Today: three pieces about alter egos, when your name - the words by which the world knows you - is replaced by another for particular purposes.
How did John Doe come to be the name for a man, alive or dead, identity unknown or concealed in a legal matter? Strap in for a whirlwind ride into some frankly batshit centuries-old English law.
At their first bout of the 2019 season, the London Roller Girls talk about how they chose their roller derby names - or why they chose to get rid of one.
The 1930s and 40s were a golden age for detective fiction, which was also very popular and lucrative. Yet writing it was disreputable enough for authors to hide behind pseudonyms.
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
Does the available vocabulary for sex leave something to be desired? Namely desire? (And also the ability to use it wthout laughing/dying of embarrassment?) Aiding in the search for a better sex lexicon - sexicon - are Kaitlin Prest of fellow Radiotopia podcast The Heart, and romance novelist Mhairi McFarlane.Read More
Escape into the loving embrace of a romance novel - although don't think you'll be able to escape gender politics while you're in there. Bea and Leah Koch, proprietors of the romance-only bookstore The Ripped Bodice, consider the genre; and publisher Lisa Milton scrolls through the 109-year history of the imprint that epitomises romance novels, Mills & Boon.Read More
'Classics' started off meaning Latin and Greek works, then literary works that smacked of similar, and now - what, exactly? Books that are full of bonnets and dust?Read More
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Words are all over the place. So how do you turn them into fun games? Here to show the way is Leslie Scott, founder of Oxford Games and inventor of more than forty games - including word games such as Ex Libris, Anagram and Flummoxed, and the non-word game Jenga.
- Leslie describes how she invented and marketed Jenga.
- Here's a YouTube tutorial for making a Rainbow Jenga drink. Um, I might pass.
- Cheer up, Scrabble fans: Grammar Girl has found some lovely Scrabble tchotchkes for you.
- It never made it to the mass market - YET - but a while ago I made a giant inflatable Boggle set. Possibly the world's first/only?
- Have you heard this episode of 99% Invisible about companies which you can hire to name your products? If not, do.
- I'm really enjoying this thread on the Allusionist Facebook page about the games you lot play to enliven boring journeys. There are several variants on The Numberplate Game.
- The transcript of this episode is here.
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MAILCHIMP'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
- Leslie Scott is the founder of Oxford Games, which you can find at oxfordgames.co.uk and twitter.com/oxfordgames, and she herself tweets as @AboutJenga. She is an absolute delight, and I'm curious to read her book.
- If you noticed cup-noises and sneezing in the background of the episode, it's because Leslie and I met at Kipferl cafe in Islington, London. What you lose in acoustic perfection, you gain in Austrian espresso cake perfection.
- This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. All 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.