On 15 November 1992, the New York Times printed a ‘ Lexicon of Grunge’, a list of slang terms from the Seattle music scene. ‘Harsh realm’ = bummer. ‘Wack slacks’ = old ripped jeans. ‘Swingin’ on the flippity-flop’ = hanging out.
Not familiar with any of these? It’s OK, it’s not because you’re a cob nobbler (= loser). They were all made up. By Megan Jasper. Now the CEO of Sub Pop records, she explains why she pranked an unsuspecting journalist.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
Got a company or a product or a website you need to name? Well, be wary of the potential pitfalls: trademark disputes; pronounceability; being mistaken for a dead body...
Name developer Nancy Friedman explains how she helps companies find the right names, and why so many currently end in '-ify'.
Plus: The Allusionist's origin story, with Radiotopiskipper Roman Mars.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 email@example.com 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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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 diffen.com or the-difference-between.com.
- 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).
SUPPORT THE SHOW VIA TODAY'S SPONSOR OFFERS:
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Passion House Coffee Roasters freshly roast their beans then send them off to you for the glugging. You lot can score 20% off the AME Mix box set, featuring coffees in the three Passion House genres, Ambient, Mainstream and Experimental: use the offer code ALLUSIONIST when you visit passionhousecoffee.com.
MAILCHIMP'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
- Hampton and Michael Catlin founded Wordset, the online collaborative dictionary that aims to collect every different form of English. You can help out at wordset.org. You can also hear the Catlins on their podcast, We Have A Microphone.
- This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. Thanks to Matthew Crosby for his vocal contributions. The music is by Martin Austwick. Hear and/or download more - WITH LYRICS! - at thesoundoftheladies.bandcamp.com.
- Say hello to me at facebook.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow and twitter.com/helenzaltzman.