprite” more like “Esprite”? Why did English speakers re-analyze Greek helico-pter into heli-copter? Plus more about how different languages prefer different things in their syllable-burgers and what happens when these preferences collide.

    This month’s bonus episode is about metaphors! Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to the metaphors episode and 29 previous bonus episodes. https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    Today is the final day for two things related to Because Internet, Gretchen’s book about internet linguistics (which is out now and you can get it!).
    1. Send us your questions about Because Internet, internet language, or the process of writing a book for a special bonus behind the scenes Q&A episode about the book!
    2. Join our new “ling-phabet” tier on Patreon by August 15th in any timezone (you may get a few hours into August 16th if you’re lucky!) and get a signed Because Internet bookplate sticker with your name on it in the mail! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    For links and things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/187039068846/lingthusiasm-episode-35-putting-sounds-into

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

Forest kid ,

An addictive podcast on a fascinating field!

I can’t stop listening to Lingthusiasm! My friends and family love hearing fun linguistics facts (did you know a typical six year old can do wonky verb conjugations but still can’t accurately identify colors? Or that the ISS has a sort of Russian-English pidgin? Or that...oh just listen for yourself). And I am fascinated by the diversity of linguistics as the field, and I’m infected with the hosts’ enthusiasm. Thanks so much!

Michael Adkins ,

Great and fun podcast

Both wonky and accessible, really interesting for any curious person

SDM1979 ,

Clever and charming

This is really fun! Thought-provoking, and makes complex, heady concepts accessible.

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