377: Mailbag of Uncomfortableness

The mail keeps coming, and we keep answering.

  • Is English really a dialect of Chinese?
  • Why do people say “uncomfortableness”, when we already have “discomfort”?
  • Are “ankh” and “anchor” related?
  • How does learning traditional languages help communities?
  • Is there a

376: Language Hotspots (with Xia Hua)

Some parts of the world are packed with languages. Others not so much.

Is there a reason that some places are linguistically dense? Researchers are turning up connections between biological ecology and language ecology.

Xia Hua studies language diversity, and …

375: Community Size Matters (with Limor Raviv)

Why are some languages more systematic than others?

We often hear about the irregularities in English, and other languages have them as well. But new work shows that systematicity in a language is influenced by the number of speakers in …

Radiothon 2019 Special

Daniel Midgley and Teri Campbell are in the studio for a big big Radiothon special!

Radiothon is RTRFM’s yearly pledge drive. RTRFM is a community radio station that relies on support from listeners. You can donate by going to rtrfm.com.au/subscribe

374: Polari, Britain’s Lost Gay Language (with Paul Baker)

When homosexuality was illegal, a secret language brought people together.

In 1960s England, Polari was a creative blend of Romani, Italian, rhyming slang, and backslang, used among the LGBT community. It could be used to communicate, or to identify someone …

373: Mailbag of Processes

We’re opening up the Mailbag for another episode.

  • Are sneezes written the same way everywhere?
  • Do all languages have rhyming name games?
  • Can all languages do all the things?
  • Why does “this and that” sound normal, but “that and this”

372: Because Internet (with Gretchen McCulloch)

The rules are changing. Here’s the manual.

Gretchen McCulloch’s book Because Internet is a look at how people use language on the net to communicate and to show identity. How do people laugh online? How is emoji like gesture?

It’s …

371: -nado, -holic, -pocalypse: Combining Forms (Live Q&A)

Take a tornado. Add some sharks. You’ve got a sharknado.

But it’s not just sharks that can leap out of their normal context. It looks like –nado is jumping free and becoming a combining form — a part …

370: Named Wrong (Live Q&A)

Names are what they are, and as long as they work, they work.

But sometimes in the history of naming, people name things in a manner inapt to their nature or origin. So what’s the story behind words like atom

369: The Grammarian Is In (with Ellen Jovin)

If you’re at a park in New York City, you may see someone at a table offering free grammar advice.

That person is writer Ellen Jovin, and she dispenses wisdom from her Grammar Table. What motivates her to do …

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