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20: Speaking Canadian and Australian English in a British-American binary

Australian and Canadian English don’t sound much alike, but they have one big similarity: they’re both national varieties that tend to get overshadowed by their more famous siblings. In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch use Lynne Murphy’s new book The Prodigal Tongue as a guide to the sometimes prickly relationship between the globally dominant British and American varieties of English, give a mini history of English in our own countries, and...


19: Sentences with baggage - Presuppositions

What’s so weird if I say, “the present King of France is bald” or “I need to pick up my pet unicorn from the vet”? It seems like those sentences should be false: at least, they certainly can’t be true. But if you reply, “No, he isn’t” or “No, you don’t” it still feels unsatisfying: aren’t we still both assuming that France has a king and that I have a pet unicorn? In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch explore different kinds of meanings: sometimes...


18: Translating the untranslatable

Lists of ‘untranslatable’ words always come with... translations. So what do people really mean when they say a word is untranslatable? In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch explore how how we translate different kinds of meaning. What makes words like schadenfreude, tsundoku, and hygge so compelling? Which parts of language are actually the most difficult to translate? What does it say about English speakers that we have a word for “tricking someone into watching...


17: Vowel Gymnastics

Say, “aaaaaahhhh…..” Now try going smoothly from one vowel to another, without pausing: “aaaaaaaeeeeeeeiiiiiii”. Feel how your tongue moves in relation to the back of the roof of your mouth as you move from one vowel to the next. When you say “ahhhh” like at the dentist, your tongue is low and far back and your mouth is all the way open. If you say “cheeeeese” like in a photo, your tongue is higher up and further forward, and your mouth is more closed: it’s a lot harder for the dentist to...


14: Getting into, up for, and down with prepositions

Are you up for some prepositions? You might think you’re over prepositions, but have you ever really looked into them, or have you just gone by them? Other parts of speech notwithstanding, prepositions are something we’re really down with. In Episode 14 of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne introduce you to our favourite English grammar book, the mammoth, 1800-page Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (affectionately known as CGEL), and take a deep dive into...


07: Kids these days aren’t ruining language

There are some pretty funny quotes of historical people complaining about kids back then doing linguistic things that now seem totally unremarkable. So let’s cut to the chase and celebrate linguistic innovation while it’s happening. In episode 7 of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch explore how far back we can trace complaints about the language of Kids These Days, why linguistic discrimination is harmful, and why “be like”, hyperbolic “literally”, and other...


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