92: Brunch, gonna, and fozzle - The smooshing episode
Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics
by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne
1M ago
Sometimes two words are smooshed together in a single act of creativity to fill a lexical gap, like making "brunch" from breakfast+lunch. Other times, words are smooshed together gradually, over a long period of speakers or signers discovering more efficient ways to position their mouth or hands, such as pronouncing "handbag" being pronounced more like "hambag". In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about smooshing words together. We talk about the history of portmanteau words like motel and chortle, the poem Jabberwocky, and why some portmanteaus, li ..read more
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91: Scoping out the scope of scope
Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics
by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne
2M ago
When you order a kebab and they ask you if you want everything on it, you might say yes. But you'd probably still be surprised if it came with say, chocolate, let alone a bicycle...even though chocolate and bicycles are technically part of "everything". That's because words like "everything" and "all" really mean something more like "everything typical in this situation". Or in linguistic terms, we say that their scope is ambiguous without context. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about how we can think about ambiguity of meaning in terms of scop ..read more
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90: What visualizing our vowels tells us about who we are
Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics
by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne
3M ago
On Lingthusiasm, we've sometimes compared the human vocal tract to a giant meat clarinet, like the vocal folds are the reed and the rest of the throat and mouth is the body of the instrument that shapes the sound in various ways. However, when it comes to talking more precisely about vowels, we need an instrument with a greater degree of flexibility, one that can produce several sounds at the same time which combine into what we perceive as a vowel. Behold, our latest, greatest metaphor (we're so sorry)... the meat bagpipe! In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get en ..read more
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89: Connecting with oral culture
Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics
by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne
4M ago
For tens of thousands of years, humans have transmitted long and intricate stories to each other, which we learned directly from witnessing other people telling them. Many of these collaboratively composed stories were among the earliest things written down when a culture encountered writing, such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Mwindo Epic, and Beowulf. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about how writing things down changes how we feel about them. We talk about a Ted Chiang short story comparing the spread of literacy to the spread of video rec ..read more
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88: No such thing as the oldest language
Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics
by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne
5M ago
It's easy to find claims that certain languages are old or even the oldest, but which one is actually true? Fortunately, there's an easy (though unsatisfying) answer: none of them! Like how humans are all descended from other humans, even though some of us may have longer or shorter family trees found in written records, all human languages are shaped by contact with other languages. We don't even know whether the oldest language(s) was/were spoken or signed, or even whether there was a singular common ancestor language or several. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawn ..read more
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87: If I were an irrealis episode
Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics
by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne
6M ago
Language lets us talk about things that aren't, strictly speaking, entirely real. Sometimes that's an imaginative object (is a toy sword a real sword? how about Excalibur?). Other times, it's a hypothetical situation (such as "if it rains, we'll cancel the picnic" - but neither the picnic nor the rain have happened yet. And they might never happen. But also they might!). Languages have lots of different ways of talking about different kinds of speculative events, and together they're called the irrealis. In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about som ..read more
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86: Revival, reggaeton, and rejecting unicorns - Basque interview with Itxaso Rodríguez-Ordóñez
Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics
by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne
7M ago
Basque is a language of Europe which is unrelated to the Indo-European languages around it or any other recorded language. As a minority language, Basque has faced considerable pressure from Spanish and French, leading to waves of language revitalization movements from the 1960s and 1980s to the present day. Which means that some of the kids who grew up among language revitalization activities are now adults, and the project of Basque language revival has taken on further dimensions. In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch gets enthusiastic about new speakers and multiple generations of ..read more
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85: Ergativity delights us
Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics
by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne
8M ago
When you have a sentence like "I visit them", the word order and the shape of the words tell you that it means something different from "they visit me". However, in a sentence like "I laugh", you don't actually need those signals -- since there's only one person in the sentence, the meaning would be just as clear if the sentence read "Me laugh" or "Laugh me". And indeed, there are languages that do just this, where the single entity with an intransitive verb like "laugh" patterns with the object (me) rather than the subject (I) of a transitive verb like "visit". This pattern is known as ergati ..read more
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84: Look, it's deixis, an episode about pointing!
Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics
by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne
9M ago
Pointing creates an invisible line between a part of your body and the thing you're pointing at. Humans are really good at producing and understanding pointing, and it seems to be something that helps babies learn to talk, but only a few animals manage it: domestic dogs can follow a point but wolves can't. (Cats? Look, who knows.) There are lots of ways of pointing, and their relative prominence varies across cultures: you can point to something with a finger or two, with your whole hand, with your elbow, your head, your eyes and eyebrows, your lips, and even your words. In this episode, your ..read more
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83: How kids learn Q’anjob’al and other Mayan languages - Interview with Pedro Mateo Pedro
Lingthusiasm - A podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics
by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne
10M ago
Young kids growing up in Guatemala often learn Q’anjob’al, Kaq’chikel, or another Mayan language from their families and communities. But they don’t live next to the kinds of major research universities that do most of the academic studies about how kids learn languages. Figuring out what these kids are doing is part of a bigger push to learn more about language learning in a broader variety of sociocultural settings. In this episode, your host Gretchen McCulloch gets enthusiastic about how kids learn Q’anjob’al and other Mayan languages with Dr. Pedro Mateo Pedro, who’s an assistant professor ..read more
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