216 episodes

Adventures in language with Helen Zaltzman. TheAllusionist.org

The Allusionist Helen Zaltzman

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 2.9K Ratings

Adventures in language with Helen Zaltzman. TheAllusionist.org

    196. Word Play 6: Beeing

    196. Word Play 6: Beeing

    I went to the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee, to marvel at kids spelling words I had mostly never even heard of. But when you’re at Bee Week, the competitive spelling is merely the tip of the icebee.

    Find out more about this episode, get the transcript, and listen to the rest of the Word Play series, at theallusionist.org/beeing. And visit spellingbee.com for all the information about this year's tournament.

    Members of the Allusioverse also got daily Beecaps from my time at Bee Week, so if you want to read those, head to theallusionist.org/donate. Plus, you get regular livestreams with me and my collection of reference books, inside scoops into the making of this show, watchalong parties, and the company of your fellow Allusionauts in our delightful Discord community. AND you’ll also be keeping this independent podcast going. 

    This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman, with Martin Austwick of palebirdmusic.com.

    Our ad partner is Multitude. If you want me to talk winningly about your product or thing on the show, sponsor an episode: contact Multitude at multitude.productions/ads. This episode is sponsored by:

    • Understance: comfortable, stylish, size-inclusive bras and undies. Shop the range - there's a big anniversary sale 11-13 June! - and learn about your own branatomy at understance.com.•  Babbel, the language-learning app designed by real people for real conversations. Get up to 60% off your Babbel subscription at Babbel.com/allusionist.• Wildgrain, the subscription box for sourdough breads, fresh pastas, and artisanal pastries that you can cook from frozen in 25 minutes. Get $30 off your first box, PLUS free croissants in every box, when you start your subscription at Wildgrain.com/allusionist or use promo code ALLUSIONIST at checkout.• Squarespace, your one-stop shop for building and running your online empire/new home for your cryptic puzzle that takes months to solve. Go to squarespace.com/allusionist for a free 2-week trial, and get 10 percent off your first purchase of a website or domain with the code allusionist. 
    Support the show: http://patreon.com/allusionist
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 58 min
    195. Word Play 5: 100 Pages of Solvitude

    195. Word Play 5: 100 Pages of Solvitude

    Cain's Jawbone, a murder mystery cryptic puzzle novella in the form of 100 pages presented in the wrong order, has many millions of possible solutions but only one that is correct. 86 years after it was published, writer, comedian and crossword constructor John Finnemore solved it. And then, craving another 100-page cryptic puzzle murder story, he wrote his own.

    Get the transcript of this episode, and find links to more information about the people, puzzles and topics therein, at theallusionist.org/solvitude. The original Cain's Jawbone by Edward Powys Mathers, and John Finnemore's new The Researcher's First Murder, are both available to buy from unbound.com.

    This is the fifth instalment in the Word Play series about word games and puzzles; previous episodes include the history of anagrams, recent developments in crosswords, and turning words into games. The next episode will be about the Scripps Spelling Bee, which I am attending this week. I’ll be posting about my Bee time on facebook.com/allusionistshow, instagram.com/allusionistshow and twitter.com/allusionistshow, but members of the Allusioverse will be getting Discord updates as well as lolloping odd essays from the Bee, so if you want those, scoot along to theallusionist.org/donate - and you’ll also be keeping this independent podcast going, in return for which you get regular livestreams, inside scoops into the making of this show, watchalong parties, and the company of your fellow Allusionauts in our delightful Discord community.

    This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman, with Martin Austwick of palebirdmusic.com.

    Our ad partner is Multitude. If you want me to talk lovingly and winningly about your product or thing on the show in 2024, sponsor an episode: contact Multitude at multitude.productions/ads. This episode is sponsored by:

    • Understance: comfortable, stylish, size-inclusive bras and undies. Shop the range and learn about your own branatomy - like I did! - at understance.com.• Bombas, whose mission is to make the comfiest clothing essentials, and match every item sold with an equal item donated. Go to bombas.com/allusionist to get 20% off your first purchase.  • Squarespace, your one-stop shop for building and running your online empire/new home for your cryptic puzzle that takes months to solve. Go to squarespace.com/allusionist for a free 2-week trial, and get 10 percent off your first purchase of a website or domain with the code allusionist. 
    Support the show: http://patreon.com/allusionist
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 33 min
    194. Word Play 4: Good Grids

    194. Word Play 4: Good Grids

    Exciting things have been happening with crossword puzzles in the US: more constructors, more outlets to get puzzles published, clues and answers that would never have appeared even a few years ago, and puzzle packs raising a whole lot of money for charities and humanitarian causes. 

    You hear from crossword constructor extraordinaire Erik Agard, Juliana Pache of BlackCrossword.com, Rachel Fabi of These Puzzles Fund Abortion, and Adrian Johnson from Puzzles for Palestine.

    Get the transcript of this episode, and find links to more information about the people, puzzles and topics therein at theallusionist.org/grids. This is another instalment in the Word Play series about word games and puzzles; previous episodes include the history of anagrams, and turning words into games. 

    Content note: there is one Category B swear.

    This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman, with Martin Austwick of palebirdmusic.com.

    Become a member of the Allusioverse at theallusionist.org/donate and as well as keeping this independent podcast going, you get regular livestreams, chaotic inside scoops into the making of this show, and watchalong parties - AND to hang out with your fellow Allusionauts in our delightful Discord community.

    The Allusionist's online home is theallusionist.org. Stay in touch via facebook.com/allusionistshow, instagram.com/allusionistshow, youtube.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow etc.

    Our ad partner is Multitude. If you want me to talk lovingly and winningly about your product or thing on the show in 2024, sponsor an episode: contact Multitude at multitude.productions/ads. This episode is sponsored by:

    • Babbel, the language-learning app designed by real people for real conversations. Get up to 60% off your Babbel subscription at Babbel.com/allusionist.`• Home Chef, meal kits that fit your needs. For a limited time, Home Chef is offering Allusionist listeners 18 free meals, plus free shipping on your first box, and free dessert for life, at HomeChef.com/allusionist.• Wildgrain, the subscription box for sourdough breads, fresh pastas, and artisanal pastries that you can cook from frozen in 25 minutes. Get $30 off your first box, PLUS free croissants in every box, when you start your subscription at Wildgrain.com/allusionist or use promo code ALLUSIONIST at checkout.• Squarespace, your one-stop shop for building and running your online empire. Go to squarespace.com/allusionist for a free 2-week trial, and get 10 percent off your first purchase of a website or domain with the code allusionist. 
    Support the show: http://patreon.com/allusionist
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 46 min
    193. Word Play 3: Lemon Demon

    193. Word Play 3: Lemon Demon

    AJ Jacobs makes The Puzzler podcast, wrote The Puzzler book, and sometimes turns his whole life into a puzzle. He comes bearing word games, explanations of anagrams being used to precipitate wars and were key evidence in trials, tips for writing with a quill, below-the-knee insults, and tales of living constitutionally.

    AJ's new book is The Year of Living Constitutionally: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Constitution's Original Meaning. Find his work at AJJacobs.com.

    Get the transcript of this episode, and get links to more information about the topics therein and the other episodes in the Word Play miniseries, at theallusionist.org/lemon-demon.

    Content note: there are mentions of guns, historical punishments and violence, vomiting, and drunkenness. There are also a couple of category A swears, and some category C swears.

    This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman, with Martin Austwick of palebirdmusic.com.

    Become a member of the Allusioverse at theallusionist.org/donate and as well as keeping this independent podcast going, you get regular livestreams, insight into the making of this show, and watchalong parties - AND to hang out with your fellow Allusionauts in our delightful Discord community, where I am posting all my best/worst portmanteaus and portmantNOs.

    The Allusionist's online home is theallusionist.org. Stay in touch via facebook.com/allusionistshow, instagram.com/allusionistshow, youtube.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow etc.

    Our ad partner is Multitude. If you want me to talk lovingly and winningly about your product or thing on the show in 2024, sponsor an episode: contact Multitude at multitude.productions/ads. This episode is sponsored by:

    • Bombas, whose mission is to make the comfiest clothes - and, newly, slides! - ever, and match every item sold with an equal item donated. Go to bombas.com/allusionist to get 20% off your first purchase.  • The Art of Crime history podcast, investigating the unlikely collisions between true crime and the arts. Listen to the latest season, about Madame Tussaud, at ArtOfCrimepodcast.com and in the podplaces.• Squarespace, your one-stop shop for building and running your online empire. Go to squarespace.com/allusionist for a free 2-week trial, and get 10 percent off your first purchase of a website or domain with the code allusionist. • Home Chef, meal kits that fit your needs. For a limited time, Home Chef is offering Allusionist listeners 18 free meals, plus free shipping on your first box, and free dessert for life, at HomeChef.com/allusionist.
    Support the show: http://patreon.com/allusionist
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 51 min
    192. Word Play part 2

    192. Word Play part 2

    This episode, and the next couple of episodes, are about word games! Today, Joshua Blackburn recounts how his sons' uninspiring English homework led to him inventing the language quiz game League of the Lexicon; and Kathryn Hymes and Hakan Seyalıoğlu of Thorny Games explain how they make topics like language loss and deciphering alien language into creative play.

    Get the transcript of this episode, and find links to more information about the topics therein, at theallusionist.org/wordplay2.

    Word Play part 1, featuring Leslie Scott from Oxford Games, is nine years down your podfeed.

    This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman, with Martin Austwick of palebirdmusic.com. We'll be playing a space-themed show in the planetarium at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver BC on 18 April 2024; get tickets via theallusionist.org/events.

    Become a member of the Allusioverse at theallusionist.org/donate and as well as keeping this independent podcast going, you get regular livestreams, insight into the making of this show, and watchalong parties - AND to hang out with your fellow Allusionauts in our delightful Discord community, where I am posting all my best/worst portmanteaus and portmantNOs.

    The Allusionist's online home is theallusionist.org. Stay in touch via facebook.com/allusionistshow, instagram.com/allusionistshow, youtube.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow etc.

    Our ad partner is Multitude. If you want me to talk lovingly and winningly about your product or thing on the show in 2024, sponsor an episode: contact Multitude at multitude.productions/ads. This episode is sponsored by:

    • Squarespace, your one-stop shop for building and running your online empire. Go to squarespace.com/allusionist for a free 2-week trial, and get 10 percent off your first purchase of a website or domain with the code allusionist. • Babbel, the language-learning app designed by real people for real conversations. Get up to 60% off your Babbel subscription at Babbel.com/allusionist.• Wildgrain, the subscription box for sourdough breads, fresh pastas, and artisanal pastries that you can cook from frozen in 25 minutes. Get $30 off your first box, PLUS free croissants in every box, when you start your subscription at Wildgrain.com/allusionist or use promo code ALLUSIONIST at checkout.• Home Chef, meal kits that fit your needs. For a limited time, Home Chef is offering Allusionist listeners 18 free meals, plus free shipping on your first box, and free dessert for life, at HomeChef.com/allusionist.
    Support the show: http://patreon.com/allusionist
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 42 min
    191. Hypochondria

    191. Hypochondria

    The word 'hypochondria' has travelled from meaning physical ailments in a particular region of your body, to ones that are only in your mind. It has been in fashion, and thoroughly out; it has been subject to a range of treatments; it has been lucrative for quacks; and it's a very understandable form of anxiety - which I have, and so does Caroline Crampton, author of the new book A Body Made of Glass: A History of Hypochondria.

    Content note: this episode contains a lot of discussion about health anxiety. There are mentions of cancer, doctors and hospitals - but not detailed accounts of medical conditions or treatments. 

    Get the transcript of this episode, and find links to more information about the topics therein, at theallusionist.org/hypochondria.

    This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. The music is by Martin Austwick of palebirdmusic.com. We'll be playing a space-themed show in the planetarium at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver BC on 18 April 2024; get tickets via theallusionist.org/events.

    Become a member of the Allusioverse at theallusionist.org/donate and as well as keeping this independent podcast going, you get regular livestreams, insight into the making of this show, and watchalong parties - AND to hang out with your fellow Allusionauts in our delightful Discord community, where I am posting all my best/worst portmanteaus and portmantNOs.

    The Allusionist's online home is theallusionist.org. Stay in touch via facebook.com/allusionistshow, instagram.com/allusionistshow, youtube.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow etc.

    Our ad partner is Multitude. If you want me to talk lovingly and winningly about your product or thing on the show in 2024, sponsor an episode: contact Multitude at multitude.productions/ads. This episode is sponsored by:• Squarespace, your one-stop shop for building and running your online empire. Go to squarespace.com/allusionist for a free 2-week trial, and get 10 percent off your first purchase of a website or domain with the code allusionist. • Bombas, whose mission is to make the comfiest clothes ever, and match every item sold with an equal item donated. Go to bombas.com/allusionist to get 20% off your first purchase. • This Is How We Heal from Painful Childhoods: A Practical Guide to Healing Past Intergenerational Stress and Trauma, the new book from Dr Ernest Ellender. Find out more about his work and buy the book at healfromchildhood.com.

     
    Support the show: http://patreon.com/allusionist
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 49 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
2.9K Ratings

2.9K Ratings

sarahelize ,

Always Brilliant

Helen and The Allusionist are simply always brilliant. I listened to all the episodes and then started over again and now look forward to hearing the new ones and revisiting older ones too. Regularly mind blowing in the best way possible. 🎉👏

La Manifesta ,

Helen Zaltzman is a mensch!

The Allusionist is simply a great podcast. I have learned so much about the use and evolution of language, and Helen always has the most interesting and enlightening guests. She’s also ridiculously entertaining—I always look forward to her special episodes like the quizzes and Tranquillusionists, where she reads words in a calming tone of voice so you can relax. Her husband Martin Austwick’s music is the delightful icing on the cake, and makes every episode richer. But fundamentally, what makes The Allusionist great is that Helen is a truly admirable human being. She regularly has episodes that explore the boundaries of inclusive language. In 2020, she struck out on her own from the Radiotopia podcast network because the network’s roster of shows was overwhelmingly white, and she decided to free up the money paid to her so it could be used to increase the diversity of voices on the network. She walks the talk. If you ever get the chance to see her live, jump at it. And if you support the podcast financially, you’ll get a ton of cool material in return. Helen Zaltzman is, indeed, a mensch.

Mr. Music Head ,

I absolutely love Helen and The Allusionist podcast.

Thanks for years of great listening, Helen! Love the show.

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