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

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 …

368: Poetry

Poetry isn’t (just) enjoyable, it can be useful.

It can help us with language learning and memorisation, and help us in historical linguistics. And even computers are getting into poetry generation, probably because they want to learn the secret of …

367: Your Inner Prescriptivist (with Alyssa Severin)

Even if we’re trying not to be the grammar police, we all have that internal voice that notices linguistic difference, and categorises people thereby.

How do we deal with that inner prescriptivist? How can we have linguistic discussions with grammar …

366: Oxbows (Live Q&A)

Akimbo. Throes. Tizzy.

Some words only appear in limited contexts. But what do they mean? The fascinating histories of these words can tell us more about how English works — and language in general.

We’re in tatters — or …

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