Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Podcast Linkfest

Posted by Neal on March 20, 2012

I’ve been enjoying listening to a couple of language-related podcasts recently. First is one from Slate, called Lexicon Valley, hosted by Mike Vuolo and Bob Garfield. In their six episodes to date, they have talked about:

  1. The history of the proscription against ending a sentence with a preposition
  2. The development of faggot as a slur against male homosexuals, with commentary by Arnold Zwicky
  3. Whether between you and I is a case of hypercorrection, or if another rule can describe its distribution.
  4. Black English, with commentary from Walt Wolfram (which they pronounce as “Wolf-Ram”)
  5. What a controversy the publication of Webster’s Third caused in 1961
  6. What insights Scrabble can and cannot give into the nature of English

The episodes are all about half an hour long, and even the ones I didn’t think I’d be too interested in (the dictionary, Scrabble) have turned out to be quite interesting after all. Furthermore, they’re linguistically sound. With all the complaints at Language Log and other places about how news media just can’t be bothered to fact-check anything related to language, I have yet to hear a piece of bad information here. The only part I don’t care too much for is their “lexiconundrum” puzzlers at the end of each episode.

There are no further episodes of Lexicon Valley yet; apparently, these six episodes were a trial run. So listen to them quick, and if you like them, go say so on iTunes, as I’m about to do now.

The other podcast is Conlangery, “the podcast about constructed languages and the people who create them,” hosted by George Corley, Bianca Richards, and William Anniss (sp?). In each episode, these three talk about some aspect of language — discourse particles, dialects, sound systems — ostensibly with the intent of giving conlangers (i.e. language creators) tips and ideas to use in their conlangs. However, the information and observations they bring in should be interesting to anyone interested in language, even if they have no interest whatsoever in creating one. Each episode also has a featured conlang.

Unlike Lexicon Valley, each episode of Conlangery lasts about a full hour, but unlike Lexicon Valley, Conlangery has more than 40 episodes so far, with no sign of quitting yet. The discussions are unscripted, with George loosely moderating and all three making contributions as the spirit moves them. There are sometimes strange background noises (like a recurring “clac-k-k-k-k-k-k” in one episode), and George’s hesitant speaking style takes a little getting used to, but it’s a fun podcast and I look forward to catching up on the episodes I haven’t listened to yet.

While I’m in a link-loving mood, here are a couple of non-podcast links. First, Jonathon Owen’s two most recent posts. If you thought benefactive datives such as I love me some barbecue brisket sounded strange, you’ll find this construction a little bit stranger. In the other post, he talks about a question I’ve had for a while: If plural -s is pronounced as [z] after a vowel, then why is the plural of die still dice instead of dies?

Lastly, a post from Arnold Zwicky about people who “look their nose down” (not “look down their nose”) at things they disapprove of. It reminded me of my own posts about particles, prepositions, and phrasal verbs.

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11 Responses to “Podcast Linkfest”

  1. Wow, thanks a bunch for the link. I love your blog, though I don’t read it as often as I’d like. I’m glad you’re enjoying the podcast and I think you will find that the latest episodes are much more bearable than those early ones. I’ve gotten much better at the whole radio performance thing and have learned audio processing techniques to remove most of the artifacts (and make my speaking more bearable by removing the pauses). I’m also glad our content appeals to someone that is more interested in the linguistics itself than in the conlanging aspect … I love conlangs, but I also love linguistics in general, and hope to become a linguist in the future (I will be going to graduate school for it at the University of Wisconsin starting this fall). I hope that you continue to enjoy the podcast in the future.

    Oh, and it’s Annis (just one ). Also, Bianca is sadly no longer a regular host. In her place we now have Mike Lentine — a college acquaintance of mine that I only discovered was interested in conlanging after I graduated. So far the listener reaction to him has been mostly positive.

  2. the ridger said

    Here’s you a tiny little hint – your link to arrant pedantry is broken. (As I noted over there, “here’s you a …” is just a variant of “here’s a …. for you”, like “buy him an ice cream/an ice cream for him”. I’m aware it’s not very widespread, but I grew up with it.

  3. Wow, so much interesting stuff to listen to! Isn’t the Internet versatile: you only have to close your eyes and it’s a radio!

  4. Have to say that I too would pronounce wolfram as wolf-ram, not being aware of any other way to pronounce it. Am guessing you pronounce the first syllable to rhyme with “golf”.

    • Neal said

      No, I pronounce the first syllable as “wolf”, but I reduce the vowel in the second syllable to a schwa: “Wolfrum”. So do others that know him, and I believe it’s how he pronounces it.

  5. Jonathon said

    Thanks for the links, Neal! But as The Ridger noted above, the first one’s broken—it looks like you’ve got a link to this post mashed together with it.

  6. Neal said

    Jonathon:
    Don’t know what happened, because the link looked OK in the source code. But I re-linked it, and it’s working now.

  7. [...] I cannot copy-paste from iTunes and really don’t want to retype them, but I will link to Literal Minded’s blog post where he linked to us — you should have a look see at that [...]

  8. [...] start by letting Neal Whitman talk. From his blog posting ”Podcast Linkfest” of March 20th: I’ve been enjoying listening to a couple of [...]

  9. [...] and others has been very positive. Arnold Zwicky, who features in one show, is impressed, while Neal Whitman finds it interesting and linguistically sound. Dave Wilton thought the first episode fun and first [...]

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