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The Allusionist

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United States

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Podcasts

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PRX

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English


Episodes

85. Skin Story

9/23/2018
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“I wanted a story that actually lives, and actually dies, and disappears.” In 2003, artist and author Shelley Jackson started the Skin Project: a story printed, word by word, as tattoos on volunteers. https://ineradicablestain.com/skindex.html Find more about this episode at http://theallusionist.org/skin-story. The Allusionist live tour comes to the US, Canada, and Ireland during autumn 2018: … Continue reading 85. Skin Story

Duration:00:20:24

84. Trammels

9/8/2018
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Why would you write books or poems or plays with only one vowel? Or in palindromes? Or only using the example sentences in dictionaries? Sometimes you need to force yourself to jump a few hurdles (and perhaps the rest of the obstacle course) before your creativity will be unleashed. Find more about this episode at … Continue reading 84. Trammels

Duration:00:22:48

83. Yes, As In

8/26/2018
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“Really? As in the animal/foodstuff/music genre?” “Is that a stripper name?” “What were your parents thinking?” When your name is a word that is more usually a noun or adjective than a human moniker, you hear the same questions a lot. But there’s a story in every name, and yours is probably a more interesting story … Continue reading 83. Yes, As In

Duration:00:28:57

82. A Novel Remedy

8/12/2018
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When you’re feeling unwell, what’s the book you read to make yourself feel better? And why does it work? Clinical psychologist Jane Gregory explains why she sometimes prescribes novel-reading to her patients; and academic Guy Cuthbertson tells how post-WW1 Britain was soothed by Agatha Christie. Find out more about this episode at http://theallusionist.org/convalescence. The Allusionist … Continue reading 82. A Novel Remedy

Duration:00:24:51

81. Shark Week

7/27/2018
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Today, we’re dipping into the Allusionist mailbag full of listeners’ linguistic requests, with the help of special guest Hrishikesh Hirway of Song Exploder and The West Wing Weekly podcasts. What is the expression ‘beyond the pale’ on about? How do you express the absence of feeling? Does ‘testify’ have anything to do with testicles? Do avocados … Continue reading 81. Shark Week

Duration:00:27:41

Imaginary Advice: S.E.I.N.F.E.L.D.

6/29/2018
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Hello! I’m currently in hospital so am having to take a little time off work. Therefore, instead of a new Allusionist episode today, here’s my favourite audio piece I’ve heard this year: ‘S.E.I.N.F.E.L.D.’ from Ross Sutherland’s podcast Imaginary Advice. NB: the episode contains a couple of Strong Terms. Hear more Imaginary Advice episodes – some of my favourites … Continue reading Imaginary Advice: S.E.I.N.F.E.L.D.

Duration:00:27:39

80. Warm Front

6/16/2018
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Today will be fine. But wait: fine as in ‘OK’, fine as in ‘really rather good’, or fine as in ‘no precipitation’? When you’re a TV weather forecaster, you have to deal with the mismatch of your specialist vocabulary with that of the meteorological laypeople watching – as well as cover all the weather across … Continue reading 80. Warm Front

Duration:00:18:34

79. Queer

6/3/2018
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Strange or obtuse; a stinging homophobic slur; a radical political rejection of normativity; a broad term encompassing every and any variation on sexual orientation and gender identity: the word ‘queer’ has a multifarious past and complicated present. Tracing its movements are Kathy Tu and Tobin Low from Nancy podcast, Eric Marcus from Making Gay History, historian and author Amy Sueyoshi, and Jonathan … Continue reading 79. Queer

Duration:00:28:38

78. Oot in the Open

5/21/2018
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You are born and raised in a household speaking a language. Then you start going to school, and that language is banned. If you speak it, you’ll be punished physically or psychologically. Across your country, there are people like you who associate their first language with shame, or not even being a language at all. … Continue reading 78. Oot in the Open

Duration:00:26:21

42+43. Survival: The Key rerun

5/4/2018
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To accompany the current Allusionist miniseries Survival, about minority languages facing suppression and extinction, we’re revisiting this double bill of The Key episodes about why languages die and how they can be resuscitated. The Rosetta Stone and its modern equivalent the Rosetta Disk preserve writing systems to be read by future generations. But how do … Continue reading 42+43. Survival: The Key rerun

Duration:00:27:10

77. Survival part 1: Second Home

4/20/2018
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There are two main places in the world where the Welsh language is spoken: Wales, and the Chubut Province in Patagonia. How did this ancient language take root in rural Argentina, 12,000km away from its home base? Find out more about this episode at http://theallusionist.org/survival1. The Allusionist’s online home is http://theallusionist.org. Stay in touch at … Continue reading 77. Survival part 1: Second Home

Duration:00:27:59

76. Across the Pond

4/6/2018
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Pavement/sidewalk; football/soccer; bum bag/fanny pack: we know that the English language is different in the UK and the USA. But why? Linguist Lynne Murphy points out the geographical, cultural and social influences that separate the common language. Find out more about this episode at http://theallusionist.org/across-the-pond. The Allusionist’s online home is http://theallusionist.org. Stay in touch at … Continue reading 76. Across the Pond

Duration:00:25:42

75. Ear Hustling

3/23/2018
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Today we’re going inside to open up the unofficial dictionary of San Quentin state prison, compiled by Earlonne Woods of Ear Hustle podcast. Content note: this episode contains some Adult Terms. Find out more about this episode at http://theallusionist.org/ear-hustling. The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX, a collective of the best podcasts … Continue reading 75. Ear Hustling

Duration:00:17:52

74. Take A Swear Pill

3/9/2018
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CONTENT WARNING: there is swearing in this episode. But the happy news is: swearing is good for you! Dr Emma Byrne, author of Swearing Is Good For You, explains how swearing can be beneficial to your physical health and emotional wellbeing, while Matt Fidler of Very Bad Words podcast gives some tips to ensure you … Continue reading 74. Take A Swear Pill

Duration:00:28:30

73. Supername!

2/23/2018
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Up in the sky: look! It’s an adjective! It’s a noun! It’s…Adjectivenoun! Your friendly neighbourhood superheroes might have thrilling and varied powers and spandex garments, but the way their names are concocted have followed only a handful of formulae in the past 80 years, since Superman sent superheroes soaring. (Yes, alliteration is one such naming formula.) Glen Weldon … Continue reading 73. Supername!

Duration:00:21:47

72. Hey

2/9/2018
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“Hey.” “Going to the supermarket, want me to get you anything?” “Puppies or ice cream?” “What’s your glasses prescription?” “I wanna ***** your *********.” If you’ve used a dating app, maybe you’ve received one of the above messages from a stranger, or sent them. Striking up an interaction with someone is a tricky business. Why … Continue reading 72. Hey

Duration:00:23:11

71. Triumph/Trumpet/Top/Fart

1/26/2018
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It’s a year since Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. And in that year, he’s caused a lot of changes in the job of constitutional law professor Elizabeth Joh of TrumpConLaw podcast – in particular, one verb is now off limits. Plus: Paul Anthony Jones, aka etymologist extraordinaire Haggard … Continue reading 71. Triumph/Trumpet/Top/Fart

Duration:00:21:47

70. Bonus 2017

12/22/2017
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It’s the annual bonus episode. Throughout the year, the people who appear on the show tell me a lot of interesting stuff, not all of which is relevant to the episode they initially appeared in, so I stash it away in preparation for this moment. This year, hear about the history of roller skates, zazzification, … Continue reading 70. Bonus 2017

Duration:00:21:55

69. How the Dickens stole Christmas

12/9/2017
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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-cheeked, full-stomached, fattened-goose, hearty merry “God bless us every one” Christmas? Avery Trufelman and Katie Mingle of 99% Invisible report from the streets of Victorian London at the annual Dickens Christmas Fair … Continue reading 69. How the Dickens stole Christmas

Duration:00:30:35

68. Curse Soup

11/24/2017
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Somebody has really ticked you off. You’re all steamed up inside and you want to vent that rage using words, but you don’t want to confront them directly because you’re either too polite or too cowardly. So do you: A. Subtweet them. B. With your finger, scrawl an insulting message into the dirt on their … Continue reading 68. Curse Soup

Duration:00:17:25