15 episodes

Linguistics After Dark is a podcast where three linguists (and sometimes other people) answer your burning questions about language, linguistics, and whatever else you need advice about. We have three rules: any question is fair game, there's no research allowed, and if we can't answer, we have to drink.

It's a little like CarTalk for language: call us if your language is making a funny noise, and we'll get to the bottom of it, with a lot of rowdy discussion and nerdy jokes along the way. At the beginning of the show, we introduce a new linguistics term, and there's even a puzzler at the end!

Linguistics After Dark Linguistics After Dark

    • Science
    • 4.7 • 27 Ratings

Linguistics After Dark is a podcast where three linguists (and sometimes other people) answer your burning questions about language, linguistics, and whatever else you need advice about. We have three rules: any question is fair game, there's no research allowed, and if we can't answer, we have to drink.

It's a little like CarTalk for language: call us if your language is making a funny noise, and we'll get to the bottom of it, with a lot of rowdy discussion and nerdy jokes along the way. At the beginning of the show, we introduce a new linguistics term, and there's even a puzzler at the end!

    Episode 9: You Can't Live A Dangerous Banana

    Episode 9: You Can't Live A Dangerous Banana

    Wherein we finish the podcast in under four hours!

    Jump right to:

    5:43 Language Thing Of The Day: Transitivity
    34:55 Question 1: Are accents predictable? That is, there are specific accents people have based on the languages they have learned, and often these have specific-enough features to have stereotypes. But would a native speaker of Parisian French have the stereotypical “French accent” when speaking English even if they had grown up in a cultural vacuum or learned English from a book? Further, if this is predictable like this, is it sufficient to predict the accent a native speaker of Quenya or Lojban might have when they were learning English the first time?
    51:37 Question 2: Have you noticed people using [ts] instead of [t] at the beginning of words, and why might that happen?
    1:04:34 Question 3: How do songs in tonal languages work? How do the speakers distinguish between the melody and the tone?
    1:13:01 The puzzler: Change one letter each in the names of two rival NFL teams to get synonyms for the name of a third NFL team

    Covered in this episode:

    Transitivity vs. intransitivity and ergative vs. accusative verbs
    Why you can give a mouse a cookie but you cannot sleep a sandwich
    Standard phonological mistakes
    A rat whose name is not Cheese-teeth
    Political allegiances of the Noldor
    Too vs. tsoo and Tuesday vs. Tyuesday vs. Chewsday
    English is a tonal language
    “Trash” and “ashtray” are (we hope) not the names of beverages

    Links and other post-show thoughts:

    Pseudo-reflexive verbs in Romance languages (i.e. “i bathe myself” etc)?
    In re hypothetical tri-transitive verbs: Wikipedia suggests “bet” and “trade”, citing a paper we couldn’t actually access, but you can try to dig it up if you want to read more. Not everyone agrees, though
    “Complex transitive verb” can mean different things and not everyone agrees on that, either
    Unaccusative vs. unergative intransitive verbs in English (depending on which argument is missing)
    Valency), aka the real word for the marble slots we talked about
    Mary Spender’s youtube channel
    Chris Punsalan and his grandma of Chooseday fame (Grandma has passed away since we recorded this episode, but there is an extensive backlog of her being very sweet if that's your thing)
    ⟨Triangle⟩ spelled as ⟨chriego⟩ because kids are very good at phonetics actually
    Okay, in retrospect, it should have been more obvious that Chinese media using hardcoded subtitles more often than English media relates as much or more to the HUGE number of topolects in their media market than difficulty hearing tones (even in music)
    Old/Classical/Archaic Chinese is now suspected to be atonal, but Middle/Ancient Chinese aka Qieyun did have tones and overlaps the written record of Chinese music, including the establishment of Yayue and Chinese opera which does appear to make use of tones. (This is extremely complex and if you’re interested, you should do a lot more digging yourself! Our post-production research is still limited ^^;)

    Ask us questions:
    Send your questions (text or voice memo) to questions@linguisticsafterdark.com, or find us as @lxadpodcast on all the usual socials.

    Credits:
    Linguistics After Dark is produced by Emfozzing Enterprises. Edited by Luca, captioned by our new intern Harrison, and show notes by Sarah and Jenny. Our music is "Covert Affair" by Kevin MacLeod.

    And until next time… if you weren’t consciously aware of your tongue in your mouth, now you are :)

    • 1 hr 16 min
    Episode 8: No Linguist Can Afford That House

    Episode 8: No Linguist Can Afford That House

    Wherein we KISS-FIST linguistics.

    Jump right to:


    3:15 Linguistics Thing Of The Day: Garden path sentences
    25:05 How do [in/formal] registers change over time; do they stairstep as we invent new informal registers and then everything bumps up a notch and the old formal registers fall off as “staid”, or is it nonuniform?
    37:21 Audio question! Is linguistics a science? Is it a prestigious science? Why or why not?
    58:03 What are your favorite words that don’t have an English equivalent or cannot be translated into English?
    1:16:20 Listeners, what are your favorite words that haven't been fully un-italicized into English yet?
    1:18:18 The puzzler: Think of an informal term for a beverage. Now say it in pig Latin, and you'll have an informal term for another beverage. What two beverages are these?

    Covered this episode:


    The beverage fandom
    The euphemism treadmill
    Real-time language processing
    How Sarah likes syntactic ambiguity more than most people
    Linguists are not (necessarily) translators
    Linguistics is not physics
    Yoinking words from language to language
    Are toilets pieces of furniture?

    Links and other post-show thoughts:


    The headline “Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms” was actually spotted by American editor Mike O’Connell and shared to a linguistics forum, where another member, Dan Bloom, suggested “crash blossoms” as a term, as summarized on the Language Log and expanded on by the New York Times
    XKCD #435: Purity about applied sciences
    XKCD #2381: The True Name Of The Bear about the euphemism treadmill
    That diagram Sarah mentioned about all the branches of linguistics
    McGill professors Lisa deMena Travis and Jessica Coon’s offices were used as references for Arrival as described on the Language Log here, here, here, and here
    SciComm people we named who you should look up: Vihart, Matt Parker, Numberphile for math. Brian Green, Michio Kaku, Brian Cox for physics. Language Log, John McWhorter, Gretchen McCulloch, Lauren Gawne for linguistics. English usage, Brian Garner and Grammar Girl.

    Ask us questions:

    Send your questions (text or voice memo) to questions@linguisticsafterdark.com, or find us as @lxadpodcast on all the usual socials.

    Credits:

    Linguistics After Dark is produced by Emfozzing Enterprises. Edits by Luca, transcript by Jenny, show notes by Sarah. Our music is "Covert Affair" by Kevin MacLeod.

    And until next time… if you weren’t consciously aware of your tongue in your mouth, now you are :)

    • 1 hr 20 min
    Episode 7: The Fax Machine of Gondor

    Episode 7: The Fax Machine of Gondor

    Wherein we spin a shitpost question into linguistics gold.

    Jump right to:


    0:58 Mailbag; revisiting our treatment of linguistic typology
    12:14 Language Thing of the Day: The Comparative Method
    32:32 Question 1: Is English a creole?
    40:34 Question 2: Are Old English and Modern English the same language?
    51:07 Question 3: Is there any part of language that isn’t just slang and jargon that’s made it into the mainstream?
    1:07:47 Last week’s puzzler answer
    1:08:33 The puzzler: Take the name of an old communication technology, add a letter, and mix the letters around. You should get the name of a new communication technology — what is it?

    Covered in this episode:


    How a language's words and syntax can fall into different places on the typology spectrum
    We're not Fractions After Dark, but we do like PIE
    Why Grimm's Law should be called Rask's Rule
    Star Wars spoilers via linguistic sound changes
    A linguistics hot take with merit
    The deterioration of the institution of marriage via etymology
    Time is the cement mixer of language
    A defense of business jargon

    Links and other post-show thoughts:


    Morphological Typology
    Sir William Jones's speech, with a quote presaging the comparative method
    Example of a Swadesh list
    Examples of Grimm’s Law
    Examples of English and German post-Grimm shifts
    English Is Not Normal: A Case for English as a Semi-Creole Germanic, by John McWhorter (The article doesn’t appear to be accessible online, unfortunately.)
    We tried to answer the question “how many Romance languages are there?” and the answer is both “a lot, more than you might think” and “the number varies depending on what counts as a language” which, honestly, we should have seen coming.
    The History of English Podcast and the Saga Thing podcast
    Lenition chart
    Bill Labov's study about women being the agents of language change comes from Principles of Linguistic Change, Volume 2: Social Factors, in particular chapters 8-11. We couldn’t find a PDF available anywhere.
    The beacons are lit! Marketing calls for aid!

    Ask us questions:

    Send your questions (text or voice memo) to questions@linguisticsafterdark.com, or find us as @lxadpodcast on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.

    Credits:

    Linguistics After Dark is produced by Emfozzing Enterprises. Edits: Luca; transcript: Luca/Jenny; notes: Jenny/Eli. Our music is "Covert Affair" by Kevin MacLeod.

    And until next time… if you weren’t consciously aware of your tongue in your mouth, now you are :)

    • 1 hr 11 min
    Episode 6: Hamburger. Hamburger? Hamburger!

    Episode 6: Hamburger. Hamburger? Hamburger!

    Wherein we find an excuse to recommend a bunch of music to you.
    Jump right to:
    2:26 Language Thing of the Day: Filler words14:17 Question 1: How did we get nicknames that don't seem to make sense? Like how did "Peggy" come out of "Margaret"?25:26 Question 2: Why do singers' accents almost always become less intense in their singing voices as opposed to their speaking voices?37:30 Question 3: How do we change the meaning of a sentence just by changing vocal pitch? Typed-out transcripts can lose the information conveyed by vocal pitch.1:04:32 Answer to last week's puzzler
    1:07:39 The puzzler: (Too long for Spotify! Check the post on our site!)Covered in this episode:
    Filler words in different languages (English, Japanese, ASL), and their discourse functionNames and their nickname equivalents: Margaret/Peggy, Theodore/Ted, Richard/Dick, John/Jack
    Backformed names (e.g. if Nate is short for Nathan, then Kate is short for Kathan)How nicknames are formed in different languages (Russian, Polish, Chinese)What are children if not longitudinal linguistic studies?The Beatles, Whitney Houston, Blink-182, the RamonesOur future as an advice podcastGilbert & SullivanEffect of language exposure before birth on babies' linguistic behaviorNetspeak and netiquette in the 2000sgr8, gr9, T9Because Internet and its audiobook versionCourt transcript style guides of the future
    How to destroy a stuffed sheep with a lightbulb
    Links and other post-show thoughts:

    Number One brand Thai iced tea (available loose or bagged)
    History of English podcast episode about first namesvlogbrothers video about the names John and HankPop punk accent article blink 182: "I'm an American guy faking an English accent faking an American accent," Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong told Rolling Stone in 1994.History of Punk docuseriesGilbert & Sullivan Modern Major General has excellent patter and limited lyrical. It was tough to find a G&S clip that had both by the same singer in back to back moments.Sondheim (Not) Getting Married Today has good patter vs lyrical.We couldn't find the My Cousin Vinny clip or Chinese nickname thread. If you find some, send them our way!
    The first five minutes: A sample of microscopic interview analysis by Pittenger, Hockett, and Danehy, which is a book from 1960 analyzing in minute detail the intonational meaning and paralinguistics of the first five minutes of a psychiatric interview.Ask us questions:
    Send your questions (text or voice memo) to questions@linguisticsafterdark.com, or find us as @lxadpodcast on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
    Credits:
    Linguistics After Dark is produced by Emfozzing Enterprises. Luca edits, Jenny Sarah transcribed this one, and Sarah Eli did the show notes. Our music is "Covert Affair" by Kevin MacLeod.

    And until next time… if you weren't consciously aware of your tongue in your mouth, now you are :)

    • 1 hr 12 min
    Bonus Episode: LxAD LIVE @ CrossingsCon 2022 (full video with audio description at the end)

    Bonus Episode: LxAD LIVE @ CrossingsCon 2022 (full video with audio description at the end)

    Wherein we #GiveLinguistsSwords. (Please note that this recording cut out a lot of background noise and claps/cheers, so if there is a weird volume jump up or down, that might be why.)



    Jump right to:


    00:04:42 Is syntax fake?


    00:10:14 Favorite and least favorite words


    00:23:48 How has profanity evolved with language?


    00:34:40 What are the rules for onomatopoeia and how do they differ across languages?


    00:41:13 What is lenition?


    00:47:56 How do puns work in other languages?


    01:02:15 What are fricatives?


    01:02:33 The LxAD backstory


    01:06:19 The first time we bring up L’Académie


    01:08:12 Dead languages work poorly on the internet


    01:12:44 Best stories of word mix-ups


    01:18:12 How do colors work in different languages?


    01:29:01 “It’s all Greek to me”


    01:29:55 Where did the word orange come from?


    01:31:36 Dialect-dependent homophones


    01:34:56 What’s the most useless part of language?


    01:40:29 Why is English spelling wonderful?


    01:59:42 Sarah has to pronounce the hardest IPA sounds


    02:07:30 The Thing At The End



    Covered in this episode:


    ⁠Kewpie mayo⁠


    That feeling you get when someone else is suffering and you’re just glad it’s not you


    How to be rude and insulting but still G-rated


    Translator love


    SWORDS


    On a scale of dead to Amish…


    How to accidentally come on to someone in Spanish and ASL


    Cappuccinos


    Moose


    ⁠Dessus vs. dessous⁠





    Links and other post-show thoughts:


    Due to our link shortener going down, please click through for the ⁠full list of additional links⁠.

    Ask us questions:

    Send your questions (text or voice memo) to questions@linguisticsafterdark.com, or find us as @lxadpodcast on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook.

    Credits:

    Linguistics After Dark is produced by Emfozzing Enterprises. Luca edits, Sarah does show notes, transcription is a team effort. Our music is ⁠“Covert Affair” by Kevin MacLeod⁠. Join us at ⁠linguisticsafterdark.com/volunteer⁠!

    And until next time… if you weren’t consciously aware of your tongue in your mouth, now you are :)

    • 2 hr 13 min
    Bonus Episode: LxAD LIVE @ CrossingsCon 2022

    Bonus Episode: LxAD LIVE @ CrossingsCon 2022

    Wherein we #GiveLinguistsSwords. (Please note that this recording cut out a lot of background noise and claps/cheers, so if there is a weird volume jump up or down, that might be why.)



    Jump right to:


    00:04:42 Is syntax fake?


    00:10:14 Favorite and least favorite words


    00:23:48 How has profanity evolved with language?


    00:34:40 What are the rules for onomatopoeia and how do they differ across languages?


    00:41:13 What is lenition?


    00:47:56 How do puns work in other languages?


    01:02:15 What are fricatives?


    01:02:33 The LxAD backstory


    01:06:19 The first time we bring up L’Académie


    01:08:12 Dead languages work poorly on the internet


    01:12:44 Best stories of word mix-ups


    01:18:12 How do colors work in different languages?


    01:29:01 “It’s all Greek to me”


    01:29:55 Where did the word orange come from?


    01:31:36 Dialect-dependent homophones


    01:34:56 What’s the most useless part of language?


    01:40:29 Why is English spelling wonderful?


    01:59:42 Sarah has to pronounce the hardest IPA sounds


    02:07:30 The Thing At The End



    Covered in this episode:


    Kewpie mayo


    That feeling you get when someone else is suffering and you’re just glad it’s not you


    How to be rude and insulting but still G-rated


    Translator love


    SWORDS


    On a scale of dead to Amish…


    How to accidentally come on to someone in Spanish and ASL


    Cappuccinos


    Moose


    Dessus vs. dessous





    Links and other post-show thoughts:


    Due to our link shortener going down, please click through for the full list of additional links.


    Ask us questions:

    Send your questions (text or voice memo) to questions@linguisticsafterdark.com, or find us as @lxadpodcast on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook.


    Credits:

    Linguistics After Dark is produced by Emfozzing Enterprises. Luca edits, Sarah does show notes, transcription is a team effort. Our music is “Covert Affair” by Kevin MacLeod. Join us at linguisticsafterdark.com/volunteer!

    And until next time… if you weren’t consciously aware of your tongue in your mouth, now you are :)

    • 2 hr 14 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
27 Ratings

27 Ratings

Jennisok ,

Sorry you’re gone

I just discovered this podcast in my search for linguistics knowledge. Too bad it’s clearly defunct but I’m enjoying the few episodes there are.

duzk mu ,

Next episode please

💯

SpaceyDaisy ,

Wish there were more episodes but I love watching it evolve

Love this podcast! It’s got something for newbies and people familiar with linguistics

I was super surprised to hear my field mentioned (forensic ling) and will have to check out that podcast!

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