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20. Baby Talk

Episode description

Why do we all sound like idiots when we talk to babies? Don’t be embarrassed, we’re helping them acquire language. Child psychologist Ben Jeffes explains.

There is more about this episode at http://theallusionist.org/baby-talk. Say hello at http://twitter.com/allusionistshow and http://facebook.com/allusionistshow.

The Allusionist is a proud member of http://Radiotopia.fm for http://PRX.org.

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91. Bonus 2018

December 16th, 2018

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Throughout the year, the people who appear on the Allusionist tell me a lot of interesting stuff. Not all of which is relevant to the episode they initially appeared in, so I stash it away in preparation for this …

90. Dear Santa

November 30th, 2018

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Jim Glaub and Dylan Parker didn’t think too much of it when, every year, a few letters were delivered to their New York apartment addressed to Santa.

But then one year, 400 letters arrived. And they decided they had to …

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November 17th, 2018

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This is a story of feats of speed and endurance, of record-breakers, of champions… Typing champions.

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November 4th, 2018

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87. Name v. Law

October 22nd, 2018

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86. Name Therapy

October 8th, 2018

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“It’s the word that you use the most often and the soonest to describe yourself, and yet nobody’s really ever talked about how it kind of makes me feel like this.” Until Duana Taha, who, after a lifetime of feelings …

85. Skin Story

September 23rd, 2018

17:32

“I wanted a story that actually lives, and actually dies, and disappears.”

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84. Trammels

September 8th, 2018

19:49

Why would you write books or poems or plays with only one vowel? Or in palindromes? Or only using the example sentences in dictionaries? Sometimes …

83. Yes, As In

August 26th, 2018

26:26

“Really? As in the animal/foodstuff/music genre?”

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When your name is a word that is more usually a noun or adjective than a human moniker, you hear the same …

82. A Novel Remedy

August 13th, 2018

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81. Shark Week

July 28th, 2018

23:37

Today, we’re dipping into the Allusionist mailbag full of listeners’ linguistic requests, with the help of special guest Hrishikesh Hirway of Song …

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June 29th, 2018

26:59

Hello! I’m currently in hospital so am having to take a little time off work. Therefore, instead of a new Allusionist episode today, here’s my favourite audio piece I’ve heard this year: ‘S.E.I.N.F.E.L.D.’ from Ross …

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June 17th, 2018

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78. Oot in the Open

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25:17

There are two main places in the world where the Welsh language is spoken: Wales, and the Chubut Province in Patagonia. How did this ancient language take root in rural Argentina, 12,000km away from its home base?

Find …

76. Across the Pond

April 7th, 2018

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Pavement/sidewalk; football/soccer; bum bag/fanny pack: we know that the English language is different in the UK and the USA. But why? Linguist Lynne …

75. Ear Hustling

March 23rd, 2018

15:15

Today we’re going inside to open up the unofficial dictionary of San Quentin state prison, compiled by Earlonne Woods of Ear Hustle podcast.

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74. Take A Swear Pill

March 9th, 2018

29:09

CONTENT WARNING: there is swearing in this episode. But the happy news is: swearing is good for you! Dr Emma Byrne, author of Swearing Is Good For You, explains how swearing can be beneficial to your physical health and …

73. Supername!

February 24th, 2018

18:52

Up in the sky: look! It’s an adjective! It’s a noun! It’s…Adjectivenoun! 

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72. Hey

February 9th, 2018

20:18

“Hey.”

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“What’s your glasses prescription?”

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71. Triumph/Trumpet/Top/Fart

January 26th, 2018

18:03

It’s a year since Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. And in that year, he’s caused a lot of changes in the job of constitutional law professor Elizabeth Joh of TrumpConLaw podcast – …

70. Bonus 2017

December 23rd, 2017

20:22

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69. How the Dickens stole Christmas

December 9th, 2017

27:19

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68. Curse Soup

November 25th, 2017

15:15

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67. Open Me part II

November 10th, 2017

25:43

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66. Open Me part I

October 27th, 2017

19:32

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One …

65. Eponyms III: Who’s That Guy?

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64. Technobabble

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63. Evolution of Accents

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“Accent is identity. It’s a way of encoding and signaling – almost completely at an unconscious level for most people – who they feel like they are, who they want to be seen as, what group they feel like they belong …

62. In Crypt, Decrypt

September 2nd, 2017

27:45

Crossword-solving is often a solitary activity – over breakfast; on the train; on the loo… But a few times a year, crossword puzzle enthusiasts …

61. In Your Hand

August 19th, 2017

13:10

“It’s sort of frozen body language; that’s what handwriting analysis is about.”

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60. Zillions

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59. One To Another

June 30th, 2017

19:48

Translation, A Love Story:

Translator listens to The Allusionist. Translator hears about the podcast The Memory Palace. Translator listens to The Memory Palace. Translator immediately becomes smitten with The Memory …

58. Eclipse

June 16th, 2017

23:03

It’s August 2007. Lauren Marks is a 27-year-old actor and a PhD student, spending the month directing a play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She’s …

57. AD/BC

June 2nd, 2017

16:03

There’s a small matter I trip over regularly in the Allusionist:

Dates.

Not the fruit.

Specicially, the terms BC and AD, Before Christ and Anno …

56. Joins

May 19th, 2017

21:29

As discussed in episode 51, Under the Covers part II, the vocabulary for sex and associated body parts is tricky to navigate in many ways – but even …

55. Namaste

May 5th, 2017

17:52

54. The Authority

April 14th, 2017

13:57

“Sometimes you want to make the dictionary sexy but it’s just not a sexy thing,” says Kory Stamper, lexicographer for the Merriam-Webster dictionaries. Sorry if this is disillusioning news for you. The dictionary is not …

53. The Away Team

April 1st, 2017

16:18

“Recognizing someone’s humanity is crucial. Calling someone a migrant, calling someone an asylum seeker, calling them a refugee: these are official categories. But in many ways, depending on how they use them, they can …

14 rerun: Behave

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14:06

52. Sanctuary

March 7th, 2017

16:32

The term ‘sanctuary cities’ has been in the news a lot in the past few weeks, as places in the USA declare themselves to be havens for undocumented immigrants. Though ‘sanctuary’ has a history of meaning safety for the …

51. Under the Covers – part II

February 21st, 2017

15:33

Does the available vocabulary for sex leave something to be desired? Namely desire? (And also the ability to use it wthout laughing/dying of …

50. Under the Covers – part I

February 8th, 2017

17:14

Escape into the loving embrace of a romance novel – although don’t think you’ll be able to escape gender politics while you’re in there. Bea and Leah …

49. Bonus 2016

December 30th, 2016

17:19

Why is gaslighting ‘gaslighting’? What do bodily fluids have to do with personality traits? Why does ‘cataract’ mean a waterfall and an eye condition? And do doctors really say ‘Stat!’ or is that just in ER?

To round …

48. Winterval

December 6th, 2016

12:42

There’s a word that has become shorthand for ‘the war on Christmas’ with a side of ‘political correctness gone mad’: Winterval.

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47. The Year Without a Summer

November 21st, 2016

20:56

Today: a tale of darkness, gathering storms, and a terrifying creature that resembles a human man…

46. The State Of It

November 4th, 2016

19:21

Each of the 50 states in the USA has its own motto. The motto might be found on the state seal, or the state flag; more often than not, it might be in Latin, or Spanish, or Chinook; it might be a phrase or a single …

45. Eponyms II: Name That Disease

October 16th, 2016

18:03

If you love eponyms like Roman Mars loves eponyms, I’m afraid physician Isaac Siemens is here to deliver some bad news: medics are ditching them, in favour of terms that a) contain information about what the ailment …

44: This Is Your Brain On Language

October 3rd, 2016

12:53

43. The Key part II: Vestiges

September 20th, 2016

12:33

If you don’t have a Rosetta Stone to hand, deciphering extinct languages can be a real puzzle, even though they didn’t intend to be. They didn’t intend to become extinct, either, but such is the life (and death) of …

42. The Key part I: Rosetta

September 7th, 2016

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Languages die. But if they’re lucky, a thousand-odd years later, someone unearths an artefact that brings them back to life.

Laura Welcher of the Rosetta Project shows us the Rosetta Disk, a slice of electroplated …

41. Getting Toasty

August 21st, 2016

16:59

When you choose to spend the winter in Antarctica, you’ll be prepared for it to be cold. You know that nobody will be leaving or arriving until …

40. Olympics

August 5th, 2016

8:52

On your marks…

39. Generation What?

July 13th, 2016

15:00

Which are you: Millennial, Generation X, Baby Boomer, Silent Generation, an impressively young-looking Arthurian Generation? Or are you an individual who refuses to be labelled? Demographer Neil Howe, author Miranda …

38. Small Talk

June 25th, 2016

12:52

“How are you?”

“Oh, fine – and you?”

“Yeah, not bad. Nice day today, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it was a bit chilly this morning, but now the sun’s come out…” [Continue until the lift arrives, or until the end of time.]

Small …

12 rerun: Pride

June 14th, 2016

13:27

This week seems like a good one to listen again to last year’s episode Pride, about how the word came to be chosen for LGBTQ Pride. Activist and …

37. Brand It

May 29th, 2016

19:24

Got a company or a product or a website you need to name? Well, be wary of the potential pitfalls: trademark disputes; pronounceability; being mistaken for a dead body… Name developer Nancy Friedman explains how she …

36. Big Lit

May 17th, 2016

14:33

‘Classics’ started off meaning Latin and Greek works, then works that smacked of similar, and now – what, exactly? Books that are full of bonnets and …

35. Word of the Day

May 1st, 2016

13:08

Open up a dictionary, and you’ll find the history of human behaviour, the key to your own psychological state, and a lot of fun words about cats. …

34. Continental

April 17th, 2016

13:32

‘Continent’, as in a land mass, is much more complicated semantically than the bodily function control sense of ‘continent’.

Plus: more ‘please’, …

33. Please

April 1st, 2016

14:50

There’s an ocean between Britain and the USA, but an even wider division between each country’s use of a particular word: ‘please’.

Linguists Lynne …

32. Soho

March 18th, 2016

12:17

Around the world, there are several places called Soho, getting their names from an acronym/portmanteau-ish composite of local streets or neighbouring areas. But not the original Soho in London. In fact, London’s place …

31. Post-Love

March 5th, 2016

16:51

Breaking up is hard to do, and it’s hard to put into appropriate words. Comedian Rosie Wilby seeks a better term for ‘ex’, and family law barrister …

30. US Election Lexicon

February 17th, 2016

17:12

The 2016 US election isn’t going away anytime soon, so let’s seek refuge in etymology. Consider the linguistically appropriate age of a senator, and …

29. WLTM part II

February 6th, 2016

19:56

You’re looking for your perfect partner, but dating sites keep matching you with duds. So what do you do? Conduct an elaborate linguistic experiment, of course!

At least, that was futurist Amy Webb’s response to the …

28. WLTM part I

January 28th, 2016

19:33

Your online dating profile is the latest spin on a 300-year-old tradition of advertising yourself in order to find a spouse, a sexual partner, or …

27. Bonus 2015

December 23rd, 2015

15:00

For the last episode of 2015, here’s a melange of etymologies requested by listeners, and anecdotes there wasn’t room for in the show earlier this …

26. Xmas Man

December 2nd, 2015

13:27

CONTENT WARNING: Be wary of listening to this episode around young children, as there may be life spoilers. Historian Greg Jenner traces the origins of that mythical beardy man who turns up in December with gifts. Helen …

25. Toki Pona

November 19th, 2015

17:44

There’s a language which is said to be the smallest language in the world. It has around 123 words, five vowels, nine consonants, and apparently you can become fluent in it with around 30 hours’ study. It was invented …

24. Spill Your Guts

November 4th, 2015

17:20

It’s cathartic; it’s a useful historical record; and it might help you behave better on public transport. Neil Katcher and Dave Nadelberg from …

23. Criminallusionist

October 29th, 2015

21:32

Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer from the podcast Criminal stop by to talk about the linguistic challenges of crime reporting. They also share their …

22. Vocables

October 21st, 2015

10:47

La la la, dum di di dum, a wop bop a loo bop a wop bom bom – why are songs riddled with non-words masquerading as words? Hrishikesh Hirway from Song Exploder and songwriter Tony Hazzard explain.

Read more about this …

21. Eponyms I: The Ballad of Bic and Biro

October 14th, 2015

17:34

Naming something after yourself: a grand display of egomania, or the humble willingness to be overshadowed by your own product? Stationery expert James Ward tells the tale of the people who begat the eponymous ballpoint …

19. Architecting About Dance

September 24th, 2015

14:31

“Talking about music is like dancing about architecture” is a problematic statement: not just because nobody can agree on who came up with it, but …

18. Fix part II

September 9th, 2015

14:55

The messiness of English is the price of its success. It is the most widely spoken language in the world, geographically, being an official language in 88 different countries, and there are countless different versions …

17. Fix part I

August 28th, 2015

18:27

The English language is a mess. And if you don’t like it, what are you going to do about it – fix it? Good luck with that.

In the early 18th century, a movement of grammarians and authors wanted to set up an official …

16. Word Play

August 12th, 2015

13:15

Words are all over the place. So how do you turn them into fun games? Here to show the way is Leslie Scott, founder of Oxford Games and inventor of more than forty games – including word games such as Ex Libris, Anagram …

15. Step Away

July 29th, 2015

18:01

‘Step-‘, as in stepparents or stepchildren, originated in grief. Family structures have evolved, but are stepmothers now so tainted by fairytale …

14. Behave

July 1st, 2015

13:34

13. Mixed Emojions

June 17th, 2015

15:38

Emoji allow communication without words. Could emoji be the universal language of the 21st century? Matt Gray and Tom Scott, founders of the …

12. Pride

June 3rd, 2015

13:14

“The poison is shame. The antidote is pride.”

It’s June; the President of the USA has officially designated it LGBT Pride Month, and there’ll be Pride events around the world. But how did the word ‘pride’ came to be …

11. Brunchtime

May 20th, 2015

13:04

10. Election Lexicon

May 6th, 2015

9:46

On the eve of the 2015 General Election in the UK, take a jaunt through the etymology of election-related words. Find out why casting a vote should …

9. The Space Between

April 22nd, 2015

10:01

I know this is a show about words, but forget the words for a moment; look at the spaces between the words. Without the spaces, the words would be …

8. Crosswords

April 8th, 2015

16:40

Cryptic crosswords: delightful brain exercise, or the infernal taunting of the incomprehensible? Either way, crossword setter John Feetenby explains …

7. Mountweazel

March 25th, 2015

15:50

You’d think you could trust dictionaries, but it turns out, they are riddled with LIES.

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6. The Writing On The Wall

March 11th, 2015

15:59

Those words on museum walls that you can’t be bothered to read? They’re more important than you think…

5. Latin Lives!

February 25th, 2015

13:25

Every week since September 1989, a radio station in Finland has broadcast a weekly news bulletin…in Latin.

WHY?

Let’s find out!

Visit …

4. Detonating the C-Bomb

February 11th, 2015

16:39

WARNING: this episode contains lots of swearing and words which some of you may find offensive. If, however, you love offensive words, you will enjoy this episode, which is all about how the C-word doesn’t deserve to be …

3. Going Viral

January 28th, 2015

14:54

Remember when ‘viral’ used to only mean something bad, IE something that would make you ill or destroy your computer?

How things have changed. Tom …

2. Bosom Holder

January 14th, 2015

13:00

1. Ban The Pun.

January 14th, 2015

15:23

In late 2014, China announced it was to ban puns. Helen Zaltzman wishes she could ban puns in her own family.

Warning: this episode features some …

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