Talk The Talk



A show about linguistics, the science of language, on RTRFM 92.1 community radio, Perth.


  • 42: Replicability Crisis (with Martine Grice and Bodo Winter)

    01/12/2021 Duration: 01h34min

    The sciences are facing a replicability crisis. Some landmark studies were once considered settled, but then failed when they were retested. So have any linguistic experiments been toppled? And how do we fix this problem? Dr Martine Grice and Dr Bodo Winter have contributed to a special issue of Linguistics, and they join us for this fun episode.

  • 39: Is This a Reference? (with Sylvia Sierra)

    01/11/2021 Duration: 01h41min

    You probably communicate with your friends using media references all the time. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But why do we include media references, when we could just talk? Turns out it has a lot to do with identity, building social relationships, and communication — all the stuff that language normally does. We’re having a media-heavy discussion with Dr Sylvia Sierra about her book Millennials Talking Media: Creating Intertextual Identities in Everyday Conversation.

  • 38: Generativism 2: How It's Going (with Taylor Miller and Adam Tallman)

    14/10/2021 Duration: 01h56min

    This is the second of a two-parter on generativism, the linguistic school of thought originated by Noam Chomsky. This time, it's from the perspective of early-career researchers. How is generativism relevant to them, and how do they regard its claims? We ask: What importance does linguistic theory have on day-to-day research? How does generativism relate to nativism, the idea that at least some language is innate? Is there a conflict between generativism and functionalism today? What's the next step in the generative enterprise?

  • 37: Generativism 1: How It Started (with David Adger and John Goldsmith)

    30/09/2021 Duration: 01h50min

    We’re doing a deep dive into generativism, the linguistic school of thought championed by Noam Chomsky. It’s had an enormous impact on the direction of linguistics, and even those who disagree with the generative programme will be at least somewhat conversant with its claims and the debate around it. Here, we’ll try to answer questions such as: What is generativism, and what are its claims? What does generativism help you to do in linguistics? What is the relationship to nativism, the idea that some aspects language are inborn? How does generativism relate to functionalism? What should the next generation of generative linguists keep in mind?

  • 35: Something's Got to Change (with Lesley Woods and Alice Gaby)

    27/08/2021 Duration: 01h21min

    Linguistics as a discipline throws up challenges to Indigenous linguists. At the same time, they're the ones called upon to fix it. It can't stay like this. How do we make linguistics a safe place to work? Daniel, Hedvig, and very special co-host Ayesha Marshall are having a yarn with Lesley Woods and Dr Alice Gaby about their work in changing linguistics for the better.

  • 34: OzCLO 2021: 2 Cool 4 School (with Elisabeth Mayer, Henry Wu, Victoria Papaioannou, and the students of Melbourne Girls Grammar School)

    05/08/2021 Duration: 01h46min

    OzCLO is the Australian Computational and Linguistic Olympiad. It gets students together to compete and solve linguistic problems. It’s also a gateway to further linguistic study. We’ve brought some of the winning students to compete in a linguistic quiz with Ben and Hedvig. Will it go well for them?

  • 32: Fallen Leaves: The Chinese Languages (with Wu Mei-Shin, Ye Jingting, and Israel Lai)

    18/07/2021 Duration: 01h38min

    What we call sometimes Chinese is really a gigantic family of languages. They’re somewhat divided in mutual intelligibility, and somewhat united in their writing system. How are they different, and how are they maintaining themselves? Two Chinese researchers, Wu Mei-Shin and Ye Jingting, join us. And what’s going on in the Cantonese lingopod world? We’re joined by Israel Lai of Rhapsody in Lingo.

  • 29: Cultish (with Amanda Montell)

    08/06/2021 Duration: 01h47min

    Blog post with show notes: Support the show on Patreon: Language helps us build and maintain social relationships. Cults — however we define them — exploit this function and subvert it for their own ends. Amanda Montell is the author of the new book Cultish, and she joins us for this show.  

  • 28: The Cutting Edge (with Emma Schimke, Georgia Dempster, and Kirsten Ellis) - Pint of Science Takeover episode!

    26/05/2021 Duration: 01h33min

    Show notes:  We're taking over Pint of Science (or are they taking over us?) for this episode! Three researchers are presenting their work in language, and they'll also tell us what they're learning about public science communication.

  • 27: It’s All Semantics (live at LingFest 2021)

    18/05/2021 Duration: 01h29min

    Blog post with show notes and video episode: Become a patron yourself: Are fish wet? What is bi-weekly? And which Monday is next Monday? We’re solving some of the thorniest problems in semantics by voting, because that’s how language works!

  • 26: Hyphen (with Pardis Mahdavi)

    28/04/2021 Duration: 01h33min

    It joins, it divides. It’s disappearing in some places, but it’s stronger than ever in others. For this episode, we’re talking to Professor Pardis Mahdavi, author of Hyphen, an exploration of identity and self as it concerns this confounding little mark.

  • 25: Transcription (with Maya Klein)

    15/04/2021 Duration: 01h43min

    Who listens to the show more closely than anyone (except possibly Daniel)? It's Maya Klein, who transcribes every word we say in excruciating detail. What goes into the process of transcription, and is a word-for-word approach really the best? And what quirks and habits do we have on the show? Maya roasts us on this episode of Because Language.

  • 24: Higher Ed Discrimination (with Gail Clements, Marnie Jo Petray, and Fabio Trecca)

    31/03/2021 Duration: 01h46min

    For many students, university opens up new frontiers of learning — and new ways to be marginalised for their language use. A new book explores the problem of linguistic discrimination in higher education, and how to work toward fixing it. Also: Danish presents an unusual challenge for those who try to learn it — even babies. Why is Danish like this, and what does it tell us about language?

  • 23: Mailbag of YouChoob (with the Layman's Linguist)

    24/03/2021 Duration: 01h24min

    We're tackling these Mailbag questions with the help of our special guest and star of TikTok, the Layman's Linguist! Where do they say CHUBE instead of TUBE? When did contractions come into English, and why don't characters in period dramas use them? Did Hebrew displace Yiddish when it was revitalised? Do bilingual children have delays in syntax? When did the word APOLOGY move from a defence to an expression of contrition? Did linguistics affect your religious faith?

  • 22: Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction (with Jesse Sheidlower)

    17/03/2021 Duration: 01h39min

    What’s a corpsicle? How old is the word hyperspace? Who was the first writer to use the term warp drive? These and many other terms can be found in the landmark work The Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction, and with us is the editor, lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower.

  • 21: Journal Club: Newsblast!

    26/02/2021 Duration: 01h20min

    There's so much news and research coming out, we can hardly address it all! But we're giving it a try on this episode of Little Words Newsblast Journal Club. Uzbek is romanising Honesty / certainty has a prosodic profile People with "gay-sounding" voices anticipate rejection and discrimination Language patterns emerge in protactile communities Gesture shows patterns

  • 20: Madam VP (with Nicole Holliday and Caroline Kilov)

    09/02/2021 Duration: 01h28min

    Kamala Harris is the first woman — and woman of colour — to be Vice President of the United States. In the campaign, she had to pull off a tricky task: stay true to her voice and multiple aspects of her identity by employing features of African-American English that would resonate with Black voters, but that wouldn’t alienate white voters. How did she do it? Dr Nicole Holliday joins Ben, Hedvig, and Daniel on this episode of Because Language.

  • 19: Mailbag, Schmailbag

    06/02/2021 Duration: 01h33min

    More great questions from our Mailbag! How did we get from SUSS (suspect) to SUSS OUT (find out)? Is the J in JORTS part of a portmanteau, or a real live prefix? Why do PEEP, PEEK, and PEER resemble each other? Which acronym etymologies aren't bunk? Why do we add a SCHM- to words to signify derision? Are Mormon missionaries supernaturally good at learning languages?

  • 18: Swearin' Time (with Kory Stamper)

    19/01/2021 Duration: 01h28min

    There's a new show on Netflix, and it's The History of Swearing, featuring Nicolas Cage. Backing him up is a team of researchers, comedians — and one of our favourite lexicographers, Kory Stamper. Kory tells us all about the show on this episode of Because Language.

  • 12: Mailbag: Will Ben Get It Right?

    23/12/2020 Duration: 01h10min

    The questions keep coming! Let’s answer them. Why is “Live Laugh Love” in that order? Why do we talk about “getting out the vote”? Why is the L sound creeping into some words? What can computer languages tell us about human languages? Is there a word for turning a label into an insult, like Dumbocrats or Repuglicans?

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