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
What is the expression 'beyond the pale' on about? How do you express the absence of feeling? Does 'testify' have anything to do with testicles? Do avocados have anything to do with testicles? How does the phrase "It's all Greek to me" relate to food styling? Can you have a caper with capers? Are sharks misunderstood, etymologically and morally? And finally: where do allusions come from?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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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).
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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.