When is cheese not cheese, or crab not crab? When it’s spelled cheez or krab or even ch’eese or cra’b… Novelty spellings for foods-that-aren’t-made-out-of-the-thing-they-sound-like-they’re-made-out-of go back a pretty long way - ‘cheez’ was THE cheese-like substance of the 1920s - but right now, with plant-based foods on the rise, we’re seeing more of them.
Branding consultant and name developer Nancy Friedman casts her expert glance over the apostrophes and deliberate misspellings on foodstuffs; and vegan restaurant owner Melanie Boudens recounts how, this summer, the words ‘cheddar cheese’ on her menu landed her in trouble.Read more
To mark the 100th episode of the Allusionist, here’s a celebratory parade of language-related facts.Read more
Throughout the year, the people who appear on the Allusionist tell me a lot of interesting stuff. Not all of which is relevant to the episode they initially appeared in, so I stash it away in preparation for this moment: the annual bonus episode! Get ready for gory 19th century London slang, the rise and fall of superhero capes, the post-WW1 trend for nudism, and more.Read more
It's a year since Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. And in that year, he's caused a lot of changes in the job of constitutional law professor Elizabeth Joh of What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law podcast - in particular, one verb is now off limits.
Plus, Paul Anthony Jones, aka etymologist extraordinaire Haggard Hawks, describes how politicians' names work their way into our vocabularies.
CONTENT NOTE: this episode contains references to the 45th president of the USA. I know a lot of you listen to The Allusionist for a little escape from politics and current affairs, so let me reassure you that there is not much modern politics in the episode; it’s mostly about history and interesting word facts.Read more
Roman Mars returns for our annual dose of eponyms - words that derive from people's names. This year: explosive revelations about the origins of the word 'guy'.Read more
If you love eponyms like Roman Mars loves eponyms, I'm afraid physician Isaac Siemens is here to deliver some bad news: medics are ditching them, in favour of terms that a) contain information about what the ailment actually is, and/or b) don't honour Nazi war criminals. Eponyms are controversial things.Read more
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La la la, dum di di dum, a wop bop a loo bop a wop bom bom - why are songs riddled with non-words masquerading as words?
Hrishikesh Hirway from Radiotopisibling Song Exploder and songwriter Tony Hazzard explain.
WOAH WOAH WAH-OH, DO BE DOO DOO, HERE'S SOME READING MATTER:
- How to write the perfect pop song. (TL;DR: just get Carly Rae Jepsen to do it.)
- Indie singers become pop songwriters. Are we supposed to feel sorry for them? Because I do not.
- This is an old but good long profile of songwriter Ester 'Wrote Nicki Minaj's Superbass and Rihanna's What's My Name, also stars in Pitch Perfect' Dean, whose writing process seems intriguingly vocable-led.
- Here's a little history of the BBC's The Old Grey Whistle Test, and here's a documentary about it, which contains all the fashion inspiration you need for the next six months.
- Here's the transcript of this episode, though not including the relevant lyrics of 'Agadoo', because there are limits.
- Listener Timothy requested a downloadable MP3 of the special version of the theme tune in this episode. Who am I to deprive you?
Still haven't donated to Radiotopia yet? Here's that link again for you. Slack have offered a further $25,000 provided we get 5,000 donors by Monday 26th October, so don't dawdle.
GAVIN'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
You wanna be a cool guy like Gavin and have the next randomly selected word from the dictionary dedicated to you? Then you'd better become a Radiotopia supporter at Radiotopia.fm. Don't make me tell you again.
Email your donation receipts to firstname.lastname@example.org for the chance to be the randomly selected Radiotopia donor.
- Hrishikesh Hirway makes the excellent podcast Song Exploder, which you'll find at songexploder.net. Here's that Tune-Yards episode I mentioned. He tweets as @songexploder and @hrishihirway.
- Tony Hazzard's extensive career and discography can be found at tonyhazzard.com. His new album The Hallicombe Sessions will arrive in the next few weeks. He tweets as @tonyhazzard.
- This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. Communicate with me at facebook.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow and twitter.com/helenzaltzman.
- Thanks to Martin Austwick for providing the Allusionist theme, and the special vocable version thereof. The other music from the show was, in chronological order:
Ella Fitzgerald - ‘One Note Samba’
The Spice Girls - ‘Spice Up Your Life’
Theme from The Old Grey Whistle Test - ‘Stone Fox Chase’
Little Richard - 'Tutti Frutti'
The Crystals - ‘Da Do Ron Ron’
Black Lace - ‘Agadoo’
JLS - 'She Make Me Wanna'
Betty Wright - ‘Shoorah Shoorah’
Brokeback - ‘In the Reeds’
Come back in a week's time for the next Radiotopial special edition of the Allusionist. I promise not to sing.
The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX, which is supported by Mailchimp, the Knight Foundation, and listeners like you.
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Naming something after yourself: a grand display of egomania, or the humble willingness to be overshadowed by your own product?
Stationery expert James Ward tells the tale of the people who begat the eponymous ballpoint pens Bic and Biro, because, according to 99% Invisible's Roman Mars, "When it comes to word origins, an eponym is the shortest bet you’re going to get a good story out of it."
- Eponyms are swarming all over the place! Particularly when it comes to medical terms, about which there are lots of good little stories about the latter at Whonamedit? Looks like some of those eponymizers are very high achievers.
- You can read James Ward's delightful book Adventures in Stationery (AKA The Perfection of the Paperclip in some territories), and/or you can read about James Ward and his book to whet your appetite.
- Learn more about Thomas 'Bowdlerization' Bowdler. Also listener Mededitor shared this post about bowdlerized Shakespeare.
- Here's a brief history of pens; here's a slightly longer history of pens; and here's the picture dictionary version of the corporate history of Bic.
- Here's a transcript of this episode.
- Here's Roman's tweet that started this whole thing.
If you were creating an eponymous product, what would it be? Mine would be something which doesn't work until the very last minute, just before you throw it away in frustration.
For the next month, there will be new Allusionists every week, each featuring another Radiotopian. If you love Radiotopia's shows and want to help the collective be great, STAY TUNED. Radiotopia needs you. Visit radiotopia.fm on 19th October to find out how you can be involved.
MAILCHIMP'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
- Roman Mars is El Groso of Radiotopia. Find him at twitter.com/romanmars, and 99% Invisible at 99pi.org.
- James Ward is El Groso of Boring Conference. Find him at twitter.com/iamjamesward.com and at iamjamesward.com. And in case you've already forgotten from where I linked to it above, you can buy his book Adventures in Stationery.
- This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. Thanks to Martin Austwick for the music and editorial help, and to Seth and Alison for letting me and Roman record in their Wendy House.
- Communicate with me at facebook.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow and twitter.com/helenzaltzman.
Come back in a week's time for the next Radiotopial special edition of the Allusionist. If you don't, I'll borrow your pen and not return it.
The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.