Episode 174: Big Data, Small World

There’s a lot of data out there.

And people are using it to find some pretty interesting patterns. Whether it’s finding global superdialects, or inferring language similarity from the errors of English learners, computers are expanding our language horizons.

Linguist Daniel Midgley brings you the world on this episode of Talk the Talk.

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Promo with Ronan Lane

Show notes

Oxford Dictionaries Online releases its quarterly list of new words

A formative moment in comedy: Danny Thomas’s first spit-take

Computational Linguistics of Twitter Reveals the Existence of Global Superdialects

Using Twitter, Linguists Find Global ‘Superdialects’

The article

Some linguists on Reddit are snarky about this.

Linguists on r/badlinguistics, especially so.

Here’s How Foreign Language Speakers Typically Screw Up English
(Despite the uncharitable title, it’s a good article.)

MIT press release

The Word Atlas of Linguistic Structures is a fascinating way to pass the time.

About how long would it take for an English speaker to learn another language?


THE: The Loudest Word in Rock and Roll

Some bands are even using “Thee”

Show tunes

‘Lookin’ for a Superman’ by Iron and Wine
from the album Around the Well

‘It Ain’t No Sin’ by Thee Mighty Caesars
from the album Beware the Ides of March


  1. Hello Daniel and Ben, from the North Pacific coast of North America! I've been a TTT podcast listener for some time, and have just started livestreaming RTR, on the strength of your show. Sole problem: neither their site nor yours mentions when I can hear you on-air. (Why are you not on the programme grid??)

    So… can you tell me what WA day and time I can catch you "old school"?

    Thanks. Love the show!

    Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

  2. Gosh, someone from the homeland. Great to hear from you!

    You can stream us on RTRfm on Tuesdays at around 11:30 am, West Australian time. In the Pacific NW, you'll be either 15 or 16 hours behind us, depending on DST.

    I've updated our "How to get Talk the Talk" page to reflect this.

  3. Great! When I'm awake at that hour, I'll tune in! (And continue to listen on podcast the rest of the time.) And a pleasure to hear from someone else who must frequently experience WA Confusion. (We know who we are.) Like Steven Wright says: "It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it."

    Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

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