359: False Friends (Live Q&A)

They feel so right, but sound so wrong.

They’re false friends — pairs of words in different languages that seem like they’d mean the same thing, but don’t. Which ones have you run across in your language experience?

Our friends …

358: Mailbag of Mallets

Again we tackle the questions that others dast not.

  • Why do all children seem to know the nyah nyah song?
  • Why do classic movie stars talk in that strange accent?
  • Do Chinese characters stay readable longer than English words?
  • Who

357: The F-Word (with Jesse Sheidlower)

Flexible. Funny. Foul.

This most versatile of English words is all of these and more. And it gets a thorough cataloging in The F-Word by lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower.

He sits down with Daniel for a chat on history, power, …

356: The The Show (with Nick Wilson)

THUH alien, or THEE alien?

It all depends on whether the next word starts with a vowel sound or a consonant sound. At least that’s the story. But one researcher is finding a lot of speakers are doing something very …

355: The Bee Show (with Stephen Mann)

Bees: not just great pollinators; great communicators.

The dance of the European honeybee is one of the most famous methods of communication in the animal kingdom, and shows features that are very similar to human language.

But are bees losing …

354: Shiny Crumb (Live Q&A)

Have you ever blanked on a word and said something else?

It may not just be you. Some mild forms of anomia happen as we age, but research finds that lexical recall is not straightforward.

We’ll be hearing from you …

353: Mailbag of Highly Intelligent Listeners

Listeners have sent us a bracket of great questions.

Will there ever be only one language on earth? When was the beginning of buzzwords? And why do some people say I have went?

We’ll give our best answers on …

352: Wait (with Sali Tagliamonte)

Wait — you mean people are doing something new in English? They sure are.

It’s happening to the word wait, and it’s been spotted by famed sociolinguist Dr Sali Tagliamonte of the University of Toronto. Do you start sentences with …

351: A Perfect Alphabet (or, The Royal Tweet)

Some deep thoughts are going on at the Palace.

The Royal Family is tweeting about what a perfect alphabet would look like, and how far the English alphabet varies from this ideal. And are there any redundant letters?

Hedvig, …

350: Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish (with Zalmen Mlotek and Motl Didner)

Fiddler on the Roof is heading to Broadway — in Yiddish for the first time.

What went into the production? How did translation work? What does this production mean to the cast and to audience members?

Daniel speaks with Zalmen Mlotek

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