Episode 313: That’s Hot. That’s Cool. (featuring Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm)

Boiling with rage. A warm embrace. A cool time in a hot town.

How do we think about heat and cold, and how does this work its way into language? And does this have anything to do with what the local climate is like?

Things are hotting up on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with Paul van Lieshout


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Episode 313: That’s Hot. That’s Cool.

Interview with Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm (complete) for patrons

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Show notes

Etymonline: radio
https://www.etymonline.com/word/radio

Candy Heart messages written by a neural network
http://aiweirdness.com/post/170685749687/candy-heart-messages-written-by-a-neural-network

Unknown language discovered in Southeast Asia
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-02/lu-lul020618.php

Unknown Language Discovered in Malaysia
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/unknown-language-discovered-malaysia-180968099/

 

 

George North: Meet the 16th-century ambassador who software says inspired Shakespeare
https://www.fastcompany.com/40528361/george-north-meet-the-16th-century-ambassador-who-software-says-inspired-shakespeare

Plagiarism software pins down new source for Shakespeare’s plays
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/feb/09/shakespeare-plagiarism-software-george-north

Anti-cheat software reveals Shakespeare ‘borrowed’ phrases from little-known manuscript
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2018/02/09/anti-cheat-software-reveals-shakespeare-borrowed-phrases-little/

Shakespeare stole from George North? How lucky for George North
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-heffernan-shakespeare-plagiarism-20180209-story.html

Book: Introducing “The linguistics of temperature”
Web link | Google Books link

ANTONYMY IN SEMANTICS
https://occiie23.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/antonymy-in-semantics/
Also check out Lynne Murphy’s work in antonymy

Justin Trudeau interrupts woman during Q&A to tell her to use the word ‘peoplekind’ not ‘mankind’
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/justin-trudeau-interrupts-woman-during-qa-to-tell-her-to-use-the-word-peoplekind-not-mankind-a3759316.html

Justin Trudeau Said ‘Peoplekind’ and Right-wing Media Is Very Upset!
https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/gy8bn4/justin-trudeau-said-peoplekind-and-right-wing-media-is-very-upset

Justin Trudeau apologises for ‘dumb joke’ after ‘peoplekind’ quote goes viral
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/07/justin-trudeau-apologises-joke-personkind-viral


Show tunes

Find the tracks we play on the RTRFM webpage for this episode.

Transcript

DANIEL: Hello, and welcome to this episode of Talk the Talk, RTRFM’s weekly show about linguistics, the science of language. For the next hour we’re going to be bringing you language news, language typology, and some great music. Maybe we’ll even hear from you. My name is Daniel Midgley. I’m here with Ben Ainslie.
BEN: Good morning.
DANIEL: On this episode, we are talking about hot stuff and cool words. How do we think about heat and cold, and how does this work its way into language? And does this have anything to do with the local climate? We’re going to find out from an expert because things are hotting up on this episode of Talk the Talk.
BEN: I encounter this problem linguistically every single day of my life during summer.
DANIEL: What do you mean?
BEN: Talking about temperature and the linguistic ambiguity of air conditioning. Do you turn the aircon up, or do you turn it down, Daniel? What do you do?! WHAT DO YOU DO?!
DANIEL: I love this question.
BEN: Like, because I’m a teacher in a room, right? So… I Have The Power, and so it falls to me for kids to be like, “Oh, sir, like, it’s too cold.” Then I can go, “All right, no worries, I’ll turn the air conditioning… down.” Right?
DANIEL: Well…
BEN: But in so doing, I am in fact increasing the temperature.
DANIEL: Yes.
BEN: By turning the numbers upwards! [LOOPY SCREAMING]
DANIEL: It’s one of those things where, you know, prepositions — did I say on the last episode? — prepositions are very slippery. The alarm went on; the alarm went off — they could both refer to the same thing, or not the same thing.
BEN: I’m hoping that we have a solution here, Daniel. I expect by the end of this hour you’d be able to say to me, “Ben, unlike every other linguistic thing we’ve ever done, I can give you a prescriptive absolute. You should say this.”
DANIEL: That may be a bit tricky, Ben, because that is not how I roll. In addition, Kylie’s not with us. We miss her. We hope she’ll be back next week. There’s something new that we’re doing this week.
BEN: Oh?
DANIEL: Every once in a while, I like to ask one of the great questions, and I’ve got one.
BEN: Why is the sky blue instead of purple?
DANIEL: That is a great question, but that is not the linguistic question that I want to tackle.
BEN: Right, linguistics, yep, that’s what our show is about, gotcha.
DANIEL: So I was on Facebook with my friend Lee. Hello, Lee. Lee is a linguist. She asked the question, “What word would you use as an adverb before ‘good’?” Like, you could say that something is ‘quite’ good or it’s ‘really’ good or it’s…?
BEN: Um… very good.
DANIEL: Can we go a little bit more slangy? Farther afield.
BEN: Hella good.
DANIEL: Hella. You could say something is ‘way’ good.
BEN: Super good.
DANIEL: I said ‘hell.’
BEN: Hell good. Hella good. It’s a very American thing.
DANIEL: It is?!
BEN: Yeah, I think so. If something’s hell good, it sounds very surfer dude. “Braw! That tube was hell good!”
DANIEL: Okay, well, my friend Lee said “I’ve never heard this before.”
BEN: Maybe… maybe it’s my upbringing in the States that made it seem like… I’ve heard it before.
DANIEL: A bunch of WA people jumped in though, and said, “Yeah, I’ve totally said that.”
BEN: Yeah, okay.
DANIEL: So I thought: is it a WA thing? So I made a Twitter poll.
BEN: Ah, yes.
DANIEL: And you can take it, and if you take it during this show, I’ll read the results out at the end.
BEN: Yay science!
DANIEL: Here’s how you find it: tinyurl.com/ttthellgood.
BEN: ttthellgood.
DANIEL: That’s tinyurl.com/ttthellgood, all one word.
BEN: I feel like we’re gonna get some hell good results from this poll.
DANIEL: I think so too.
BEN: Well, now that we’ve got science underway, what’s been going on in the news?
DANIEL: A new language has been discovered by linguists.
BEN: Delightful.
DANIEL: And not necessarily a new language. The headline says “undiscovered language,” but of course, it’s not undiscovered by the people who speak it; it’s just by linguists.
BEN: White people have discovered a language!
DANIEL: Well, they’re not all White, but they are linguists. There are about 7,000 languages on Planet Earth, and with so many languages disappearing, it’s nice to know that there are a few that are coming into the count. This language is called Jedek, and it is in the Malay Peninsula. There are researchers from Lund University in Sweden who sort of noticed this. They were in a village. There were people speaking a language called Jahai, and then they noticed that not everyone was speaking Jahai. People were speaking a language and they weren’t able to find anyone who had researched it. There are about 280 people that speak Jedek, which is pretty small as languages go, but actually if it’s a home language, then it can be quite healthy.
BEN: How does Jedek relate linguistically to Jahai and to the other languages that it kind of geographically butts up against?
DANIEL: If we’re looking at its ancestry, it is on the Austroasiatic part of the human language tree, spoken in Southeast Asia. It turns out that it is related to Jahai.
BEN: Okay.
DANIEL: So they’re kind of like sibling languages, or at least grandchildren languages. I’m just really encouraged to find that there are languages that keep popping up.
BEN: Cool.
DANIEL: Let’s move on to the next thing.
BEN: Okay.
DANIEL: Shakespeare.
BEN: Yes.
DANIEL: There’s been some movement in the Shakespeare world. Sounds like you’ve noticed this story.
BEN: No no no, I just said yes because Shakespeare is like one of those yay-boo topics for me.
DANIEL: Okay, well, let’s get into it.
BEN: Yup.
DANIEL: We’ve talked before about Shakespearean authorship, but now there’s a couple of researchers that have found maybe someone who’s had some influence on Shakespeare.
BEN: As in, like, artistically influenced?
DANIEL: Yeah, right down to the actual words.
BEN: Oh, okay.
DANIEL: There were a couple of researchers named Dennis McCarthy and June Schlueter who used plagiarism software and ran Shakespeare through it, along with a bunch of other stuff. And they think they’ve found somebody who had a bit of an influence: somebody named George North. He was an ambassador. Not a heavy hitter in Queen Elizabeth’s court.
BEN: Mm-hmm.
DANIEL: But still around. He wrote a book in 1576. It was unpublished. It was called “A Brief Discourse of Rebellion”. And what they noticed was that certain words in North’s text popped up in Shakespeare’s. In a passage on one single page of North’s manuscript, we see words like glass, proportion, fair, feature, deformed, world, shadow, and nature. They occur on one page of North’s manuscript, and they also occur in Richard III’s “Now is the winter of our discontent” speech.
BEN: Ah, okay, so like a fairly famous one.
DANIEL: And it would be weird for eight words that are so different to come up in such close proximity.
BEN: Do you know what my gut says?
DANIEL: What’s that?
BEN: This genuinely was the first thing that came to my mind.
DANIEL: Okay.
BEN: And the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to my head. So this guy has one fairly minorly sort of inobtrusive manuscripty thing that could be run through a corpus, right?
DANIEL: Never got published.
BEN: So it’s pretty unlikely that Shakespeare read this thing, and was influenced that way.
DANIEL: That is the one thing that I can’t get over, is like, how did Shakespeare read this?
BEN: Well, this is the thing. He knew him! Spoken interactions had to be the way that he was influenced by this guy. So these two sort of educated, probably fairly intelligent, but not particularly powerful dudes probably ran together.
DANIEL: Yeah, probably.
BEN: I do. I reckon they knew each other, and he was like, “Look, William, you write a lot of things. I’m just… I’m trying to do a thing here. Could you, would you do a…” What if it was the other way around?
DANIEL: Oh, very good, well, “Hey, can I see that thing you’re working on, Will?” It could have been either way.
BEN: When did the manuscript supposedly get written?
DANIEL: 1576.
BEN: And when did Richard III?
DANIEL: It was written in 1592. Maybe Will was like, “Hey, George, this is quite good.”
BEN: Yeah, absolutely. Well, and if he was an ambassador, it would have been a political text, so very relevant to a historical play like Richard III.
DANIEL: Good point, and that was another thing that the authors said: the similarity of words in North and Shakespeare matched up the best when they were both talking about the same things. They probably had drinks, and were talking about stuff.
BEN: I reckon Shakespeare probably was kind of like, “Oh man, I’m really struggling with this bit when like Richard III is like doing his big piece,” and North might have gone, “Oh, you know, actually — this is a bit embarrassing — but like I wrote like a dumb unpublished manuscript that kind of dealt with this stuff. You can read it if you want.”
DANIEL: “Want to see it?”
And then, yeah, he probably went through I was like “A lot of this is garb— oh, that’s not bad, though, and…” This is cool! I like this. This humanises Shakespeare quite a lot in my head.
DANIEL: Doesn’t it just? They have things that were learning about, who he was running with, and what they were reading
BEN: That’s great. That’s really cool. I like that a lot.
DANIEL: Well we’d probably better cut to a track here.
BEN: Okay.
DANIEL: Because we’ve got a lot of stuff to talk about about hot and cold.
BEN: Mm-hmm. Where do the air conditioners go — up or down? I need answers.
DANIEL: Ben, I don’t know if I’m gonna get to that one today.
BEN: [ANNOYED GRUNT]
DANIEL: Okay okay okay! But now let’s take a track, and this one is Last Quokka with ‘Northern Suburbs’ on RTRFM 92.1. Remember, if you have any questions or comments about anything that you hear, why don’t you get them to us. Email: talkthetalk@rtrfm.com.au.
BEN: You can hit us up on twitter @talkrtr.
DANIEL: You can give us a phone call 9260 9210, or hit us up on our Facebook page.
BEN: There is such lovely people there. Such lovely people.
DANIEL: Yeah, usually Facebook people are just total dinkwads.
BEN: But no! Mm-mmm! Not our people. Our people are good people.

[MUSIC]

BEN: We are talking about the linguistics of temperature this week on Talk the Talk. Hot. Cold. Simple, right? Wrong! Wrong! It’s wrong. It’s not simple.
DANIEL: It’s so very wrong.
BEN: So very wrong. Because an air-conditioner up or down people? Do you turn it up or down if it’s too cold? What do you do to the air-conditioner?! [WHISPERS] Do you turn it up, or do you turn it down?
DANIEL: It just makes sense in context.
BEN: [ANGRY SOUND]
DANIEL: We get emails, and I got one from listener Shannon.
BEN: Hi, Shannon.
DANIEL: She says: “Hi Talk the Talk team, I had this random thought, based on conversations you had, somewhat related to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. I know you’ve brought up languages that don’t have numbers beyond three and how that affects perception of quantity, but I was wondering if there was anything like this for, perhaps, opposites. Like, if for one culture/language warm is the opposite of hot (instead of cold). I tried to research this but nothing came up. There’s a possibility I wasn’t searching well, or maybe it is because it isn’t a thing. But I figured, if anyone knew, it’d be Daniel.”
BEN: Oh geez, no, Shannon stop it. Please stop it, okay? He… like, right now, you guys can’t see it. There is an insufferable smugness. There is a smile on his face like when the Grinch, before he becomes the good Grinch is just like: mm-hmm!
DANIEL: It’s the curly smile.
BEN: Oh, it’s so bad! Shannon: like, check yourself, all right? Check yourself.
DANIEL: I don’t know everything, but I know whom to ask.
BEN: [LAUGHS]
DANIEL: And that’s why I decided to take it up with someone who’s written a lot about the language of temperature. It’s Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm of Stockholm University. Before we hear from Dr Koptjevskaja Tamm, though, I would like you to think about expressions for anger that involve heat.
BEN: Steamed.
DANIEL: I felt steamed.
BEN: Like, boiling over.
DANIEL: Hmm, I was so mad, I was about to boil over.
BEN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um… [PAUSE] I don’t get angry very often. This is very hard for me. Emotions are so weird.
DANIEL: Emotions are weird, and it takes a bit of doing to understand them.
BEN: My god, Daniel, you could not have undersold that any more significantly… a BIT of doing? Ugh!
DANIEL: Sometimes you can bridge that gap with metaphors because what metaphors allow us to do is take something we understand like being hot.
BEN: Mm-hmm.
DANIEL: And helps us to transplant that knowledge to another domain.
BEN: Oh! “He was white-hot with anger.” White-hot with anger.
DANIEL: Yeah, and by extension: “I’m seeing red.”
BEN: “Seeing red” — of course.
DANIEL: Now George Lakoff in his book “Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things” talks about how we conceptualise things and stick them into language, and he argues that, to some extent, language is the way it is because we have experience with human bodies.
BEN: Yep.
DANIEL: And human emotions — many of us.
BEN: Sure. Other non-robotic creatures, yeah.
DANIEL: And then we write that into our language. We talk as if it’s true, and we use metaphors to help us understand. So, today is a little bit about metaphors and the language of heat and cold. So, now to our chat with Dr Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm of Stockholm University. I started by asking her about how different languages handle temperature.

MARIA: So, in some languages you actually don’t have a word for hot.
DANIEL: No word for hot?
MARIA: No, so what you will use there is saying something like “This is on fire.”
DANIEL: Oh, that’s interesting.
MARIA: Yes. So you have it, for instance, in the language Ewe, spoken in Ghana and Togo.
DANIEL: Mm-hmm.
MARIA: So if something is hot, it’s on fire, and it’s really — I mean, it is on fire. So it’s transparent. That’s how this expression looks like.
DANIEL: Mmm.
MARIA: And this is funny. I mean, it’s quite weird.
DANIEL: Yeah.
MARIA: That means that for cold, you have a special word which is different from everything else, but for hot, you use this expression. Isn’t that weird?
DANIEL: It kind of is, and yet if I put on my Whorfian Hat…
MARIA: Yes…
DANIEL: Someone might say, “Well, that’s quite sensible that they don’t have a word for hot because it’s hot all the time. You don’t need a word for that.” Am I on the wrong track, though?
MARIA: Well, I don’t know if it’s completely correct.
DANIEL: Yeah.
MARIA: But I’ve only found these examples in Africa, and in the very hot parts of Africa.
DANIEL: Okay.
MARIA: And I haven’t found anything like that for cold.
DANIEL: Hmm.
MARIA: So there’s a kind of asymmetry. So, I don’t know. I mean, I thought that was quite interesting.
DANIEL: Yes, that is interesting!
MARIA: But then the other thing is that… so getting back to this metaphor.
DANIEL: Yes.
MARIA: So you started with hot. So hot is spicy, and there’s actually a physiological similarity between hot things and spicy. I mean, it’s a whole bunch of things that are involved in perception.
DANIEL: I mean, chilies would still be…
MARIA: Yeah, there has been work showing that — what do you call this — like, pain receptors that are involved the same, involved in perception of heat and perception of very spicy things. So then you would think that this is universal. So in most languages you will have this…
DANIEL: I would think so.
MARIA: …but it is not. It’s far from so.
DANIEL: Really?
MARIA: So Spanish is not the only one, even in Europe. So in Russian, if food is spicy, it’s ‘sharp’.
DANIEL: Sharp.
MARIA: So you don’t use hot; it’s sharp, and what you in Swedish, you say it’s “strong.”
DANIEL: Okay.
MARIA: Yes.
DANIEL: So it’s sort of like we don’t have universals as far as that metaphor. We have to sort of choose what works.
MARIA: Yes, yes. So you don’t have universals here. And the interesting thing is, so I mean it’s not the only connection of metaphor, whatever, that you expect with respect to temperature because there are some other things that have been suggested to be universal. Like, you know in English, you have warm words.
DANIEL: Mmm.
MARIA: A warm person.
DANIEL: Oh, a warm embrace.
MARIA: Yes, you know these kind of things. So, it’s affectionate.
DANIEL: Yeah, okay.
MARIA: So something that makes you feel very nice. Cozy. And it has been suggested that this is something that is universal, that you will find it everywhere in all cultures and all in all languages. And this is far from being universal.
DANIEL: Oh.
MARIA: So I think that’s… that’s — I think it’s very cool. [LAUGHTER].
DANIEL: So I have to ask: if people in other places don’t refer to a ‘warm embrace’ or ‘warm feelings’ or a ‘warm discussion’, what do they say?
MARIA: That’s an interesting question, and which I can’t answer.
DANIEL: Okay.
MARIA: Because — you know the problem? I don’t know what a warm person is. How would you describe a warm person?
DANIEL: Well I guess a warm person would be a friendly person.
MARIA: Yeah, friendly, yeah? But it’s not only friendly; it’s something else.
DANIEL: Well, it’s… if there’s a warm per… they don’t mind getting close to you. There’s physical proximity, there’s… there’s… they don’t want to hurt you.
MARIA: Mmm-hmm.
DANIEL: Um. What else?
MARIA: Empathetic, perhaps?
DANIEL: Yeah.
MARIA: So I mean, it’s a whole bunch of different things that you attribute to warm, right?
DANIEL: Yeah.
MARIA: And then you get into this anthropological enterprise. [LAUGHTER] So in English, or in some of the other European languages, you have a whole concept where things belong together. It’s difficult to actually explain what is meant by this. If you go to a different language or different cultures, perhaps they just don’t have this concept.

DANIEL: That’s the beginning of a discussion with Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm of Stockholm University.
BEN: That is cool. I’m a little bit in love with this woman, I think, because she’s clearly so very smart.
DANIEL: You have warm feelings.
BEN: I do. I have very warm feelings.
DANIEL: I thought the discussion of spicy food and hot temperature was interesting.
BEN: Sharp is really interesting to me; that in Russian, hot — chili hot…
DANIEL: Hmm.
BEN: …is sharp. Because it just… I mean, scientifically, as she mentioned, capsaicin — the chemical in chilies that makes us feel like it’s burning — is the response… is the physiological response of being burnt. It fires off the same receptors.
DANIEL: And yet people describe it in different ways.
BEN: Sharp!
DANIEL: And there’s a lot of ways to do it.
BEN: Now we are not, unfortunately, because of the demands of radio, gonna be able to play for you the entire interview that Daniel has done with Maria. But if you would like to hear it, just head to our Patreon page. We’ve got them all available.
DANIEL: But now let’s take a track, and this one is a little known track by Mac DeMarco. This is called ‘Horse Hot Wee Wee Water’ on RTRFM 92.1.

[MUSIC]

BEN: If you’re just tuning in, another episode of Talk the Talk, RTRFM’s show about linguistics, the science of language. We are talking this week about… I guess about metaphor, and how temperature and bodies and language all kind of mix together in this gross weird cool way.
DANIEL: Of course, remember that temperature isn’t the same all over the world.
BEN: Hmm?
DANIEL: And we’ve seen that in places where it’s super hot, they don’t use words or metaphors of heat quite as much, or at least it shows a difference.
BEN: Yeah, yeah.
DANIEL: I’ve been speaking with Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm of Stockholm University, and she busts out some mind-boggling facts about hot and cold and the way we talk about them.

MARIA: So in some parts of the world, it’s cold which is associated with more positive things.
DANIEL: Oh. You mean like cool?
MARIA: Well, it can be something like peaceful.
DANIEL: Oh, wow.
MARIA: So, okay, the additional thing is that most languages of the world will not distinguish between warm and hot. So it will be the same word. So anything warm, right?
DANIEL: Okay.
MARIA: And then this word can be used for something that means dangerous, sexually aroused, if I may use this! [LAUGHTER] Or, what else? If you have calamities in the country.
DANIEL: Hmm.
MARIA: Sometimes it’s like power. So it can be all kinds of things. So it can be irritated.
DANIEL: Hmm.
MARIA: Starting with irritation, to something very very unpleasant.
DANIEL: This sounds really difficult to study.
MARIA: Yes yes, so it’s difficult to study! And then cold can be something like, as I said, peaceful, calm, these kinds of things which are associated with positive things in the culture.
DANIEL: So they would say “It’s cold”, and that would mean “That’s really nice.”
MARIA: Sort of. So people will say “This house is cold.” Again, in Ewe, I know that if you come to visit someone, they will tell you, “This house is cold.”
DANIEL: That doesn’t sound good to me.
MARIA: Well, it is very good. It means that everything is all right. But if they say, “The house is hot,” that means that someone has died.
DANIEL: Oh! Oh, wow.
MARIA: Yes.
DANIEL: Gosh. That’s the opposite of what I would have expected.
MARIA: Right, so that’s interesting.
DANIEL: Okay.
MARIA: And then going back to ‘warm’ in Europe, there’s some languages where this metaphor — a warm person — did exist, but it’s not used any longer, because “a warm person” would mean “a gay person”.
DANIEL: Oh, right. Okay.
MARIA: So you had this in the Hungarian and Slovak and Czech, some of the languages in Central Europe, and it’s quite interesting. I mean, because it has these uses so strongly entrenched that it has “warm person” — meaning pleasant and friendly — is not used any longer because it will be misinterpreted.
DANIEL: Wow. Now, one of the things I’ve noticed at the conference we’re at is that linguists are becoming much more open to the idea that non-linguistic factors are influencing language. And I’m kind of wondering: do you think that the patterns that you’ll be finding are going to be motivated by the ambient temperature of the place these languages are in?
MARIA: Sure.
DANIEL: Or do you think it’s going to have more to do with the languages that these languages come from?
MARIA: Oh, it’s a combination.
DANIEL: Yeah.
MARIA: It’s a combination. So it’s a lot of different factors. So some of these uses, some of these terms have to do with the history of the languages. So languages which are related to each other, they will have the same words,
DANIEL: Yeah, that makes sense.
MARIA: But they will not… don’t have to mean the same thing actually, so it’s quite interesting. And then culture is very important and climate is absolutely… I mean, they’re no doubt that it’s very important for these extended uses. So I mean, there’s a whole idea of social psychology that connects warmth and affection. So like, you know, the baby is warmed by his or her mother, you know, all these kinds of things. So there’s this association between nice feelings affection and warmth. But this whole idea comes from, you know, the languages and cultures spoken in Europe basically, which is where heat and warmth is quite important. I mean, in the part of Europe where I live — so right now it’s very cold. So warmth is something that has to be appreciated, and when you come to other cultures — so again, in Ghana, it’s hot. Even when it’s cold, it’s still warm, right? So it’s hot most of the time. So warmth is perhaps not something that you appreciate as much, and that’s something that is also reflected in these metaphorical uses. So I mean, if a lot of your energy is spent on… how would you say… preventing yourself from being overheated, you don’t want extra warmth! So that’s why affection will be related to something else. It’s not warmth. So I mean, that’s the idea. I think that it’s these climatic conditions do play quite a big role.
DANIEL: So, by the time your research is over, you’re gonna have answered a big question. But what is the question?
MARIA: Oh, there’s several questions. I mean the big question, I don’t know — okay, let me see.
DANIEL: I like that.
MARIA: The big big big question?
DANIEL: Yeah.
MARIA: Oh. The big big big question.
DANIEL: Well, the big big big question is: what is the influence of ambient temperature on the lexicon?
MARIA: Oh, well, there’s a bigger question. That’s how you conceptualise things. Reality — or whatever it can be — and what factors can influence this conceptualisation. And also the reverse side of this: whether this conceptual — ugh! I can’t pronounce it now! — conceptualisation in language, how it can influence you. I mean, I don’t know.
DANIEL: Yeah.
MARIA: Yeah, so I mean these are the bigger questions, right? And then, what factors can influence this conceptualisation, and this includes both linguistic factors, but also non-linguistic factors like climate, culture, history, biological preconditions, and all that.
DANIEL: This is big stuff.
MARIA: It’s big stuff, yes. So you can’t solve it immediately, right? But we are sort of working on bits of this puzzle.

DANIEL: That’s Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm of Stockholm University.
BEN: Big stuff. I love it.
DANIEL: So Dr Koptjevskaja Tamm is discovering how language, culture, and climate interact, and ultimately she’s discovering how we conceptualise reality. So you know, once that’s done, that’ll be really good.
BEN: Yeah, yeah, we’ll just knock reality conception on the head.
DANIEL: Bomp. I did pose Shannon’s question to Maria. Remember Shannon’s question?
BEN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
DANIEL: Is it possible that a language could have, instead of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ as opposites, have ‘hot’ and ‘warm’?
BEN: Well, I mean, Maria pretty much immediately put the kibosh on that, didn’t she? Because she blew my mind by letting me know most languages don’t differentiate ‘warm’ and ‘hot’.
DANIEL: Exactly.
BEN: What?
DANIEL: They’re handled with the same item in the lexicon.
BEN: Like, hot is hot. Hot is warm.
DANIEL: They’re both the same but here’s another mind-blowing thing Maria pointed out: that there is actually some literature on whether hot and cold are even opposites in English at all.
BEN: Okay, Daniel, Daniel, Daniel.
DANIEL: Yes…?
BEN: I’m… every now and then, I just need to warn you that potentially the thing that you’re about to teach me will be so disruptive to my understanding of the world that I will be very angry at you.
DANIEL: I…
BEN: The anger will pass — the anger will pass — all right? But I’m just acknowledging that, if you’re about to tell me that hot and cold are not opposites in our language, I might get very grumpy.
DANIEL: Well, usually they’re opposites, but there are some cases where they’re not. For example, a cold glass of water is not the same temperature as a cold day…
BEN: Sure.
DANIEL: …which is not the same temperature as a cold war, which is not the same temperature as cold blood.
BEN: Okay.
DANIEL: I don’t wanna make too big a deal out of these edge cases, but you know, there is some research that suggests that opposites are not as straightforward as all that.
BEN: Okay, fair enough, because they’re context-dependent, often.
DANIEL: That’s it.
BEN: But also they’re metaphorical often. Like, a cold war has no temperature.
DANIEL: And sometimes human language is very imprecise.
BEN: Whoof, tell me about it.
DANIEL: I mean, temperature is gradable, so it makes sense that the language we use to describe temperature would be gradable as well.
BEN: True. You can actually hear a much much longer unabridged interview, if you head to our Patreon page.
DANIEL: Big thanks to Shannon for that great question. But now a track, and this one is from Boards of Canada. This one’s called ‘Cold Earth’ on RTRFM 92.1.

[MUSIC]

BEN: And as we sit resplendent in the holy basking warmth of Daniel Midgley’s radiant glow, we ask ourselves: what possibly could be missing from this deep spiritual completion? As we search inwards, we find a tiny hole inside an otherwise blemishless fascia, and that tiny hole is this week’s Word of the Week.
DANIEL: I liked how you use ‘warmth’ in that bit.
BEN: Didn’t even… did not even do it deliberately.
DANIEL: So natural, isn’t it?
BEN: Yeah.
DANIEL: The word of this week comes from Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and it is “peoplekind”.
BEN: Peoplekind… ah… instead of mankind.
DANIEL: You’ve heard this story, haven’t you?
BEN: I have not heard this story, but I’m gonna go out on a limb.
DANIEL: Go for it.
BEN: Crazy old limb here, Daniel. I’m right out on the edge of it. I’m willing to wager that at least one person thought that this was PC madness! MADNESS!!!
DANIEL: You are correct, but let’s set up the scene here. So there was a Q&A, and one woman asked a big long question, and then finished up by asking him to check out the charitable status of religious organisations. She said, “Maternal love is the love that’s gonna change the future of mankind,” and the Prime Minister said, “We like to say ‘peoplekind,’ not necessarily ‘mankind,’ because it’s more inclusive.” And she said, “There you go. Exactly. Yes. Thank you.” A simple exchange, but for some reason ‘peoplekind’ just makes everyone foam and froth, especially…
BEN: PEE CEE GONE MAD!!!
DANIEL: I can tell you that on shows…
BEN: [INDISTINCT GARBLED FROTHING NOISES] That’s what I picture when I try and picture the person behind the typing comments that I see on such news stories.
DANIEL: I don’t have to imagine it, because for example on ABC Radio, when I do Speakeasy…
BEN: [LAUGHS] Boy oh boy, you must get some doozy callers!
DANIEL: …I have tackled this topic, you know, just to talk about the kinds of things that people are doing worldwide — hey, isn’t this interesting? And boy, the angry comments started early, and they just didn’t stop through the entire segment. So the idea is that some people like to avoid the use of the word ‘mankind’. What’s the problem? Well, people feel like representation matters, and if you say ‘mankind’, then you’re ignoring womankind.
BEN: Sure, and I, like, I think even the most sort of grumpy Jordan-Peterson-style language…
DANIEL: [SOTTO VOCE] You said his name.
BEN: …person needs to have at some point usually — I mean, I remember this thought occurring to me when I was really little, which is not my way of saying. “Oh, I was a real genius as a little kid,” but more just like: surely any little kid had this thought. “Oh, I wonder why it’s mankind, right? Like, why did men get that one?” And then of course you grow up, and you’re like, “Oh, because they ran everything for like several millenniums,” and I mean it’s not… it doesn’t seem to me like that much of a stretch to acknowledge that the continued use of the word ‘mankind’ is at the very least indicative of an ongoing power structure, right?
DANIEL: Yes.
BEN: Like, that doesn’t seem like a stretch, and it doesn’t seem like a thing to like admit, and thus give up all of the things, right? Like, it’s not like: You will concede that, and then every single thing that you’re fighting as a grammar grouch or as a linguistic grouch is now like bupkis.
DANIEL: And yet comment feeds are full of comments like, “hey, mankind just means people.” But if you find ‘mankind’ unacceptable, what do you use to replace it?
BEN: ‘Personkind’.
DANIEL: Ah, but then you could say that it’s got the word ‘son’ in it.
BEN: Oh!
DANIEL: And I’m only being partly facetious. Now, just a bit about that: Do you think that the ‘son’ in ‘person’ or ‘personkind’, if we traced it back far enough, do you think there would actually be a ‘son’ in there, as opposed to a ‘daughter’?
BEN: Is the… is the etymological root of that word actually got anything to do with a male offspring?
DANIEL: Take a guess.
BEN: No.
DANIEL: It doesn’t.
BEN: Yay!
DANIEL: ‘Person’ comes from Latin ‘persona’, a mask or a false face. That may come from Etruscan ‘phersu’, ‘mask’. And ‘son’ for its part took a different route. It comes from a Proto-Indo-European word ‘sunu’ which meant ‘son’. I’m not saying that this matters, but the ‘son’ is accidental.
BEN: Right.
DANIEL: In ‘personhood’.
BEN: It sounds like it, but it’s not.
DANIEL: How about this one: You could go with ‘humankind’, but that’s got a ‘man’ in as well. But is that just a coincidence?
BEN: I reckon that would be different as well.
DANIEL: It is. It comes from latin ‘homo’.
BEN: Right.
DANIEL: Which comes from Proto-Indo-European ‘ghomon’ which means ‘earthling’ or ‘earthly being’, so that was gender-neutral.
BEN: Yep.
DANIEL: I’m not trying to say that that’s the way it ought to be, and that’s not how people perceive it today. Which is fine.
BEN: Sure.
DANIEL: But that’s where it comes from. Whereas ‘man’, for its part, comes from a totally different Proto-Indo-European root from a long, long time ago, which was just ‘man’. Which also meant ‘a man or a woman’, so that was gender-neutral as well. Things change, words change.
BEN: But ‘human’ has a fairly solid gender-neutral root, whereas ‘man’ doesn’t have a gender-neutral root. Like, it might have come from a gender-neutral place, but it got very gendered.
DANIEL: Right, and when people think of ‘human’ they see the ‘man’ in there, and they think “Well, that’s gendered too.” So that’s fine. What happened a long time ago doesn’t matter as much as what’s happening now.
BEN: Right.
DANIEL: But ‘peoplekind’ is probably an okay alternative, unless you think that it sounds doofy. Which a lot of people do.
BEN: It… it does sound a bit. Peoplekind.
DANIEL: Peoplekind.
BEN: It sounds like the sort of thing that a Smurf would say: [SMURF VOICE] We gotta help peoplekind!
DANIEL: I don’t know what to do about it. ‘Humanity’, some people find that unacceptable, so I’m not sure what to do. ‘Peoplekind’ is just one option, but…
BEN: I think this is a great question for our listeners. So I’m sure we’ve got listeners who are like, “This is dumb, I don’t think this should be a thing.” But I would challenge that listener in particular to go, “Okay, cool, it’s dumb, whatever.” What could you use — if you had to accept that anything with ‘son’, anything with ‘man’, any of that kind of stuff is off the table?
DANIEL: Yeah.
BEN: What could you… I want you to be creative. Brian Eno famously said that the first thing he does when he makes music is reduce all of his options to, like, one. Like, one dumb synthesised instrument, and he forces himself to make music that way. I lay that challenge out on our listeners now. Like, that is your limitation. Whether you agree with it or not doesn’t matter — that’s the limitation. What could you say other than ‘peoplekind’ which Ben Ainslie thinks sounds dumb. Do better. Do better than ‘peoplekind’.
DANIEL: This might take some doing, so maybe while that’s going on…
BEN: Shall we make a Facebook post for it, that people can contribute their ideas to?
DANIEL: Good idea. If you want to, you can head over to our Facebook page, find the post, and give us your best shot. You have a little bit of time because we’re gonna play a track, but then I want to hear the best answers. I’ll read the best ones. In addition, please go over to tinyurl.com/ttthellgood. Give us your vote.
BEN: Voting time! Doing science.
DANIEL: Wow, this is really participatory.
BEN: Direct democracy at work.
DANIEL: Let’s listen to a track, shall we?
BEN: Please do get in touch in any of the ways, because apparently Daniel is very popular.
DANIEL: 92609210 on the phone, by email talkthetalk@rtrfm.com.au
BEN: You can always drop us a tweet @talkrtr, and as previously mentioned, even if you don’t want to contribute to the Facebook ‘peoplekind’ alternative idea, the people there are wonderful. You should go check it out. Our Facebook page is great.
DANIEL: But now here is Yumi Zouma with ‘Other People’ on RTRFM 92.1.

[MUSIC]

DANIEL: This is Daniel here at the tail end of Talk the Talk.

DANIEL: Lots of participation today. I’m really grateful for everybody who clicked to give me some linguistic data. Let’s start out with the Twitter poll, shall we? “Hell good”, or “hell bad”. For some reason, “hell good” sounds more likely to me. I wonder if that has to do with positive terms. Let’s see: Joanna @joannascience said, “I would probably use ‘hella’ instead of ‘hell’, like it was hella good.” And in fact, I have heard that a lot. The Taylor Swift song, of course. But let’s get to the data: as far as the Twitter poll, it looks like for those that responded, you could say that you were from WA, and “Yes, it’s said here” or “No, it’s not”, or you could be “Elsewhere, yes” and “no”. For WA people, it was 8 to 1 in favor of ‘hell’ as in “hell good”: “Yep, that’s the thing that I hear around me.” Elsewhere — and I know that elsewhere is a broad category — it was 9 to 1 against. 9 people to every 1 said, “Yeah, I just haven’t heard that at all.” So I wasn’t sure if this was a WA thing, or an Australia thing; it looks like that might be a fruitful sort of area of study.

DANIEL: Let’s go on to ‘peoplekind’. As I’ve said before, this is a very contentious sort of area. As I’ve said, whenever I bring this up, people seem to have a hard time with it. You do get various kinds of reactions in responses. You get the people who say “That’s dumb, because it’s etymologically unrelated,” and then you get people who say “That’s dumb, just ’cause it’s dumb.” And then you get the kind of people who say “Representation really matters, and maybe we should be looking at this,” and then a lot of other people say “We should be concerned about representation, but maybe this isn’t a pressing sort of area.” But out of all that, I did get some good responses. Dave commented that maybe ‘earthicans’ (from Futurama) would be good, and Holly rejoined “I can only read that in Richard Nixon’s voice: ‘My fellow earthicans.'” Lucian suggested ‘peeps’, and I suggested perhaps ‘peepkind’ would be an extension there. Mack says “Terrans seems more inclusive than anything else, unless you want to include the rest of the solar system. Solarans? or the galaxy: Milky-Way-ans.” — Milky-Way-ans I don’t think I like very much — “or the Virgo-Superclusterons”. That’s fine. Also Martin suggested something along those lines: “What about Tellusian, as in us the people of Tellus? Has a nice galactic ring to it.” Phil suggested “let’sbekind?” and I can’t say that I disagree. But in general, most people on the Facebook thread who responded thought that ‘humankind’ was just fine. The etymological thing gives you enough wiggle room to be able to say, “You know what? it sounds like the best thing that’s going on right now.” Peoplekind, as I said, does sound kind of doofy. It makes some people angry, but then everything does for some people. Carter on Twitter said “I think anyone who gets chippy about human having ‘man’ in it or person having ‘son’ in it isn’t really advancing the conversation about language equity” and @NFQblog said “I agree. I’ve been thinking about this all night and I’m still upset about the idea. Oh no, ‘man-ufacturing’! Why not ‘wymxn-ufacturing’? I want this to be a strawman but I’m so scared it’s not.” Well, I regard all of this with some interest, and it’s interesting to sort of take the temperature, and I would say that the temperature is running warm to hot — although in some languages, that is the same thing. I’m inclined to listen to this kind of thing, I’m inclined to go out there — because people who get super angry about this are usually kinda the anti PC sort of people who complain about political correctness, and I don’t mean to be completely reactive but I sometimes do. So I’m inclined to be charitable to the person/people/human/man thing.

DANIEL: Nick phoned in, 9260 9210, and pointed out that in Indonesian they have two words for hot. There’s ‘panas’ for temperature — it’s a hot day — and then ‘pedas’ for spicy hot — it’s spicy food. And it reminded me of Spanish, which has the same kind of thing. This was a big thing for my dad. This was like the coolest thing about language that he told me a lot of times when I was a kid: that there was hot and there was spicy hot, but we just have the one hot. And the first thing that we think is, hmm, maybe people who have the two words for things are just really good at distinguishing. And the second thing we think is, they must have those two words because they need them, because it’s important culturally. And you know, I have to say that linguists have generally dismissed these claims, but now what we’re seeing is more and more research coming in that suggests that, yes, our surroundings can and do have an effect on language. And that kind of makes sense, because people condition the lexicon of their language. They choose what words to say and what words not to say, and so languages are honed over millions of tiny little interactions to be efficient. So I’m a little more open to that view than I used to.

DANIEL: One last one from Noisy Andrew about Valentime’s Day, coming tomorrow. “If you’re really romantic,” he says, “you don’t need a day to prove it, as you do so almost every day. But since we’re on it, what language is the best one for romance? Is it French (sigh) or something else?” Let me just return to something that we’ve said before in other shows: the feelings we have about which languages are sexiest or ugliest or have the weirdest accents is just because of our feelings about it, and is not intrinsic to the language itself. So the most romantic language is the one that your intended inamorato or inamorata thinks is the most romantic. So find out what that is. Communication: as always, it’s a great thing.

DANIEL: Thanks for listening to this episode of Talk the Talk. Thanks to Tess for taking us Out to Lunch very soon. Sorry to Mary Schmick, whose name I mispronounced in the last episode. Until next time, keep talking.

[OUTRO]

BEN: This has been an RTRFM podcast. RTRFM is an independent community radio station that relies on listeners for financial support. You can subscribe online at rtrfm.com.au/subscribe.
KYLIE: Our theme song is by Ah Trees, and you can check out their music on ahtrees.com, and everywhere good music is sold.
DANIEL: We’re on Twitter @talkrtr, send us an email: talkthetalk@rtrfm.com.au, and if you’d like to get lots of extra linguistic goodies, then like us on Facebook or check out our Patreon page. You can always find out whatever we’re up to by heading to talkthetalkpodcast.com

Image credit: http://unisci24.com/234310-fire-and-ice.html

Episode 312: Words of the Year 2017

It’s Word of the Year season again, and Daniel was repping Talk the Talk at the year’s biggest vote.

But controversy surrounds the WotY. Is it too white, too old, and too male? How can this be helped?

Daniel regales Ben with all the highlights on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with Paul Van Lieshout


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Episode 312: Words of the Year 2017

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Show notes

Gretchen McCulloch: Herefefe is why it’s toughfefe to say ‘covfefe’
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/herefefe-is-why-its-toughfefe-to-say-covfefe/2017/05/31/3f43587e-463b-11e7-bcde-624ad94170ab_story.html

Fake news is ‘very real’ word of the year for 2017
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/nov/02/fake-news-is-very-real-word-of-the-year-for-2017

‘Fake News,’ Trump’s Obsession, Is Now a Cudgel for Strongmen
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/12/world/europe/trump-fake-news-dictators.html

Most young Australians can’t identify fake news online
https://theconversation.com/most-young-australians-cant-identify-fake-news-online-87100

Dictionary.com Word of the Year 2017: complicit
http://www.dictionary.com/e/word-of-the-year-2017/

Ivanka Trump interview: “If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good … then I’m complicit”
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ivanka-trump-interview-what-it-means-to-be-complicit/

‘Populism’ is Cambridge dictionary’s ‘word of the year’
https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/populism-is-cambridge-dictionary-s-word-of-the-year/story-lDCegHA5UAhnnwz7eByrfN.html

Linguist Geoffrey Nunberg’s word of the year: tribal
http://news.berkeley.edu/story_jump/linguist-geoffrey-nunbergs-word-of-the-year-tribal/

2017 Marketing Word Of The Year: ‘AI’
https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/311204/2017-marketing-word-of-the-year-ai.html

Weekly Word Watch: Kwaussie, tribal, and the Silence Breakers
https://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2017/12/08/weekly-word-watch-kwaussie-tribal-silence-breakers/

Oxford Dictionaries: Word of the Year 2017 is… youthquake
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/word-of-the-year/word-of-the-year-2017

Youthquake: behind the scenes on selecting the Word of the Year
https://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2017/12/14/youthquake-word-of-the-year-2017-commentary/

‘Youthquake’ Is Oxford’s Word of the Year. Sorry, Broflake.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/14/arts/oxford-word-of-the-year-youthquake.html?_r=0

Merriam-Webster’s 2017 Words of the Year
https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/word-of-the-year-2017-feminism

Column: 2017 was the year of the reckoning
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/schmich/ct-met-word-of-year-mary-schmich-20171205-story.html

Words of the year 2017: Fritinancy edition
http://nancyfriedman.typepad.com/away_with_words/2017/12/words-of-the-year-2017-fritinancy-edition.html

“Harcèlement”, le mot de l’année 2017 en Suisse romande
https://www.lenouvelliste.ch/articles/suisse/harcelement-le-mot-de-l-annee-2017-en-suisse-romande-719838

“Appongeluk” Named Netherlands’ Word of the Year
https://nltimes.nl/2017/12/19/appongeluk-named-netherlands-word-year

“Fake news” is 2017 American Dialect Society word of the year
https://www.americandialect.org/fake-news-is-2017-american-dialect-society-word-of-the-year

ADS nominees and winners (PDF)
https://www.americandialect.org/wp-content/uploads/2017-Word-of-the-Year-PRESS-RELEASE.pdf

What Is a Problematic Fave?
https://www.themarysue.com/problematic-faves/

The Ratio | Know Your Meme
http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/the-ratio

How to Know If You’ve Sent a Horrible Tweet
http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/news/a54440/twitter-ratio-reply/

Milkshake ​​duck announced as Macquarie Dictionary’s word of the year
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jan/15/milkshake-duck-announced-as-macquarie-dictionarys-word-of-the-year

Milkshake Duck: what it is, and why it’s coming for us all
https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/12/13/16767626/what-is-a-milkshake-duck

framily
https://www.macmillandictionary.com/buzzword/entries/framily.html

Now we can all play happy ‘framilies’
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2006/apr/09/uknews.theobserver


Show tunes

Find the tracks we play on the RTRFM webpage for this episode.

Transcript

[MUSIC]

DANIEL: Hello, and welcome to this episode of Talk the Talk, RTRFM’s weekly show about linguistics, the science of language. For the next hour, we’re going to be bringing you language news, lexicography, and some great music. Maybe we’ll even hear from you. My name is Daniel Midgley. I’m here with Ben Ainsley…
BEN: Good morning.
DANIEL: On this episode, we are talking about the words of the year. Which words tickled our fancy, enriched our conversations, and zeited our Geist? More words than ever have been proposed, but is there a sinister side to this lexicographic event? We’re gonna find out on this episode of Talk the Talk.

[MUSIC]

BEN: Zeited our Geist. I dig it.
DANIEL: I think I’ve used that one before.
BEN: That’s okay, we’ve done a lot of shows.
DANIEL: We certainly have. And we’re back!
BEN: We are. But we’re… lesser.
DANIEL: Because Kylie is not with us.
BEN: Do you know where she is?
DANIEL: I think she’s feeling ill.
BEN: I heard that she nearly ran over a series of matrimonial processions.
DANIEL: That was because she was distracted by an otter.
BEN: I heard that the otter itself was driving a separate vehicle, but was intentionally endangering the wedding party.
DANIEL: Ah, that was because of a vendetta that the otter had with the groom. They had a past.
BEN: Oh. Anyway, Kylie is unfortunately not here this week, which is very sad because it’s the first show of the year, but she will no doubt be back in the chair next week. In the meantime though, we have oh so many words to discuss.
DANIEL: Do you know where I’ve been?
BEN: You have been traveling. I don’t actually know where you’ve been — like when we separate as a trio, it’s like the end of a Western. The three anti-heroes sort of like drift off in their different directions.
DANIEL: Yes, well, while you guys were drifting off, I was drifting towards Salt Lake City, Utah.
BEN: Very Western-appropriate.
DANIEL: Yes, very much. That’s because that was the scene of the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America for 2018.
BEN: Pew pew pew! Party time.
DANIEL: It was pretty amazing! There were thousands of linguists there in a really nice hotel. There were chandeliers.
BEN: So many chandeliers.
DANIEL: So many chandeliers, and there were nine parallel sessions.
BEN: That’s a lot.
DANIEL: Imagine, if you will, a festival with nine stages.
BEN: It’s… oh my FOMO! I can, like, I don’t even — look, despite doing a show like this I don’t think I like linguistics enough to get excited by nine parallel sessions. But even my FOMO is getting sort of triggered by having nine different sessions.
DANIEL: Is it fo-ing your mo?
BEN: It’s… my mo is so fo-ed.
DANIEL: One of the things that was happening at this was the American Dialect Society Word of the Year vote. This is something that we report on every single year.
BEN: There is… I mean, 2017 was weird. It was a weird year, and so much weird stuff happened; weird bad, weird great, weird weird. Like, it was just it was a very extreme — it was a year of extremes.
DANIEL: well, can I just tell you that the Word of the Year season, which we sort of had a break during…
BEN: I think it’s probably good we do, right? Like we just go a bit too hard.
DANIEL: Well, the Word of the Year season lasted from like end of November till about mid January. so there’s a lot to report on here.
BEN: Okay, we’ve got a lot to do.
DANIEL: Let’s get started…
BEN: Shall we do a tour of the world?
DANIEL: Let’s do a tour of the world.
BEN: Okay.
DANIEL: We’re leaving the ADS alone for a little while.
BEN: That’s the big one. We’re gonna come back to that. Should we do, like, the dictionaries?
DANIEL: Okay. Let’s start with dictionary.com. Their word was ‘complicit’.
BEN: Oh, that’s a good one.
DANIEL: When you are complicit, you are not stopping someone from doing something bad.
BEN: It’s related to, in my opinion, like a lie of omission. A lie of omission is like when you’re not lying, but you know that you should be saying something right now.
DANIEL: You should be acting.
BEN: And you can.
DANIEL: Ivanka Trump is generally considered to be the most complicit.
BEN: Complicitest?
DANIEL: The complicitest! And there was even a Saturday Night Live sketch about that. She gave an interview where she talked about being complicit. And also Arizona Senator Jeff Flake in a speech said he was not going to be complicit, despite voting the same way that Trump does most of the time.
BEN: Mm-hmm
DANIEL: So that was a big one. Another political sort of word was the Cambridge Dictionary’s Word of the Year: Populism.
BEN: You could see why that rides in. I mean, there has been a very significant populist swing in politics the world over.
DANIEL: That’s for sure. Populism is defined as “political ideas and activities that are intended to get the support of ordinary people by giving them what they want.”
BEN: Now, but I think Cambridge’s choice brings up an interesting question. I don’t know about you — maybe they are in Cambridge — but I’m not hearing a lot of people running around busting out ‘populism’ as a word or even ‘populist’ as a word. You hear it sometimes every now and then in a political discussion over like a couple of glasses of wine at a dinner party, perhaps. But I’m not hearing populism just bandied about willy-nilly.
DANIEL: I think you’re right. I think a lot of these Words of the Year are chosen not because of their frequency, but because they seem to embody something about the times we’re living in.
BEN: Which brings up a concerning point: that at the end of the day for a lot of those sort of choices, it’s just a couple of people in a room kind of being like, “I think this thing’s cool.” Right? Like more often than not.
DANIEL: I got that feeling.
BEN: Which might be a criticism we might have to come back to in a little while.
DANIEL: Sounds good. Sometimes it’s even just one person. For example, the linguist Geoffrey Nunberg gave ‘tribal’ as his Word of the Year.
BEN: For what reason?
DANIEL: Tribalism seems to embody something about the way that we use information. We seem to have these competing ecosystems that we can just live in.
BEN: Oh, like the the information echo chambers that we all inhabit these days.
DANIEL: I don’t think that’s new. I think that that has always kind of been the case. You could always choose your newspaper or choose your church to get information from. We’ve talked about this before. I’m gonna actually contend that the way things are now is not because we’re balkanized or we’re isolated informationally. I think it’s because we actually are in contact.
BEN: Well hang on, no no no no, but you said that we’ve always kind of been doing this. So what about the contact is different? What difference is that generating? What do you mean?
DANIEL: Well, here’s the thing: if we were separate, if we were isolated, then I could have my informational narratives, you could have your informational narratives, and we wouldn’t come together. But because of social media, we’re always in contact with people who are disagreeing.
BEN: Okay, so the extent of polarization is the result of this contact.
DANIEL: I think so. I think it means that we have to embark on these ways of negating each other’s views.
BEN: It’s like the guard-hairs on a carnivorous plant, right? Like it’s only when you go up to a Venus Flytrap and give it a flick that it kind of like — shoonk — closes its jaws. And I guess that’s kind of what we’re doing as little tribal communities, right? We see someone say something extreme, and we’re like no no no no no, not cool.
DANIEL: Now sometimes we reject things because they’re just wrong, but sometimes we reject them because it’s threatening to our way of thinking.
BEN: Absolutely.
DANIEL: We gotta make sure we’re pretty self-aware and know which one we’re doing.
BEN: Not always easy. Oh, Daniel, don’t make me reflect about who I am!
DANIEL: Sorry, sorry. Let’s try something different. Let’s talk about some of the head scratchers.
BEN: Sure.
DANIEL: There were a couple of words…
BEN: A couple of noodle-bakers!
DANIEL: I was hanging out with linguists and lexicographers, and when these two ones specifically came down the pike, there was some head scratching. One of them came from the Australian National Dictionary Centre and it was ‘kwaussie’.
BEN: Quasi, as in like Q U A S I, quasi?
DANIEL: K W and then ‘aussie’. Somebody who’s a Kiwi, but also an Aussie.
BEN: Ah, from the whole citizenship thingy.
DANIEL: Yeah, in fact you had a great term for that.
BEN: Well look, I don’t mean to like buff my lapels or ride a wave of self-congratulation but ‘citizen-shipwreck’ is so much better than ‘kwaussie’.
DANIEL: That was so good.
BEN: Have you heard ‘kwaussie’ ever before?
DANIEL: No, it has virtually no track record to my way of thinking. And you came up with it on the fly. I’m so impressed!
BEN: Oh, stop it!
DANIEL: So that was one. And then the other one came from Oxford Dictionaries. It was ‘youthquake’.
BEN: Ugh.
DANIEL: You heard this one.
BEN: It’s just really dumb!
DANIEL: The word goes back to the 1960s. Apparently, they chose it because there was an election in the UK in June, and a lot of young people turned out and quashed the Conservatives. Quashed them I say!
BEN: It is as needlessly specific to the place that it comes from as ‘kwaussie’ is.
DANIEL: Hmm. Afraid so. Let’s move over to words involving women.
BEN: Ah, now: hooley dooley.
DANIEL: There was a lot going on here.
BEN: I feel like we almost missed out as a show
DANIEL: Yep.
BEN: There was so much there that we could have talked about.
DANIEL: One word that was chosen by a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Mary Schmich, and also Nancy Friedman @fritinancy. They chose ‘reckoning’.
BEN: It’s so good. I like it because it just feels… it doesn’t feel revengeful. Yeah, that’s a word. I’m going with it. But it is imbued with a kind of righteousness, isn’t it? And not false righteousness, like justified righteousness.
DANIEL: You have been found wanting. The time of evaluation is at hand.
BEN: And so many have been. Like, it really doesn’t feel like there’s a better time in history to not be a total creeper.
DANIEL: Switzerland, for their part, had ‘harcèlement’ — that is, the French-speaking part of Switzerland. That’s the word for harassment.
BEN: Okay, good, yep. Pertinent.
DANIEL: Very much. Well, this has been a whirlwind tour of what was going on in the world of Word of the Year before the American Dialect Society meeting. But we’re gonna take a little break here and then hit it hard.
BEN: All right. Let’s hear a track.
DANIEL: Let’s do Radiohead with their track ‘Reckoner’ on RTRFM 92.1. Now remember, if you have any questions or comments about anything you’re hearing on this show, please get in touch with us. That’s talkthetalk@rtrfm.com.au.
BEN: You can also give us a call: 9260 9210.
DANIEL: Our Facebook community is vibrant and dynamic, and of course Twitter @talkrtr.

[TRACK]

BEN: Welcome back to this, the first Talk the Talk of 20-great-teen.
DANIEL: Ooo… and next year, we’ll have 20-fine-teen.
BEN: It’s too early! It’s too early! What are you doing? You’re front-loading 20-fine-teen?
DANIEL: I knew I would forget by then.
BEN: Just stop. We’ve got a whole year of 20-great-teen to get through!
DANIEL: You’ve got to go with these while you’re thinking about it!
BEN: 20-fine-teen after 20-great-teen; I’ll allow it. Look, it’s Ben and Daniel in the studio with you yet again. Kylie — I mean, tragically is not here. Do you know why?
DANIEL: I believe she was levitating and got intercepted by a hot-air balloon.
BEN: Really? I heard that she was sent on a contract murder job in Bogota but fell in love with a swarthy Arabian man who was there to kill the same person as her.
DANIEL: Ah, he failed to recognize her because she had dyed her hair blonde…
BEN: …from the hot air balloon accident. I see, I see, I see.
DANIEL: Yes, exactly.
BEN: Well, one way or another, obviously that relationship, though tremendously powerful, is destined for failure, and Kylie will be back here next week.
DANIEL: Yes, indeed.
BEN: But we’ve got so so many words to get through, because Daniel has been gallivanting around the world…
DANIEL: Gallivanting.
BEN: …just valiantly ganting all around the world. He’s been at the LDS… the Linguistic Dialect Society?
DANIEL: It’s the LSA. The Linguistic Society of America. [LAUGHTER]
BEN: Not the Latter-day Saints? Whoops… the Linguistic Society of America meet up? catch up?
DANIEL: Shindig. And as part of that, they had the American Dialect Society Word of the Year vote.
BEN: So many, many words. Like, how does it even work?
DANIEL: Okay, so what happens is they have two sessions. One was the nomination, where linguists, lexicographers, and even people on the street could cram into a room that was way too small, and they could suggest things in any of numerous categories, like “Most Useful” or “WTF Word” or “Political Word of the Year”. “Digital Word of the Year”.
BEN: Okay, and so that was just the nomination round. And then it went to voting.
DANIEL: And then the next night, they collected all of those that got nominated, and went to the vote.
BEN: Mmm
DANIEL: I gotta say, the Word of the Year vote is not universally beloved by everybody.
BEN: I think I know why that might be.
DANIEL: Yes.
BEN: Because it’s a little bit culturally appropriat-ey.
DANIEL: We did talk about this with Nicole Holliday last year, didn’t we?
BEN: Yeah, and I think this might be an opportunity for us to cop to some of this a little bit ourselves. I mean, as a show we kind of to a large degree do a bunch of this, which is basically, “Well, look at this cool thing I found!”
DANIEL: Oh, look at this amusing thing which some people made up and now we’re gonna take it.
BEN: And so the example that I’ll go to for this one is “shade”.
DANIEL: Mmm.
BEN: “Throwing shade.” We — being two white dudes, and Kylie, a white lady — just kind of were like: “Oh, man, check this cool word out. It’s like ‘throwing shade’! It comes from the queer community! It’s pretty cool! Like it’s great!” And end of bit, basically, right? And it was very much a bit. And I think the Word of the Year is a little bit the same, where we’re kind of like, “Wow, this is cool!” but not at any point necessarily acknowledging or honouring the huge significant back history of any given word.
DANIEL: And Dr Holliday, in our show last year, made a really interesting point, and that was that these words been used by (for example) the black community for decades. But when do they suddenly become part of the Word of the Year thing? Oh, when they become accepted into the “wider society”. Oh, what’s that mean?
BEN: So it’s when their notoriety rises and it would appear that certain people noticing things — i.e. white people — counts for rather a lot more.
DANIEL: Matters more. How about that; why would that be? It’s sometimes described as linguistic tourism.
BEN: Are these sorts of conversations going on in the collective of people who were putting together this list?
DANIEL: Very much so.
BEN: Okay.
DANIEL: And in fact, I got the chance to have a bit of an interview with Grant Barrett. He’s the co-host of the podcast “A Way With Words”, which you should check out. He’s also the Vice President of the American Dialect Society. And usually it’s Ben Zimmer who does the Word of the Year vote. Ben and a lot of other people couldn’t make it because of the “bomb cyclone” —
BEN: Ah, yes.
DANIEL: The weather event that was happening. So he [Grant] along with Jane Solomon from dictionary.com took the voting. I got the chance to talk to Grant and ask him about this.
DANIEL (to GRANT BARRETT): Now I want to have this discussion with you, because it’s a discussion that happens over and over again…
GRANT: Yeah.
DANIEL: …and it’s a good discussion, and it needs to happen. There’s a good deal of columbusing with the Word of the Year vote and it’s probably unavoidable. The idea of… you know, like, with columbusing, you find something that’s now to you, and you claim that you discovered it…
GRANT: It’s mine!
DANIEL: Yeah, and a lot of the vocabulary that we have, a lot of the breaking vocabulary, a lot of trendy vocabulary comes from the Black American community. And the problem here is that we…
GRANT: …as white dudes…
DANIEL: …say, “I just found a new and breaking word,” when actually this word has been in use with the Black community for decades. But suddenly when guys who look like us discover it…
GRANT: Yeah.
DANIEL: Well, then, suddenly it’s new, right?
GRANT: Well, we don’t call it “new”. The criteria for Word of the Year isn’t that it’s new, but it’s newly peaked or newly popular so…
DANIEL: Yeah.
GRANT: But that aside, the general critique is a fair one. But there’s two mitigating things here, and I’ve actually had several conversations about this exact thing with African-American linguists in the last two days.
DANIEL: Okay, good.
GRANT: They’re just working through what this means, and what the complications are, and if there’s ways to remedy it in the Word of the Year vote. And there’s two mitigating factors. One is: that’s how dictionaries are made. Dictionaries don’t do representational lexicography, where they hire African-American lexicographers only for the African-American words. If a word is in the citation files and there’s enough evidence, then it goes into the hopper and it becomes a part of the dictionary.
DANIEL: No matter where it comes from.
GRANT: No matter where it comes from. So you don’t have to be a physics expert to write a definition for a physics term. You don’t have to be African-American to write a definition for an African-American term, so. And this other mitigating part of that is the Word of the Year vote is primarily a lexicographical event; it isn’t really a linguistic event.
DANIEL: Okay.
GRANT: So Ben and I both are former lexicographers, and most of the previous people who’ve done the… led the Word of the Year vote have been lexicographers as well. And the Word of the Year vote is this kind of initial treatment of the word. It’s glib, and I think that’s a lot of the problem with it, is that we can’t take it seriously ’cause we don’t have enough information yet. But in the coming year, and the next four issues of the Journal of American Speech in the ‘Among the New Words’ section of that journal, Ben Zimmer and Jane Solomon and Charles Carson will do a full professional digging into these terms. They will give the history, they will tell what community it belongs to, they’ll talk about how the transition — if it’s there — they’ll talk about the transition into the larger body of English, and it will be fully laid out in a way that is not columbusing at all. There’s like full credit due where full credit is owed.
DANIEL: That sounds good.
GRANT: Yeah.
DANIEL: And also more input from speakers of African-American English?
GRANT: Yeah, well, one of the problems is that the Linguistic Society of America as a whole, and the American Dialect Society — so the vote is actually officially run by the American Dialect Society, but it’s within the Linguistic Society of America conference — they’re both very white. And this is a problem that the leaders of both organizations haven’t successfully addressed over the years that they’ve known it’s a problem. There are new initiatives underway to try to make sure that we — there should be linguists, we know this is true — linguists of color have a different outlook on language than linguists who are part of the mainstream White culture.
DANIEL: That’s inevitable.
GRANT: Inevitable, and if you don’t have them, then you’re doing the field as a whole a disservice. There is information that is not being gathered and not being studied, because we don’t have people who have like the native speaker’s voice in that dialect, or in that particular way. We don’t have — as far as I know, there are no Native Americans who represent as Native Americans in the American Dialect Society.
DANIEL: Okay.
GRANT: Right? How could we not have any? Right? But we’re working on it and so we have some new initiatives underway. We’ll see how it goes, it’s a slow moving boat, it’s — I often say, it’s like a steering wheel stuck into an iceberg. It’s just really hard to steer.
DANIEL: Yeah, okay. Look, I’m encouraged.
GRANT: Yeah, yeah, well, that’s the thing is like, my goal as somebody who’s been involved with the Word of the Year in a variety of ways over about 20 years is to find new people who are nothing like me who will take over the work that I do.
DANIEL: Okay.
GRANT: And then they will bring up the new generation of people to do all those tasks as well, so I will hand that off as soon as I can to somebody who is very unlike me, and can represent voices that I don’t have, and can’t possibly know.
DANIEL (to BEN): That’s Grant Barrett, Vice President of the American Dialect Society and co-host of the podcast ‘A Way With Words’.
BEN: That all sounded great to me…
DANIEL: Mmm.
BEN: …but it would because I’ve spent five years of my life doing a show where we kind of glibly talk about words a whole bunch.
DANIEL: Mhm. I’m just glad that these discussions are happening.
BEN: Well, yes. A step above terrible, isn’t it.
DANIEL: Yeah.
BEN: Like, we can categorically say it’s not as bad as it could be.
DANIEL: But not fixed.
BEN: No.
DANIEL: Okay.
BEN: And acknowledged not to be fixed.
DANIEL: Okay. That is only part of the interview with Grant Barrett. If you want to hear the whole thing, you can hear that on our Patreon page.
BEN: He sounds very eloquent. But also very cazh.
DANIEL: He’s fun. His show’s really good.
BEN: Shall we take a track?
DANIEL: Yes, please. Let’s listen to Tourist Kid with ‘Under Armour Suite’ on RTRFM 92.1.

[TRACK]

BEN: If you’re just tuning in, it is the first Talk the Talk of 20-great-teen, and we are yummying down on all kinds of delicious words of the year that have been and gone since we’ve taken a break. It’s just me and Daniel. Kylie’s not here — do you know where she is?
DANIEL: Kylie’s job at the turntable factory — she got caught in a centrifuge.
BEN: Ah, that would explain why, when I saw her, all of the blood had drained to, like, her back and the backs of her legs and everything, and because of that, she had caused a series of traffic accidents as people assumed she was, like, a red stop sign when she was facing away from oncoming traffic. So sad. But I’m told that the blood will eventually congeal and spread back throughout the rest of her body, so she should be here next week.
DANIEL: I told them to reverse it. I don’t know if they did or not.
BEN: Oh, smart, smart, smart. Well, genius is never appreciated in its own generation, Daniel.
DANIEL: Never.
BEN: Look, we’ve got lots of words to get through, so it’s time for the proper list.
DANIEL: This is the list from the American Dialect Society Word of the Year 2017 vote. Let’s start with the first category: Emoji of the Year. A new one! So did they like goat (🐐) the goat emoji?
BEN: Why like the goat emoji?
DANIEL: It stands for “greatest of all time”.
BEN: Oh.
DANIEL: There was also the peach (🍑) but with an IM in front of it, as in “impeach”. There was the thinking face (🤔). I’ve got to say…
BEN: I like thinking face.
DANIEL: The thinking face. I’ve gotten so much use out of thinking face.
BEN: It’s like a very polite way to say “I don’t know what the flip you’re talking about.”
DANIEL: Is it like the new “um”? Like when you disagree with someone?
BEN: Yeah, but even less passive-aggressive, because it really does come across this just kind of like “I’m trying to puzzle out your meaning.”
DANIEL: That’s interesting. I have never used it that way.
BEN: Definitely.
DANIEL: I’ve used this as a timing thing. Like I’ll put it up front: “I’m thinking about this here” and then what I’m trying to say is I’m feeling my way along here.
BEN: Interesting, yeah. I like it a lot.
DANIEL: Yeah. But the winner: woman with head scarf or hijab (🧕).
BEN: Ah.
DANIEL: That got the most votes from lexicographers, linguists, and anybody who wanted to attend.
BEN: Now, is that recently added to the emojipedia?
DANIEL: Yes, that one and the thinking face: brand new this year.
BEN: Ah, cool, cool, cool.
DANIEL: Okay, next one. Hashtag of the Year.
BEN: Hmm! I wonder what could possibly take this category out!
DANIEL: Me too! Oh…
BEN: Zing, zing, zing.
DANIEL: I gave it away.
BEN: But what was in contention? Let’s find out.
DANIEL: The other ones: #NeverthelessShePersisted
BEN: Too long. It’s great, but it’s too long.
DANIEL: I love it though, because this is what the Senate head Mitch McConnell said about Elizabeth Warren during a debate. She took too long, she was told to stop. “Nevertheless, she persisted.” And everyone said, “Right, I’m using that.”
BEN: [GUN SOUND] Pchoo choo.
DANIEL: The other one was “resist” — #resist, and I think that was a good one too.
BEN: What was that? Just a general sort of, just like, “Keep doing it”?
DANIEL: A general sort of anti-Trump resistance.
BEN: Gotcha.
DANIEL: #resist.
BEN: But of course.
DANIEL: #metoo. It’s huge.
BEN: I personally have never seen, like, a clicktivist thing carry so so much emotional weight. It was just bananas. I basically had my opinion turned around about the power of social media, because I had more or less just resigned it to the garbage bin of noisy pointlessness for the most part. I saw so few examples of any kind of change happening. Like the tribalism we were talking before, all I could see was spiky people just prodding each other with pikes all of the time, and it just it wearied me. And #metoo just like smashed through that.
DANIEL: Oh, this is happening.
BEN: Yeah.
DANIEL: You just sort of stood in awe, and said, “Cheese it, there’s a lot of these stories here.”
BEN: Mm-hmm, so yes, I totally understand why #metoo won.
DANIEL: Euphemism of the year!
BEN: Euphemism of the year.
DANIEL: One was “avocado toast”.
BEN: Ha! LOL.
DANIEL: “A minor indulgence for which people unfairly judge others, especially millennials.” I think it’s interesting how the avocado toast thing jumped from continent to continent in the English-speaking world.
BEN: I didn’t know that it did! I thought that was just an Australian thing.
DANIEL: You saw it pop up in Australia, but then somebody in America did the same thing.
BEN: Right.
DANIEL: A lawmaker or something, judging millennials for, you know, enjoying things because apparently you’re only supposed to enjoy things if you’re older and well-off.
BEN: Right. A good Methodist work ethic: “Are you having fun? Then you’re not working hard enough.”
DANIEL: One of my favorites: “problematic”.
BEN: Mmm. This is interesting, because I read what that would the sort of the description they laid out in the form, which you can read now for me.
DANIEL: “An understated way to say something is very wrong or unacceptably politically incorrect.” I just think when I hear, you know, “problematic”, I just think someone has said something horribly racist sexist or otherwise.
BEN: I don’t necessarily go to that extent. I do think that it gets used in that context all the time, but I was having a discussion with someone the other day where they kind of looked at me and they said “Well, I find that statement somewhat problematic,” and I was like “You can just call it bad.” Like…
DANIEL: It’s okay!
BEN: “But no, no, no, I didn’t use the word ‘bad’.” I’m like, “Your sentence makes perfect sense if we change the word ‘problematic’ to ‘bad’. You’re talking about a bad thing.” It’s just a polite lefty way of saying bad.
DANIEL: That’s a bit bad.
BEN: It is a polite mild way for things that perhaps we should actually be getting angry about.
DANIEL: Well, it is a candidate for Euphemism of the Year.
BEN: Okay.
DANIEL: But the winner was “alternative facts”.
BEN: Ugh.
DANIEL: Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s surrogate — and I love this one, because you could just see her brain saying “Don’t say that, don’t say that”, but she did. “He was given some facts, and then the person on my team gave… alternative facts… to that.”
BEN: No!
DANIEL: People pounced on it, and I love it.
BEN: Alternative facts… Do you mean… lies?
DANIEL: You could tell that she meant to say something like “opposing facts” or “contradictory facts”, but “alternative facts” it is.
BEN: It’s very rare that the following sentence is gonna come out of my mouth: You gotta feel a little bit bad for the people in the Trump camp, like to be to be so constantly needing to justify sheer insanity. Like, of course your brain is gonna break! Like, how could it not?
DANIEL: But you never saw Kellyanne Conway on television again after that.
BEN: It’s true.
DANIEL: That was Euphemism of the Year: alternative facts. Next one: Most Creative! Here we go.
BEN: Mmmm.
DANIEL: “Askhole”.
BEN: I love this one.
DANIEL: What is an askhole, Ben?
BEN: Aw, it’s just apparently someone who still hasn’t discovered what Google is.
DANIEL: Mmm.
BEN: I just… I got no time for people who don’t want to learn things, and I’m a teacher, right? Like, my actual day-to-day job is teaching people, many of whom don’t necessarily want to learn the things I want to teach them.
DANIEL: Maybe not.
BEN: Then when like big adult humans come and like “Bla-bla-bla-bla.” Oh, it’s this thing. “Bla-bla-bla-bla.” It’s… it’s the natural logical follow-on from the previous thing I said. “Bla-bla-de-bla-bla.” It’s… all of this is very findable information! Why are you bothering me?
DANIEL: The winner: broflake! Which was one of ours.
BEN: [LAUGHTER] I mean, take your group of power of choice, and put “fragility” after it.
DANIEL: Right, yeah.
BEN: White fragility.
DANIEL: Mmm.
BEN: Male fragility, whatever you like… this is what broflake is, basically.
DANIEL: Yeah, it’s somebody who calls out somebody for being a snowflake, but they’re incredibly fragile themselves.
BEN: Yeah.
DANIEL: The one that didn’t win in this category of Most Creative, though, was one that I feel really got a bad deal, because it wasn’t well known.
BEN: Hmm.
DANIEL: And maybe people listening haven’t heard it. It is “milkshake duck”. Are you aware of milkshake duck?
BEN: It took me… it actually… I saw it about for a while and I didn’t get it and so I just kind of let it go, thinking that it would either rise in prominence to the point where I understood it, or die. And it just… it just ever so barely got to the rising point. Like, it just nibbed prominence, and then fell away a little bit. But it’s basically the idea that it’s when something that was previously beloved by people — especially by the Left — gets dumped into the pool of like, “Oh, wait, no, actually it was bad all along.”
DANIEL: So it was problematic.
BEN: Take your pick, right? Aziz Ansari, Louis C.K. — like, all of these are milkshake ducks.
DANIEL: The term comes from a tweet by @pixelatedboat. Here’s the tweet: “The whole internet loves milkshake duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! [five seconds later] We regret to inform you the duck is racist.”
BEN: See, I had always assumed it was our beloved people ducking out of the way of people throwing milkshakes at them! That’s what I interpreted.
DANIEL: That’s a valid interpretation, but no, it’s this imaginary scenario. So imagine the kid who tearfully spoke out against his bullies, right? That video that went viral, and then it turned out that the dad and possibly the mom were kind of into white supremacism. Mmm.
BEN: Gotcha, gotcha, gotcha.
DANIEL: Don’t forget, also: a milkshake duck can be a verb. “I can’t believe this person hasn’t been milkshake ducked yet.”
BEN: Yeah, nice one.
DANIEL: You know, when that came up for the vote, it was sort of like everybody said, “What is a milkshake duck?” And so, yeah, I feel like…
BEN: …it didn’t get a good shake.
[BEAT]
DANIEL: So to speak.
BEN: I didn’t even mean to do that. [LAUGHTER] Shazam! Ben Ainslie comin’ atcha!
DANIEL: Let’s just do one more before we cut to a break.
BEN: Okay.
DANIEL: Most Likely to Succeed. One was “stan”, the verb.
BEN: As in “suffix for countries”?
DANIEL: No, it’s, “Who do you stan for?”
BEN: Like the Eminem song?
DANIEL: Like the Eminem song.
BEN: [LAUGHS] Cool. Look, I got a place in my heart for him. I was 13 in 2000.
DANIEL: The other one in this category was “unicorn”: a one-of-a-kind person or a thing.
BEN: I’ve been using that for years! For years!
DANIEL: Well, if the Linguistic Society of America was less old and more polyamorous, than they would have known about it earlier.
BEN: Look, if they were more Ben Ainslie, they would have been fine with that.
DANIEL: But the winner in this category was “fake news”! And we are gonna have more to say about fake news.
BEN: Okay.
DANIEL: So let’s listen to the Mountain Goats with “Unicorn Tolerance” on RTRFM 92.1.

[TRACK]

BEN: Now we are coming back into this fourth and final bracket of Talk the Talk. We’ve been talking about the Words of the Year. So far, we have not yet come to the big granddaddy.
DANIEL: Let’s go through some more of our categories. These are words that were voted on by linguists, lexicographers, and members of the American Dialect Society — and yours truly! I was there! I was running microphones up and down the aisles.
BEN: He did it!
DANIEL: I did it! It was great! You were all alone. Aw…
DANIEL: Most Useful. We’ve talked about this one at our Doogs show: “angry react and sad react”.
BEN: Hell of a good one.
DANIEL: “-burger” as in “nothingburger”.
BEN: Yep.
DANIEL: “Millennial pink” — another one of ours.
BEN: Mm-hmm.
DANIEL: But the most useful: “die by suicide”.
BEN: As in, like, “die by cop” kind of thing? Suicide by cop, or whatever?
DANIEL: No, different. Usually what people say nowadays is “commit suicide”.
BEN: Right.
DANIEL: But there’s a little problem with the word “commit” in this context. Remember, you can know a lot about a word by the company it keeps.
BEN: Okay.
DANIEL: So let’s just take a look, shall we? at words that seem to travel with “commit”. Can you guess?
BEN: Commit murder,
DANIEL: That’s one.
BEN: Commit adultery…
DANIEL: Yes.
BEN: Commit fraud…
DANIEL: Yes.
BEN: Commit espionage… um…
DANIEL: Here are the collocations: crime, suicide, murder, sin, atrocity, perjury, violence, fraud, adultery, conspiracy.
BEN: So people are putting it out there that we need to take “commit” away from it, because every other kind of person who commits a thing commits a really really bad thing.
DANIEL: Yep, and for people whose lives have been touched by suicide… maybe we could say something else.
BEN: Okay, yeah, that seems fair.
DANIEL: Yes, committing suicide… the favoured term now is “die by suicide”.
BEN: Okay.
DANIEL: And that is Most Useful.
BEN: Die *from* suicide? Could we say that? Would that work?
DANIEL: Die from suicide?
BEN: Because it takes even, like, it introduces even a further distance, I find.
DANIEL: Prepositions are notoriously squiggly. I wouldn’t be surprised to find three candidates and then everyone settles on one in ten years.
BEN: Okay.
DANIEL: Hmm! We’re still at the beginning of this.
BEN: Indeed.
DANIEL: Next one: Slang or Informal Word.
BEN: Ooo! That is always my fave.
DANIEL: This wasn’t even gonna be on the list. This is a totally new category.
BEN: Now to be fair, though, this is probably — to use the word that I was giving a hard time to before — one of the more problematic ones, because so much of our slang we just pilfer from the minority community. So what have we got?
DANIEL: We’ve got “rip” or r.i.p. “Rip my car.”
BEN: Do you know what… this is a thing that has been huge with teens for a while now. That has been my experience. I have heard lots of kids say this.
DANIEL: How do we use this? I’m not even sure. Did I say it right?
BEN: I’ve heard like “RIP in peace” and stuff, which is like this weird meta thing going on.
DANIEL: Yeah.
BEN: But yeah, just R.I.P., rip; “thing”. Like, “rip my social standing” — not that a teenager would ever say that, but you know.
DANIEL: Here’s another one: “snatched”. “Good-looking, or attractive.”
BEN: Huh?
DANIEL: I don’t know why. In the 70s, we said “stacked”, but that’s another story.
BEN: “Snatched”, because… uh… there’s only one body part that comes to mind.
DANIEL: I know, I know, but there you go. “Shooketh.”
BEN: Shooketh?
DANIEL: Never heard this one?
BEN: Like, the earth shooketh?
DANIEL: Well, it’s a funny way of saying that you were surprised or shocked.
BEN: Can I have the word in a sentence?
DANIEL: [Hands BEN paper] Here’s a bunch. Read ’em.
BEN: Okay.
DANIEL: I’m getting this from the Now Corpus.
BEN: Okay: “News first broke that Lifetime would be releasing an Oscar Pistorius movie. South Africans were shooketh!” “Nearly a hundred people from this page went to follow that account. I’m shooketh.”
DANIEL: That’s it. Shooketh.
BEN: It’s like “shocked”. You could use the word “shocked” in all of those sentences.
DANIEL: But that funny little “eth” ending.
BEN: Shooketh.
DANIEL: A little archaism. But that wasn’t the winner. The winner was “wypipo”:
BEN: AH.
DANIEL: W Y P I P O.
BEN: Now, this is an interesting one, isn’t it, because obviously it’s super culturally appropriatey, but it’s so culturally appropriatey that I would not be willing to use it.
DANIEL: Exactly.
BEN: Because it sounds like linguistic blackface, because you’re actually emulating the exact tonality of how an African-American English speaker may say it.
DANIEL: It means “a humorous phonetic spelling of ‘white people’, used to flag white privilege, cluelessness, or absurdity.”
BEN: My brain kind of goes “This is cool, because I’m not seeing white people use it.”
DANIEL: Mmm.
BEN: Right, so it’s kind of staying within the community but…
DANIEL: …but it’s acknowledged here.
BEN: But it’s… yeah. But it’s getting notoriety, which means people of colour are using it about white people, and we’re kind of going “Fair cop.”
DANIEL: I’ll eat that.
BEN: Yeah.
DANIEL: And it’s kind of a way of saying that white privilege, white cluelessness is not okay.
BEN: Mmm.
DANIEL: And so maybe it’s in a good cause. That was the winner: Slang or Informal Word of the Year.
BEN: That’s fun.
DANIEL: Digital Word of the Year – boy, there were a ton here.
BEN: AI?
DANIEL: No.
BEN: Oh, boo.
DANIEL: Here are some of the more interesting ones: “rogue” — I suggested this one.
BEN: Oh, like “going rogue”?
DANIEL: Going rogue. Describing “someone ostensibly working in at administration who’s posting messages against it”.
BEN: Mm-hmm.
DANIEL: Bitcoin left its mark. There was “initial coin offering” and also “blockchain”.
BEN: Mm-hmm.
DANIEL: Have you heard “ratio”? Getting ratioed?
BEN: No. What?
DANIEL: My tweet is getting ratioed.
BEN: What does that mean?
DANIEL: Well, there are three things you can do with someone’s tweet. You can like it.
BEN: Mm-hmm.
DANIEL: You can retweet it.
BEN: Mm-hmm.
DANIEL: Those are both good.
BEN: Yeah.
DANIEL: You can also comment on it, which could be a good comment or a bad comment. Well, if somebody’s tweet is getting no likes or retweets but tons of comments…
BEN: Ahh…
DANIEL: It’s a bad tweet.
BEN: Gotcha!
DANIEL: So you’re getting ratioed.
BEN: Right.
DANIEL: “Digital blackface”:
BEN: Uh…
DANIEL: when a usually white person uses images of black people as a proxy for themselves on social media.
BEN: Ew, that’s super gross.
DANIEL: It can also refer to using GIFs or emojis of black people as a reaction to something. Like, nobody’s saying you should never do it, but it’s worth thinking about: if I post a reaction GIF featuring a Black person, am I somehow communicating: “Black people are so extra!” You know, are we laughing at or laughing with? I think this is worth a little bit of self-analysis. But the winner is — and this is a surprise. This one came from the floor, this one was like a last minute entry: “shitpost”. [LAUGHTER] It’s been around for a long, long time, but for some reason…
BEN: It’s as old as “flame war”.
DANIEL: Just about.
BEN: Yeah.
DANIEL: But for some reason, maybe there’s more shitposting going on these days.
BEN: Mmm-hmm.
DANIEL: Political Word of the Year: do you like, “antifa”, “persister” or “persisterhood”, or “take a knee”?
BEN: Mmm… I don’t really like “antifa” — not like as in I don’t really like the movement, but it just doesn’t seem particularly weighty to me.
DANIEL: Yep.
BEN: “Persisterhood” seems a little bit… it’s a good pun though.
DANIEL: It is very nice for “persisterhood” or even a “persister”.
BEN: It’s lovely, and I kind of want it to win, but I have a feeling “take a knee” might take it out.
DANIEL: You are exactly right: “to kneel in protest, especially during a time when others are standing.”
BEN: I gotta say, the reason I love this one so much is because it drives your countrymen wild!
DANIEL: I love it.
BEN: Oh my goodness, it’s a red rag to a bull!
DANIEL: It triggers exactly the right people.
BEN: I don’t know — look, as a not particularly patriotic person at all I just find it so fascinating when people become, like, legitimately enraged about the country and the love of the country.
DANIEL: And the symbolism.
BEN: Yes, it’s super intense.
DANIEL: And my response would be: if you think that the symbolism is more important than the protest of people dying, then there’s something really wrong with your priorities.
BEN: Because the people who took a knee no doubt got, like, a whole bunch of death threats from crazy folk, and I just can’t figure out in what universe a person wants to, like, kill a person who doesn’t stand up for a national anthem, but is happy with the healthcare system that exists in America. That trades in two currencies: money and misery and suffering! Like, it’s such a bizarre priority!
DANIEL: But now…
BEN: Yes…
DANIEL: We are to the big one.
BEN: [sings ominous theme] Dun dun DUHHHHH…!
DANIEL: The Word of the Year. Here are some that didn’t win: #MeToo.
BEN: Mm-hmm.
DANIEL: “Milkshake duck” made a second appearance.
BEN: Oh, good on it. What a nice little sort of second showing.
DANIEL: “Take a knee”, “persisterhood” and “alternate facts” all showed up again.
BEN: Oh.
DANIEL: But here are some that didn’t win, that were new: “whomst”.
BEN: Whomst?
DANIEL: Or even whom’st’ve! “A humorous variant of whom used as a sarcastic display of intelligence.”
BEN: Oh, as in, like, you’re sort of poking fun at yourself, trying to be all hoity-toity?
DANIEL: Yes.
BEN: Okay, cool, I like it.
DANIEL: There was also “pussy hat”. Which seems a little 2016 to me.
BEN: That seems very 2016 to me.
DANIEL: But the winner!
BEN: Mm?
DANIEL: “Fake news”.
BEN: Well, yeah, good. I guess, like — but also not, because it’s a thing.
DANIEL: It’s not a wonderful thing, and in fact, as I was running microphones up and down along with Lauren Gawne from Lingthusiam; that was fun, both of us, sort of handing people the mic…
BEN: Teamwork!
DANIEL: Anybody could give a speech to encourage people to vote for a thing, and Lane Greene from The Economist — he’s a journalist and a really cool guy — stood up and gave this impassioned speech about why “fake news” should be the Word of the Year.
BEN: Did you record it?
DANIEL: I didn’t record it.
BEN: Boo! What were you even there for, Daniel?!
DANIEL: I do remember it, though, and it was something like that fake news is interesting because in 2016 “fake news” meant a thing. It meant news intended to deceive. But in 2017, it had another additional meaning and that was: it became this thought-terminating cliché. A way of dismissing news that you don’t like.
BEN: It’s flash! I’ve mentioned it before — it’s the crazy electromagnetic sulfur crap that spews out the back of a fighter jet to throw off the missiles it’s just like [scrambled noise]
DANIEL: Yeah. And he mentioned this, he mentioned that it was a huge epistemic problem. But it’s also a real hazard for journalists, and this is why we should be taking it seriously.
BEN: And by the sound of it, his impassioned speech did something.
DANIEL: It was persuasive, and that did get the most votes. It’s enormously influential. Ben Zimmer, who we’ve had on the show before, mentioned that his son in primary school — his friends say “that’s fake news” on the playground.
BEN: Oh, yeah. Man, nothing survives the memification of children these days. It’s just — it’s ferocious, and it’s fast. The flip rate on memes is crazy.
DANIEL: It’s also being picked up and used by strongmen dictators around the world.
BEN: Oh good! That’s exactly what the world needs.
DANIEL: For example, in Myanmar, one of the officials said “there’s no such thing as Rohingya” — that’s the people.
BEN: No, yeah, they don’t exist.
DANIEL: “It is fake news.” Once you’ve done that, you’ve dismissed the argument without having to deal with it.
BEN: Uh, cool. Well, that’s just tremendously sad.
DANIEL: It is sad, and yet by being aware of the words which typify our time, maybe this equips us to be able to deal with it.
BEN: Hmm.
DANIEL: Hmm.
BEN: Hmm.
DANIEL: Or perhaps not.
BEN: Well, look, I think it’s gonna be 20-great-teen.
DANIEL: You’re encouraged for 20-great-teen.
BEN: Yes, because twenty-seventeen ended on #MeToo, and I was stoked with that. As in, it’s terrible obviously, but the power that was afforded to people who did not have power before that point was very encouraging, and I’m hoping that 20-great-teen just keeps that [TRAIN SOUND] oo-oo! train rolling.
DANIEL: Well, let’s hope so. I’m encouraged by your encouragement.
BEN: Well, this has been a great start to the year I think.
DANIEL: Thank you very much for being a part of it. I enjoyed talking about these words, I enjoyed being at the ADS Word of the Year vote, and I’m very grateful to the LSA — the Linguistic Society of America — for allowing me to attend.
BEN: Now I’m assuming that, while you were over there, you got a whole swagload of awesome interviews that we will have peppered out through the rest of our shows throughout this year.
DANIEL: I certainly did. I’ve talked to some of the greatest minds in linguistics, and we’re gonna be having their audio interviews.
BEN: If you want to hear these full unabridged delicious meaty interviews with some of the biggest minds in linguistics, then head to our Patreon page where you can access the full and tasty missives.
DANIEL: And we want to hear from you. Why don’t you get on our Facebook page, or Twitter @talkrtr.
BEN: You can always give us a ring: 9260 9210.
DANIEL: Or send us email: talkthetalk@rtrfm.com.au. But for now, let’s listen to Boat Show with “Fake It Till You Make It” on RTRFM 92.1.

[TRACK]

DANIEL: Rick phoned in and gave us a possible Word of the Year contender for this year, 20-great-teen — and it describes a banana smoothie with a shot of coffee. Okay, now you’ve gotten my attention, Rick! Let’s see what you’re gonna call this thing. Well, he settled on kind of a portmanteau. The word is “cofana”. A portmanteau of “coffee” and “banana”. Okay, that is I would say pretty interesting. Although there is one thing that I have noticed about the kinds of words that survive for Word of the Year. They never seem to be portmanteaus. A portmanteau word, of course, is where you take, you know, a combination, a blended word, like the coffee and banana, you get cofana. Those words just don’t ever seem to survive. The ones that seem to survive the most are the ones that are an extra sense of an existing word. Like “tweet”. Would you believe that that was, a long long time ago, one of the words that was a Digital Word of the Year. And also, whenever you have compounds like “procrastination nanny”, which was in the WTF category or “milkshake duck”. I’ve really got high hopes for “milkshake duck”. I hope that this doesn’t go away. I hope that the milkshake duck has a bit of life left.

DANIEL: Robin on Facebook said “Oh, thank goodness, not a sign of ‘kwaussie’, not a sign of ‘framily’.” Yes, it’s true, the ADS ignored “kwaussie”. I guess that’s because it describes a uniquely Australian political situation, right? And this was the American Dialect Society. So yeah, it is a little bit American-heavy, unapologetically. However: “framily”. That was a new one. I can probably guess what that one means, as well. So, combination of “friends” and “family”. A lot of us have great families, and a lot of us have families that we are distant from, and so what we tend to do is we tend to assemble a community of like-minded people, and they become our framily. So I decided to do a little bit of work here looking into it, and it appears that framily comes back to 2006. It was originally suggested by a study commissioned by the UK food manufacturer Dolmio. And so “framily” is sort of like friends that become your family. So we’ll see if that one survives. Thanks, Robin!

DANIEL: Kylie — she isn’t here in the room with me, but she did however tweet from her seat on the International Space Station. Which I have no idea how she got up there. It appears that… I think she won something on eBay and the shipping conditions weren’t exactly clear. So there she is. She mentioned a pointless Twitter battle between two people but one person mentioned “youthy”. I like “youthy” because it reminds me of “truthy”, as in “truthiness”, Maybe this -y suffix is continuing its journey, meaning something ersatz, something that’s meant to seem like something else but actually isn’t. So we’ll see if “youthy” comes around. I found examples in the Now Corpus for it from 2011. I haven’t got much time to dig back, but maybe we can try that later on. I’ll add that to the list.

DANIEL: Look, big thanks to Grant Barrett for his interview. Remember to check the rest of that out on Patreon. Thanks to Tess, who’s going to be taking us Out to Lunch pretty soon. Thanks to Ben and Kylie, and of course thanks to you for listening. Be sure to check us out on Facebook and Patreon. That’s it for this episode, but until next time, keep talking.

[OUTRO

BEN: This has been an RTRFM podcast. RTRFM is an independent community radio station that relies on listeners for financial support. You can subscribe online at rtrfm.com.au/subscribe.
KYLIE: Our theme song is by Ah Trees, and you can check out their music on ahtrees.com, and everywhere good music is sold.
DANIEL: We’re on Twitter @talkrtr, send us an email: talkthetalk@rtrfm.com.au, and if you’d like to get lots of extra linguistic goodies, then like us on Facebook or check out our Patreon page. You can always find out whatever we’re up to by heading to talkthetalkpodcast.com

BEN: I heard that she looked into the eyes of a pelican, and then became a pelican.
DANIEL: That meshes with what I heard, because she has developed a taste for fish recently, and in fact she was missing for a few days because she was swimming out to Rottnest to catch her own.
BEN: I heard that whilst fumigating a house for cockroaches, the King of the Cockroaches actually approached her and said, “Hang on, let us treatsy in the land of my people.” And now she’s away somewhere, and we don’t know where.
DANIEL: Oh, I heard that, and I also heard that she was actually working on a book about this, and she was interviewing the King of the Cockroaches, and they’re working on a Fringe show.
BEN: I heard she adopted one too many cats, and created a dense black hole of cathood which she was tragically sucked into.
DANIEL: That one I do believe.
BEN: Yeah. [LAUGHTER]

Interview with VSauce! Brain Candy tour

Michael Stevens is the creator of Vsauce, a YouTube channel originally focusing on games and moved to science education – a series that now has over 18 million subscribers and 1.2 billion views after 10 years. His videos blend philosophy, maths and science and he’s now touring with Mythbuster Adam Savage for Brain Candy Live, which premieres in Perth on the 22nd January after a successful US tour.

Talk the Talk spoke to Michael about science communication, how to interact with critics and what it’s like doing a big science tour.

Listen here:

Episode 311: Quick Shots 2: The Quickening

This week, we’re looking back at the year that was.

What were our favourite shows? What does it mean if someone ‘deserves a pineapple’? And what will be the Word of the Week of the Year?

Daniel and Kylie are live in the studio for this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Show notes

Seven seriously silly Swedish sayings
https://www.thelocal.se/20151125/seven-seriously-silly-swedish-sayings

Language Log: Woo
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=35523

Holly tries it out
https://www.facebook.com/rtrfmtalkthetalk/posts/1985897721437010?comment_id=1987017591325023&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R%22%7D

Victoria boy’s new word, ‘levidrome,’ on its way to Oxford Dictionary
http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/victoria-boy-s-new-word-levidrome-on-its-way-to-oxford-dictionary-1.23102948

Oxford Dictionaries sends video message to B.C. boy who invented ‘levidrome’
http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/oxford-dictionaries-sends-video-message-to-b-c-boy-who-invented-levidrome-1.3692996

ABC hosts lose it over Bob Katter’s bizarre marriage rant
http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/current-affairs/abc-hosts-lose-it-over-bob-katters-bizarre-marriage-rant/news-story/ab0840f6d8f7a6c41bf1ff12ba4f9a5f

What’s the meaning of the phrase ‘Let one thousand flowers bloom’?
https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/226950.html

Fake news is ‘very real’ word of the year for 2017
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/nov/02/fake-news-is-very-real-word-of-the-year-for-2017

Our 2017 Word of the Year Is Complicit.
http://www.dictionary.com/e/word-of-the-year-2017/

Ivanka Trump interview: “If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good … then I’m complicit”
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ivanka-trump-interview-what-it-means-to-be-complicit/

The final count


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Episode 310: Sign Language Gloves (featuring Adam Schembri and William Bowe)

The sign language glove is an idea whose time has come! Or has it?

Could this tech tool be helpful for Deaf people? Or it is just so much hand-waving? Not everyone in the world of singed language is wild about this invention. But why not?

We’ll find out on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Become a Patreon supporter yourself and get access to bonus audio and video, extra blog posts, Talk the Talk merch, our infamous Cutting Room Floor posts, and more!

Show notes

One of world’s most prominent Scrabble players banned temporarily for cheating
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/11/14/one-of-worlds-most-prominent-scrabble-players-banned-temporarily-cheating/

U.S. toymaker Hasbro makes new approach to buy Mattel: source
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mattel-m-a-hasbro/u-s-toymaker-hasbro-makes-new-approach-to-buy-mattel-source-idUSKBN1DA2WV

Achcha! Indian English in Oxford Dictionaries
https://blog.oxfohttps://twitter.com/OxfordWords/status/930752254730149888rddictionaries.com/2017/10/05/indian-english-oxford-dictionaries/

Hindi Word of the Year 2017
https://hi.oxforddictionaries.com/hindi-word-of-the-year

Oxford Introduces First-Ever Hindi Word of the Year
https://www.thequint.com/news/education/oxford-introduces-hindi-word-of-the-year

70 Indian Words Make It To Oxford Dictionary This Year. Here’s A Comprehensive List
https://www.scoopwhoop.com/as-70-indian-words-make-it-to-oxford-dictionary-heres-how-it-chooses-its-words/#.46gqt9h15

Automatic sign language translators turn signing into text
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2133451-automatic-sign-language-translators-turn-signing-into-text/

Why Sign-Language Gloves Don’t Help Deaf People
https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/11/why-sign-language-gloves-dont-help-deaf-people/545441/

Same-sex marriage survey: 61.6 yes, 38.4 no
https://www.pollbludger.net/2017/11/15/sex-marriage-survey-61-6-yes-38-4-no/


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Episode 309: How Linguistic Is Neuro-linguistic Programming?

Just how linguistic is neuro-linguistic programming, or NLP?

Some people think it can help you win friends and influence people. And a lot of people are making a lot of money from it. But what about its language claims?

Daniel and Kylie are taking a skeptical look on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Show notes

Canada decides the F-word is not taboo for radio listeners’ ears
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/nov/09/baise-moi-canada-decides-that-the-french-f-word-is-not-taboo-for-listeners-ears

Written Inuktitut to be standardized across Canada
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/written-inuktitut-standardized-1.4391689

Macrolanguage vs. Dialect
http://www.personal.psu.edu/ejp10/blogs/thinking/2008/04/macrolanguage-vs-dialect.html

Omniglot: Inuktitut (ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ)
https://www.omniglot.com/writing/inuktitut.htm

About Inuktitut
http://www.tusaalanga.ca/book/export/html/2203

Kenn Harper: Inuit Writing Systems in Nunavut: Issues and Challenges (PDF)
http://ipssas.ku.dk/publications/publindex2003/08_Harper.pdf

Skeptic’s Dictionary: neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)
http://skepdic.com/neurolin.html

Skeptoid: NLP: Neuro-linguistic Programming
https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4155

The truth about lying: it’s the hands that betray you, not the eyes
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/the-truth-about-lying-its-the-hands-that-betray-you-not-the-eyes-7936522.html

When people think they move their eyes
https://nlp-now.co.uk/nlp-eye-movement-clues/

NLP Mirroring and Matching Techniques
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/nlp-mirroring-matching-techniques-dr-lisa-christiansen/

NLP Technique: Mirroring
http://www.nlp-secrets.com/nlp-technique-mirroring.php

The Chameleon Effect as Social Glue: Evidence for the Evolutionary Significance of Nonconscious Mimicry
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FA%3A1025389814290?LI=true

Chartrand and Bargh (1999): The Chameleon Effect: The Perception-Behavior Link and Social Interaction (PDF)
https://faculty.fuqua.duke.edu/~tlc10/bio/TLC_articles/1999/Chartrand_Bargh_1999.pdf

Covert Hypnotic Seduction and NLP Language Examples
http://www.thenlpcompany.com/hypnotic-seduction/

NLP “discredited”
Google Books link

The Truth About the NLP Wikipedia Page
https://inlpcenter.org/nlp-wikipedia-page/

Asked “What Race Is Islam?” Lawmaker Replies, “What Race Is Dickhead?”
http://www.newsweek.com/racist-white-supremacist-australia-politician-calls-dickhead-708570

“What Race Is Islam?” Racist Asks. “What Race Is Dickhead?” Australian Lawmaker Replies.
https://theintercept.com/2017/11/09/race-islam-racist-asks-race-dickhead-australian-lawmaker-replies/

Christmas creep
http://www.macmillandictionary.com/buzzword/entries/Christmas-creep.html

Wedge: A Bucket Full Of Miracles
Google Books link

Matt’s photo


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Episode 308: Pet Translator

Just how feasible is a pet translator?

A report from a futurologist is claiming that we’re only ten years away from having deep and meaningfuls with our puppers and kittehs. But there might be some technical hurdles — including the possibility that there’s nothing going on to translate.

Daniel, Kylie, and Ben think it over on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Jerry

Anthony
Christopher

Beks
Chris
Christian
Damien
Erica
Erin
Kailyn
Kerstin of the Creative Language Learning Podcast
Mathias
Oleksandr
Sam

Abraham
Christy
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kat
Matt
Whitney
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Show notes

Court rules request for ‘lawyer dog’ too ‘ambiguous’
http://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/357817-court-rules-request-for-lawyer-dog-too-ambiguous

How the English language has evolved like a living creature
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/11/how-english-language-has-evolved-living-creature

Resistance to changes in grammar is futile, say researchers
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/nov/01/resistance-to-changes-in-grammar-is-futile-say-researchers

Hear, boy? Pet translators will be on sale soon, Amazon says
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jul/22/hear-boy-pet-translators-will-be-on-sale-soon-amazon-says

The Catterbox collar will translate your cat’s meows into human speech
https://www.indy100.com/article/the-catterbox-collar-will-translate-your-cats-meows-into-human-speech–bkxNx34yZMb

Scientists Document Wild Birds ‘Talking’ With Humans For The First Time
http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-document-wild-birds-communicating-with-african-tribespeople-to-help-them-find-honey

Elephant translator turns human language into pachyderm-talk
https://www.cnet.com/au/news/elephant-translator-hello-in-elephant-david-sheldrick-wildlife-trust/

Heinz pits tomato sauce against ketchup in a new challenge
https://mumbrella.com.au/heinz-pits-sauce-ketchup-new-challenge-471214

What’s the Difference Between Ketchup and Catsup?
http://mentalfloss.com/article/29649/whats-difference-between-ketchup-and-catsup

Condiment shake-up as Heinz plays ketchup
http://www.news.com.au/finance/condiment-shake-up-as-heinz-plays-ketchup/news-story/a24532be3e963785de90eca5755e0d45


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Episode 307: Sexy Neural Net (featuring Janelle Shane)

Are you stuck for what to go as for Halloween? AI to the rescue!

A computer scientist is using neural networks to invent Halloween costumes. Do you think you could pull off Punk Tree? Or perhaps Lady Garbage is more your style. So what are neural nets, and what is this deep learning that everyone is talking about? And what other names could AIs invent?

We’re talking with the creator Janelle Shane on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Anthony
Christopher

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Sam

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Whitney
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Show notes

Kazakhstan to change from Cyrillic to Latin alphabet
http://www.dw.com/en/kazakhstan-to-change-from-cyrillic-to-latin-alphabet/a-41147396

Switchover to Latin-based script crucial for Kazakhstan – linguists
http://www.inform.kz/en/switchover-to-latin-based-script-crucial-for-kazakhstan-linguists_a3079380

Nazarbaev Signs Decree On Kazakh Language Switch To Latin-Based Alphabet
https://www.rferl.org/a/nazarbaev-signs-language-decree-latin-cyrillic/28819174.html

A neural network designs Halloween costumes
http://aiweirdness.com/post/166814009412/a-neural-network-designs-halloween-costumes

GitHub: halloween-costume-dataset/costumes
https://github.com/janelleshane/halloween-costume-dataset/blob/master/costumes

Deep learning and neural networks
https://theconversation.com/deep-learning-and-neural-networks-77259

An AI invented a bunch of new paint colors that are hilariously wrong
https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/05/an-ai-invented-a-bunch-of-new-paint-colors-that-are-hilariously-wrong/

Daddy’s Car

AI Makes Pop Music
http://www.flow-machines.com/ai-makes-pop-music/

Dual citizenship: Which politicians still have questions to answer in this constitutional mess?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-19/whos-next-in-the-dual-citizenship-mess/8819510

Malcolm Turnbull needs to admit he got MP citizenship crisis spectacularly wrong
http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-editorial/malcolm-turnbull-needs-to-admit-he-got-mp-citizenship-crisis-spectacularly-wrong-20171029-gzaegv.html

Online Etymology Dictionary: bombshell
https://www.etymonline.com/word/bombshell

The Grammarphobia Blog: Bombshells, blonde & otherwise
https://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2016/06/bombshell.html

Online Etymology Dictionary: debacle
https://www.etymonline.com/word/debacle

Octopuses are slithering out of the water onto beaches in Wales, and locals say they have ‘never seen anything like it’
https://www.businessinsider.com.au/curled-horned-octopus-coming-ashore-wales-2017-10


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Episode 306: Deception Detection (featuring Victoria Rubin, Sarah Cornwell, and Sophie Richard)

Sometimes it can be hard to tell the real news from the fake news.

But language researchers are building tools that can detect deception online. And they’re working on detecting satire. Can their system spot the fakes better than you can?

Daniel, Ben, and Kylie are getting real on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Jerry

Anthony
Christopher

Beks
Chris
Christian
Damien
Erica
Erin
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Kerstin of the Creative Language Learning Podcast
Mathias
Oleksandr
Sam

Abraham
Christy
Iain
kat
Matt
Whitney
and the podcast Lingthusiasm.

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Show notes

The Lie Detector
https://slideblast.com/the-lie-detector-explorations-in-the-automatic-recognition-of-_5979de8d1723dda5619e8cf1.html

Gender neutral version of French sparks backlash
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/gender-neutral-version-french-language-backlash-gibberish-a7987896.html

Separating fact from fiction using a ‘fake news’ algorithm
https://phys.org/news/2017-02-fact-fiction-fake-news-algorithm.html

Rubin: On Deception and Deception Detection: Content Analysis of Computer-Mediated Stated Beliefs (PDF, paywall)
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1002/meet.14504701124/asset/14504701124_ftp.pdf

Satire Detector
http://satiredetector.fims.uwo.ca/cgi-bin/pipeline.cgi

Literally Unbelievable
http://literallyunbelievable.org

Apple Unveils Sleek New Tax Haven
http://www.theshovel.com.au/2015/04/09/apple-unveils-sleek-new-tax-haven/

Rubin et al.: Fake News or Truth? Using Satirical Cues to Detect Potentially Misleading News (PDF)
http://www.aclweb.org/anthology/W16-0802

What is the #MeToo campaign?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-16/what-is-the-metoo-campaign/9055926

After More Than 500K Women Tweeted #MeToo, Men Are Responding With 4 Words
https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/how-i-will-change-men-sexual-assault/

I’m Ready to Say ‘Me Too’—Now Men Need to Say ‘I’m Sorry’
https://www.glamour.com/story/im-ready-to-say-me-too-now-men-need-to-say-im-sorry

An activist, a little girl and the heartbreaking origin of ‘Me too’
http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/17/us/me-too-tarana-burke-origin-trnd/index.html

Rochester Launches New Inquiry Into Harassment Accusations
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/20/nyregion/rochester-professor-florian-jaeger-sexual-harassment.html?_r=0

Professor accused of sexual harassment plunges university into scandal
http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/professor-accused-of-sexual-harassment-plunges-university-into-scandal/news-story/3b58cb65bff81c74b729759171f0b306

Scientists to begin sending messages to aliens, despite warnings that it could trigger Earth’s destruction
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/alien-messages-meti-stephen-hawking-messaging-extraterrestrial-intelligence-a7497741.html

Wikipedia: Arecibo message
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arecibo_message


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Episode 305: Updating Shakespeare (featuring the artists of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival)

Time to check in on Shakespeare.

Away from the glare of the footlights, the Play On! project is underway to translate all the Bard’s works into Present-Day English. How is it progressing? What’s staying, and what’s going?

We’re talking to Amelia Roper, Kate McConnell, Yvette Nolan, Migdalia Cruz, Ishia Bennison, and Taylor Bailey of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Thanks, all! Your support matters to us.

Become a Patreon supporter yourself and get access to bonus audio and video, extra blog posts, Talk the Talk merch, our infamous Cutting Room Floor posts, and more!

Show notes

NSW introduces nation’s first laws to recognise and revive Indigenous languages
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-11/nsw-passes-unprecedented-laws-to-revive-indigenous-languages/9039746

NSW introduces Australia’s first law to recognise and revive Aboriginal languages
https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/australia/97860885/nsw-introduces-australias-first-law-to-recognise-and-revive-aboriginal-languages

Aboriginal Languages Bill 2017 (PDF)
http://www.aboriginalaffairs.nsw.gov.au/pdfs/languages-consultations/Draft-Aboriginal-Languages-Bill.pdf

Recognising and protecting NSW Aboriginal languages
http://www.aboriginalaffairs.nsw.gov.au/recognising-and-protecting-nsw-aboriginal-languages

Indigenous Language Bill passed by NSW senate
http://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/4984432/new-bill-is-a-big-step-forward/

The ‘myth’ of language history: Languages do not share a single history
https://phys.org/news/2017-10-myth-language-history-languages.html

Greenhill et al.: Evolutionary dynamics of language systems
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/10/02/1700388114.full

Translating Shakespeare: The Play on! Project
https://www.osfashland.org/prologue/prologue-spring-2017/prologue-spring-17-play-on.aspx

Breadcrumbing, Stashing, and Other Internet Dating Slang I Wish You Didn’t Need to Know
https://www.self.com/story/internet-dating-slang

Haunting is the new ghosting is the new…you know what? We gotta stop this.
http://mashable.com/2017/04/20/haunting-dating-ghosting/

‘Cushioning’ is the new dating trend you have to worry about
https://www.dailydot.com/irl/cushioning-new-dating-trend-worry/

‘Stashing’ is the newest way to get screwed over in love
http://mashable.com/2017/08/21/stashing-dating-slang/

“Benching” Is the Cruel New Dating Trend That’s Even Worse Than Ghosting
https://www.teenvogue.com/story/benching-dating-trend-ghosting

The internet baes who ‘breadcrumb’ you and never meet you in person
http://mashable.com/2017/01/25/online-dating-breadcrumbing/


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