Talk The Talk



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


  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 17: Words of the Week of the Year 2020

    22/12/2020 Duration: 01h49min

    On this momentous episode, we look back on all the words that made our year. Like, all of them. Including some from other languages. Many words were discussed in the context of the annual vote of the American Dialect Society, but the greatest were voted on by you, the listeners. Ready? Let’s talk words!

  • 16: Mailbag of Spedrun

    08/12/2020 Duration: 01h14min

    Our Mailbag is at capacity! Time to get to these questions. We have pronouns and proverbs. So why don’t we have proadjectives and proadverbs? Is it on accident, or by accident? What’s the past tense of speedrun? When has a loanword become just another word? Why do we say we’re going ham? Why do people pronounce dynasty differently? When we talk about accents, why is so much of the discussion about vowels?

  • 15: Xenolanguage (with Kathryn Hymes)

    30/11/2020 Duration: 01h12min

    If you love language, and you also love role-playing games with a sci-fi flair, then you're going to want to check out the new game Xenolanguage. It allows players to make first contact and decipher alien messages while working through their tangled personal relationships. Kathryn Hymes of Thorny Games joins us for this episode.

  • 14: Word Jail (with Ian Cushing)

    10/11/2020 Duration: 01h14min

    Schools are banning words and policing language. It may be a well-meaning attempt to encourage good language habits, but it also perpetuates troubling language ideologies that may be harming the very students that schools are committed to educate. Linguist Ian Cushing tells us about his findings.

  • 13: White Supremacy (with Kelly Wright)

    29/10/2020 Duration: 01h25min

    The definition of white supremacy: is it expanding, or are we just getting better at recognising it and its reach? How does white supremacy show itself in language and in linguistics? Kelly Wright talks about her work in sociolinguistics, and how we all can do better.

  • 11: Aboriginal English: Yarning (with Glenys Collard and Celeste Rodriguez Louro)

    09/10/2020 Duration: 01h05min

    Aboriginal English has been around a long while, but linguists have not taken the opportunity to really listen to the voices of Aboriginal people. Two researchers are changing that. They're gathering stories to find out what Aboriginal English is like, and how it's changing. Daniel sits down with them for a wicked long yarn on this episode of Because Language.

  • 10: What's with Wugs?

    28/09/2020 Duration: 01h12min

    These cute critters, once part of a pioneering study in child language acquisition, have become an unofficial mascot of linguistics. But now they’re part of a tussle over intellectual property. We do our best to talk through the Wug test and the surrounding struggle.  

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