The Allusionist

Series produced by The Allusionist

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Small adventures in language with Helen Zaltzman. Part of Radiotopia from PRX. http://theallusionist.org

Small adventures in language with Helen Zaltzman. Part of Radiotopia from PRX. http://theallusionist.org


27 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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Every week since September 1989, a radio station in Finland has broadcast a weekly news bulletin...in Latin.

Bought by KALW and PRX Remix


  • Added: Feb 26, 2015
  • Length: 12:12
  • Purchases: 2
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Remember when 'viral' used to only mean something bad, IE something that would make you ill or destroy your computer?

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Jan 28, 2015
  • Length: 15:05
  • Purchases: 1
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There are many synonyms for 'underwear'. There are many synonyms for the body parts you keep in your underwear. But there's only one word for 'bra'...

  • Added: Jan 15, 2015
  • Length: 13:31
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In late 2014, China announced it was to ban puns. Helen Zaltzman wishes she could ban puns in her own family.

  • Added: Jan 15, 2015
  • Length: 16:21
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Breaking up is hard to do, and it's hard to put into appropriate words. Comedian Rosie Wilby seeks a better term for 'ex', and family law barrister...

  • Added: Mar 06, 2016
  • Length: 18:28
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The 2016 US election isn't going away anytime soon, so let's seek refuge in etymology. Consider the linguistically appropriate age of a senator, an...

  • Added: Feb 25, 2016
  • Length: 36:05
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You're looking for your perfect partner, but dating sites keep matching you with duds. So what do you do? Conduct an elaborate linguistic experimen...

  • Added: Feb 06, 2016
  • Length: 41:57
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Your online dating profile is the latest spin on a 300-year-old tradition of advertising yourself in order to find a spouse, a sexual partner, or s...

  • Added: Feb 03, 2016
  • Length: 41:08
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There’s a language which is said to be the smallest language in the world. It has around 123 words, five vowels, nine consonants, and apparently yo...

Bought by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation


  • Added: Dec 14, 2015
  • Length: 20:24
  • Purchases: 1
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It's cathartic; it's a useful historical record; and it might help you behave better on public transport. Neil Katcher and Dave Nadelberg from Mort...

  • Added: Dec 14, 2015
  • Length: 18:58
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Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer from the podcast Criminal stop by to talk about the linguistic challenges of crime reporting. They also share their...

  • Added: Nov 02, 2015
  • Length: 23:05
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La la la, dum di di dum, a wop bop a loo bop a wop bom bom - what are all those non-words doing masquerading as words in songs? Hrishikesh Hirway f...

  • Added: Oct 24, 2015
  • Length: 13:44
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Naming something after yourself: a grand display of egomania, or the humble willingness to be overshadowed by your own product? Stationery expert J...

  • Added: Oct 24, 2015
  • Length: 17:56
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Why do we all sound like idiots when we talk to babies?

Bought by WCAI / WNAN and PRX Remix


  • Added: Oct 08, 2015
  • Length: 11:37
  • Purchases: 2
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“Talking about music is like dancing about architecture” is a problematic statement: not just because nobody can agree on who came up with it, but ...

Bought by WCAI / WNAN, WABE, and PRX Remix


  • Added: Sep 24, 2015
  • Length: 27:04
  • Purchases: 3
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The messiness of English is the price of its success. It is the most widely spoken language in the world, geographically, being an official languag...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Sep 14, 2015
  • Length: 28:03
  • Purchases: 1
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Words are all over the place. So how do you turn them into fun games? Here to show the way is Leslie Scott, founder of Oxford Games and inventor of...

Bought by WCAI / WNAN and PRX Remix


  • Added: Aug 14, 2015
  • Length: 27:35
  • Purchases: 2
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It’s June; the President of the USA has officially designated it LGBT Pride Month, and there’ll be Pride events around the world. But how did the w...

Bought by WCAI / WNAN, KZMU Moab Community Radio, and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jun 03, 2015
  • Length: 14:08
  • Purchases: 3
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Those words on museum walls that you can't be bothered to read? They're more important than you think...

Bought by WABE and PRX Remix


  • Added: Mar 12, 2015
  • Length: 15:14
  • Purchases: 2
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You'd think you could trust dictionaries, but it turns out, they are riddled with LIES.

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Mar 26, 2015
  • Length: 15:26
  • Purchases: 1