Allusionist 95. Verisimilitude

When you’re watching a fantasy or science fiction show, and the characters are speaking a language that does not exist in this world but sounds like it could - that doesn’t happen by accident, or improvisation. A lot - a LOT! - of work goes into inventing new languages that sound real. Conlanger David Peterson talks about how he created languages for HBO’s Game of Thrones.

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Allusionist 18: Fix part II


The messiness of English is the price of its success. It is the most widely spoken language in the world, geographically, being an official language in 88 different countries, and there are countless different versions of it all over the world. With so many speakers in so many places, it would be impossible to establish a single 'correct' form of English; and, as became evident in Fix part I, to try to do so is a losing game.

In Europe, a new strain of English is emerging. It's not spoken very widely, but it is used by some of the most powerful people in the world. Hampton and Michael Catlin, founders of the collaborative online dictionary Wordset, lead us into this linguistic netherworld.

Beware: excessive suffixes.


  • Who WOULDN'T want to read the European Court of Auditors' 66-page 2013 report Misused Words and Expressions in EU Publications? Curl up on the sofa and prepare to discover bold new uses for 'homogenise', 'mission' and 'jury'.
  • The history of musical notation, do re mi - née ut re mi - is interesting; read more about it here.
  • If you're infuriated by someone who muddles up words like 'gamut' and 'gamete', you could direct them to or
  • The transcript of today's show is here.
  • The Guardian interviewed me about the Allusionist and Answer Me This; take a look here (if just for the accompanying photo).


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The next episode will appear in a fortnight. Thank you for your actorness in listening.

- HZ

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