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The Allusionist

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Small adventures in language by Helen Zaltzman from Answer Me This . This podcast is a proud member of Radiotopia . Visit theallusionist.org .

Pieces

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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-che...

  • Added: Dec 14, 2017
  • Length: 24:22
Caption: Allusionist Winterval logo
There's a word that has become shorthand for 'the war on Christmas' with a side of 'political correctness gone mad': Winterval. It began in Novemb...

  • Added: Dec 14, 2017
  • Length: 11:08
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Breaking up is hard to do, and it's hard to put into appropriate words. Comedian Rosie Wilby seeks a better term for 'ex', and family law barrister...

  • Added: Mar 06, 2016
  • Length: 18:28
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The 2016 US election isn't going away anytime soon, so let's seek refuge in etymology. Consider the linguistically appropriate age of a senator, an...

  • Added: Feb 25, 2016
  • Length: 36:05
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You're looking for your perfect partner, but dating sites keep matching you with duds. So what do you do? Conduct an elaborate linguistic experimen...

  • Added: Feb 06, 2016
  • Length: 41:57
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Your online dating profile is the latest spin on a 300-year-old tradition of advertising yourself in order to find a spouse, a sexual partner, or s...

  • Added: Feb 03, 2016
  • Length: 41:08
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CONTENT WARNING: Be wary of listening to this episode around young children, as there may be life spoilers. Historian Greg Jenner traces the origin...

  • Added: Dec 14, 2015
  • Length: 25:35
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There’s a language which is said to be the smallest language in the world. It has around 123 words, five vowels, nine consonants, and apparently yo...

Bought by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation


  • Added: Dec 14, 2015
  • Length: 20:24
  • Purchases: 1
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It's cathartic; it's a useful historical record; and it might help you behave better on public transport. Neil Katcher and Dave Nadelberg from Mort...

  • Added: Dec 14, 2015
  • Length: 18:58
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Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer from the podcast Criminal stop by to talk about the linguistic challenges of crime reporting. They also share their...

  • Added: Nov 02, 2015
  • Length: 23:05
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Naming something after yourself: a grand display of egomania, or the humble willingness to be overshadowed by your own product? Stationery expert J...

  • Added: Oct 24, 2015
  • Length: 17:56
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La la la, dum di di dum, a wop bop a loo bop a wop bom bom - what are all those non-words doing masquerading as words in songs? Hrishikesh Hirway f...

  • Added: Oct 24, 2015
  • Length: 13:44
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Why do we all sound like idiots when we talk to babies?

  • Added: Oct 08, 2015
  • Length: 22:07
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“Talking about music is like dancing about architecture” is a problematic statement: not just because nobody can agree on who came up with it, but ...

Bought by WABE and PRX Remix


  • Added: Sep 24, 2015
  • Length: 27:04
  • Purchases: 2
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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 languag...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Sep 14, 2015
  • Length: 28:03
  • Purchases: 1
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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...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Aug 14, 2015
  • Length: 27:35
  • Purchases: 1
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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 as...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Aug 12, 2015
  • Length: 38:16
  • Purchases: 1
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Emoji allow communication without words. Could emoji be the universal language of the 21st century?

Bought by WABE


  • Added: Jul 27, 2015
  • Length: 16:54
  • Purchases: 1
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Sometimes words can become your worst enemy.

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 02, 2015
  • Length: 28:27
  • Purchases: 1
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It’s June; the President of the USA has officially designated it LGBT Pride Month, and there’ll be Pride events around the world. But how did the w...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Jun 03, 2015
  • Length: 27:03
  • Purchases: 1