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The Allusionist

170 EpisodesProduced by Helen ZaltzmanWebsite

Adventures in language with Helen Zaltzman.

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147. Survival: Today, Tomorrow part 2

"It's really good if we can get the changes through here - that can be an inspiration for other other countries or other places in the world," says Þorbjörg Þorvaldsdóttir, chair of Samtökin ’78, the national queer organization of Iceland. In 2019, Iceland passed the Gender Autonomy Act, which added an option for people to register their official gender as X; with it, the country's strictly binary-gendered naming laws were suddenly transformed. Other changes, like a new genderfree pronoun, are catching on; but overhauling a whole grammatically gendered language is no easy undertaking.

Find out more about the topics covered in this episode, and a transcript, at; and browse down your podfeed to listen to Today, Tomorrow part 1 about how Icelandic officially obtains new words, and navigates the challenges of being an old language in the present day; and the episode Name V Law, about the Icelandic Naming Committee and the strict laws before the updates discusssed in this episode.

Sign up to be a patron at and as well as supporting the show, you get behind the scenes glimpses, bonus etymologies, a trip around Iceland's museums via me, AND a delightful community of Teamlusionists!

The Allusionist's online home is Stay in touch at, and

Visit to obtain your Potato Fugue State sweatshirts and multidenominational Wintervalwear.

The music is by Martin Austwick. Hear Martin’s own songs at or search for Pale Bird on Bandcamp and Spotify, and he’s @martinaustwick on Twitter and Instagram. 

Our ad partner is Multitude. To sponsor an episode of the show, contact them at This episode is sponsored by:

• FT Weekend podcast, which explores the best of today's culture, art, food and travel. New episodes land on Saturdays, and you can listen for free in the places you get your podcasts.
• Bombas
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• Acorn TV, the streaming service featuring hundreds of dramas, mysteries and comedies from around the world. Try Acorn TV free for 30 days, by going to Acorn.TV and using my promo code allusionist. (Be sure to type that code in lower case.)

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