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 91. Bonus 2018

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.

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Allusionist 82. A Novel Remedy

When you're feeling unwell, what's the book you read to make yourself feel better? And why does it work?

Clinical psychologist Jane Gregory explains why she sometimes prescribes novel-reading to her patients; and academic Guy Cuthbertson tells how post-WW1 Britain was soothed by Agatha Christie's murder mysteries.

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Allusionist 69. How the Dickens Stole Christmas

Charles Dickens wrote about the plight of the impoverished and destitute members of British society. So how come his name is a synonym for rosy-cheeked, full-stomached, fattened-goose, hearty merry "God bless us every one" Christmas?

Avery Trufelman and Katie Mingle of 99% Invisible report from the streets of Victorian London at the annual Dickens Christmas Fair in Daly City, California, while historian Greg Jenner explains the origins of the festive traditions for which Dickens gets the credit, without even wanting the credit - in fact, his motivation for writing A Christmas Carol was far from a cash-in on Christmas.

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Allusionist 15: Step Away

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'Step-', as in stepparents or stepchildren, originated in grief. Family structures have evolved, but are stepmothers now so tainted by fairytale associations with the word 'wicked' that we need new terminology? Lore's Aaron Mahnke stops by to describe the lovelessness, literary tropes and life expectancy around 'step-'.

ADDITIONAL READING:

On Tuesday 4th August 2015 at 8pm UK time, 3pm ET, 12pm PT, I'll be doing a live discussion about this episode at spoken.am. Please come along to tell me what you think, divulge about your own steprelatives, and to ask me anything about the show.

Go to spoken.am to request your invite* and I'll see you there, yes? (Or you can catch up afterwards, if you must.)

UPDATE: Now that we are living in the post-live chat era, you can catch up at spoken.am/allusionist/step-away

*My school English teacher used to HATE people using 'invite' as a noun. I feel both guilty and slyly delighted to have done so just now.

This episode was sponsored by HelloFresh, who'll deliver fresh, healthy meal kits to your door. And they've got very tasty special offers for you Allusionist listeners in the USA if you visit hellofresh.com/allusion.

MAILCHIMP'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
emolument

CREDITS:

Back in a fortnight. Don't let anyone turn you into a pumpkin in the meantime.

- HZ

The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.