55 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.
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

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 450 Ratings

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

    55: R and R-like sounds - Rhoticity

    55: R and R-like sounds - Rhoticity

    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 Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about R and R-like sounds, technically known as rhotics, including English r, French r, Spanish r and rr, and more. We also talk about how the presence or absence of R is a feature that distinguishes certain accents: think Canadian vs Australian English, northern vs southern varieties of English in the UK and US, and northern vs southern varieties of Mandarin.

    Announcements:
    We’re doing a virtual live show! It’s on April 24, 2021 and you can get access to it by becoming a patron of Lingthusiasm at any level. The Lingthusiasm liveshow is part of LingFest, a fringe-festival-like programme of independently organized online linguistics events for the week of April 24 to May 2. See the LingFest website for details on other events. https://lingcomm.org/lingfest/

    The week before LingFest is LingComm21, the International Conference on Linguistics Communication. LingComm21 is a small, highly interactive, virtual conference that brings together lingcommers from a variety of levels and backgrounds, including linguists communicating with public audiences and communicators with a “beat” related to language. Find out more about LingComm21. https://lingcomm.org/conference/

    This month’s bonus episode is about talking to babies and small children! We talk about how the way babies are addressed differs across cultures, how people sometimes alter their speech subtly for babies even when they think they don't, and how infant-directed speech differs from similar genres like pet-directed speech. Join us on Patreon to get access to this, as well as 49 other bonus episodes - as well as a ticket for you and a friend to our upcoming liveshow! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    For links to everything mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/648571714904670208/lingthusiasm-episode-55-r-and-r-like-sounds

    • 40 min
    54: How linguists figure out the grammar of a language

    54: How linguists figure out the grammar of a language

    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 enthusiastic about the process of figuring out the structure of a language and writing it down -- making a kind of book called a descriptive grammar. We also talk about differences in grammar-writing traditions in the history of India, Europe, and China, and how the structures of Sanskrit, Latin, and Old Chinese influenced the kinds of things that their early grammarians noticed about language.

    Announcements:
    We’re doing a virtual live show! It’s on April 24, 2021 and you can get access to it by becoming a patron of Lingthusiasm at any level. The Lingthusiasm liveshow is part of LingFest, a fringe-festival-like programme of independently organized online linguistics events for the week of April 24 to May 2. See the LingFest website for details as more events trickle in. https://lingcomm.org/lingfest/

    The week before LingFest is LingComm21, the International Conference on Linguistics Communication. LingComm21 is a small, highly interactive, virtual conference that brings together lingcommers from a variety of levels and backgrounds, including linguists communicating with public audiences and communicators with a “beat” related to language. Find out more about LingComm21. https://lingcomm.org/conference/

    This month’s bonus episode is about reduplication! Have you eaten salad-salad, drunk milk-milk, or read a book-book lately? Or are you thinking something more along the lines of "salad, schmalad! milk, schmilk! books, schmooks!"? In either case, you're producing reduplication! We look at different forms and meanings of reduplication across various languages through the World Atlas of Linguistic Structures, why it's not called just "duplication", and delve into English reduplication via a classic among entertaining linguistics papers, the Salad-Salad Paper. Join us on Patreon to get access to this and 48 other bonus episodes - as well as the upcoming liveshow! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    Here are the links mentioned in this episode:
    https://lingthusiasm.com/post/646033422056292352/lingthusiasm-episode-54-how-linguists-figure-out

    • 41 min
    53: Listen to the imperatives episode!

    53: Listen to the imperatives episode!

    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, it really has more the effect of a wish or a hope.

    In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about the range of things that imperatives do in various languages. We also get excited about why imperatives are often one of the first verb forms that children learn, how imperatives make up the general “vibe” (aka mood) of a verb, and imperatives in the fairy-tale retelling Ella Enchanted.

    Announcements:
    We’re doing a virtual live show! It’s on April 24, 2021 and you can get access to it by becoming a patron of Lingthusiasm at any level. The Lingthusiasm liveshow is part of LingFest, a fringe-festival-like programme of independently organized online linguistics events for the week of April 24 to May 2. See the LingFest website for details as more events trickle in: https://lingcomm.org/lingfest

    The week before LingFest is LingComm21, the International Conference on Linguistics Communication. LingComm21 is a small, highly interactive, virtual conference that brings together lingcommers from a variety of levels and backgrounds, including linguists communicating with public audiences and communicators with a “beat” related to language. Find out more about LingComm21: https://lingcomm.org/conference/

    This month’s bonus episode is a Q&A with us, your hosts! We get enthusiastic about answering your questions!, like: What do you think is the best food to name a dog after? If you had to remove a phoneme from English, which do you think would have the most interesting results? How do you keep up with linguistics research outside academia? We also talk about our recent news and upcoming plans for 2021, "tell me you're a linguist without telling me you're a linguist", and lots more great questions from the patron Discord. Become a Patreon now to get access to this and 47 other bonus episodes, as well us our upcoming live show! www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/643499852841582592/lingthusiasm-episode-53-listen-to-the-imperatives

    • 42 min
    52: Writing is a technology

    52: Writing is a technology

    There’s no known human society without language, whether spoken or signed or both, but writing is a different story. Writing is a technology that has only been invented from scratch a handful of times: in ancient Sumeria (where it may have spread to ancient Egypt or been invented separately there), in ancient China, and in ancient Mesoamerica. Far more often, the idea of writing spreads through contact between one culture and its neighbours, even though the shape of the written characters and what they stand for can vary a lot as it spreads.

    In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about writing systems, and how the structure and history of a language contribute to the massively multigenerational project of devising a writing system (a project which is still ongoing). We also talk about some of our favourite origin-of-writing system stories, including the invention of the Cherokee syllabary and Korean hangul.

    Announcements

    We’re just about to hit 100 Lingthusiasm episodes! If you’re wondering why this is only episode 52, that’s because the other half of them exist as bonus episodes on Patreon. It’s also been one year since we launched the Lingthusiasm Discord server, which has grown into a place where casual conversations about food and pets always have the potential to veer off into linguistics. There are always new people trickling into the Discord, so come by if you’re looking for a place to nerd out with fellow linguistics enthusiasts! https://lingthusiasm.com/discord

    This month’s bonus episode is outtake stories from Lingthusiasm interviews! We've interviewed lots of great linguists on Lingthusiasm, and sometimes there's a story or two that we just don't have space for in the main episode, so here's a bonus episode with our favourite outtakes! Think of it as a special bonus edition DVD of the past few years of Lingthusiasm with director's commentary and deleted scenes. Join us on Patreon to get access to this and 46 other bonus episodes! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    For links to everything mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/640950463320260608/lingthusiasm-episode-52-writing-is-a-technology

    • 37 min
    51: Small talk, big deal

    51: Small talk, big deal

    “Cold enough for ya?” “Nice weather for ducks.”

    Small talk is a valuable piece of our social interactions -- it can be a way of having a momentary exchange with someone you don’t know very well or a bridge into getting to know someone better by figuring out which deeper conversational topics might be of mutual interest.

    In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about the science behind small talk: how we pick topics for small talk conversation, the fine art of media references from memes to movies, and our own tested strategies for dodging awkward small talk questions while keeping the conversation flowing, such as when you’re having a not-great time but don’t want to talk about it, and that ubiquitous linguist question “so, how many languages do you know?”

    This month’s bonus episode is a Q&A with lexicographer Emily Brewster of Merriam-Webster! Gretchen and Lauren get enthusiastic about the process of making dictionaries, posing your patron questions to lexicographer Emily Brewster of Merriam-Webster. We also talk about how lexicography has changed since dictionaries went online and in the era of social media, and the extremely esoteric process of getting lexicography jobs. Get all your lexicography questions answers, as well as access to 45 other bonus episodes by becoming a Patron! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm

    Announcements
    Crash Course Linguistics videos are available now and coming out weekly! https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtP5mp25nStsuDzk2blncJDW
    Keep an eye out for them around 2pm North American Eastern Time on Fridays for the rest of 2020 (except a few holiday Fridays) and into early 2021. If you want to get an email each week with some further reading and practice exercises on each topic, you can also check out the companion issues of Mutual Intelligibility. https://mutualintelligibility.substack.com/
    Become a Patron and get access to the Crash Course channel in the Lingthusiasm Discord to chat about each episode! https://lingthusiasm.com/discord

    For links to all the things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/637790657255227392/lingthusiasm-episode-51-small-talk-big-deal

    • 41 min
    50: Climbing the sonority mountain from A to P

    50: Climbing the sonority mountain from A to P

    “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

    • 41 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
450 Ratings

450 Ratings

GalConnect ,

Every Word episode

Listening now and laughing! You’re making some good points. Want to do an episode of “untranslatable” words? Wendypease.com

GingerBrajk ,

Engaging, Accessible for nonlinguists

About 10 episodes in and loving it so far. As a USAmerican, I love encountering the Canadian/Australian perspectives and their accents are delightful to my ears.

Episodes are just the right length.

Episodes are well-focused and have a great narrative shape— flat like a conversation with friends but with enough curve that the listener feels satisfied at the end

StableGenius64 ,

No one will ever be more enthusiastic about linguistics

Doesn’t matter if you’re a “linguistics person”, the hosts are so enthusiastic you can’t not be.

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