They look like numbers. They sound like numbers. You kinda know they are numbers. But they're not actually numbers. Linguistic anthropologist Stephen Chrisomalis explains what's going on with indefinite hyperbolic numerals like 'zillion', 'squillion' and 'kajillion'.Read More
Translation, A Love Story:
Translator listens to The Allusionist. Translator hears about the podcast The Memory Palace. Translator listens to The Memory Palace. Translator immediately becomes smitten with The Memory Palace. Translator translates The Memory Palace from English to Brazilian Portuguese, and turns it into a book - O Palácio da Memória - which will be published in Brazil two weeks hence.
But, like any love story, it's not quite that simple.Read More
It's August 2007. Lauren Marks is a 27-year-old actor and a PhD student, spending the month directing a play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She's in a bar, standing onstage, performing a karaoke duet of 'Total Eclipse of the Heart'... and then a blood vessel in her brain bursts. When she wakes up in hospital, days later, she has no internal monologue, and a vocabulary of only forty words.Read More
There’s a small matter I trip over regularly in the Allusionist:
Not the fruit.
BC and AD, Before Christ and Anno Domini ('the year of the Lord' ('the Lord' also being Christ)).
How did Jesus Christ get to be all up in our system of counting the years?Read More
As considered in episode 51, Under the Covers part II, the vocabulary for sex and associated body parts is tricky to navigate in many ways - but even more so if you are trans or gender non-binary.
Following that show, I heard from several trans and non-binary listeners, recounting their experiences of that vocabulary; so I decided to make this episode about it.Read More
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Hrishikesh Hirway of Song Exploder wants people to stop saying 'namaste' after a yoga session.Read More
"Sometimes you want to make the dictionary sexy, but it's just not a sexy thing."Read More
"Recognizing someone's humanity is crucial. Calling someone a migrant, calling someone an asylum seeker, calling them a refugee: these are official categories. But in many ways, depending on how they use them, they can change and become more negative."
So says propaganda and migration specialist Emma Briant, explaining the dangers of conflating and misusing the terms that apply to humans on the move. And British-Asian-but-kinda-not author Nikesh Shukla wonders where he's from - where he is really from.Read More
Sometimes words can become your worst enemy. Clinical psychologist and cognitive behavioural therapist Dr Jane Gregory tells how to defuse their power.Read More
The term 'sanctuary cities' has been in the news a lot in the past few weeks, as places in the USA declare themselves to be havens for undocumented immigrants. Though 'sanctuary' has a history of meaning safety for the persecuted, it has an even longer history of meaning something quite different: refuge for criminals.Read More