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The Allusionist

Author: Helen Zaltzman for Radiotopia

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Linguistic adventures with Helen Zaltzman, TheAllusionist.org.

A proud member of Radiotopia from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.
102 Episodes
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97. The Future is Now?
“There are two ways to say ‘The future is now’: you can say it optimistically, like, ‘The future is now! Isn't that cool?’ Or you could be like, ‘The future is now, and we're totally screwed.’” Rose Eveleth, of the future-envisioning podcast Flash Forward, tracks the past and present of one of her favourite phrases.Find out more about this episode at theallusionist.org/future.The all new Allusionist live show, No Title, is touring in New Zealand and Australia. Visit theallusionist.org/events for information about venues, dates and tickets for shows in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and a couple more TBA Australian cities.The Allusionist's online home is theallusionist.org. Stay in touch at twitter.com/allusionistshow, facebook.com/allusionistshow and instagram.com/allusionistshow.The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX, a collective of the finest podcasts on the interwaves. Find them all at radiotopia.fm.In April 2019, the Allusionist is sponsored by: • Squarespace, your one-stop shop for creating and running a good-looking and well-working website. Go to squarespace.com/allusion for a free trial, and use the code ALLUSION to get 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain.• Bombas, socks that won’t let you - or themselves - down. Buy your expertly engineered socks at bombas.com/allusionist and get 20% off your first purchase.• Babbel, the app that teaches you a new language with confidence. If you’re in the USA, text ALLUSIONIST to 484848 to try a Babbel lesson for free.

97. The Future is Now?

2019-04-1100:16:511

96. Trust
“Trust isn't a brand that you should use. It's a social glue that, when it breaks down, has really huge consequences to our lives.” Trust expert and author Rachel Botsman explains why we need to protect this word that has remained steadfast throughout its existence, but may now be too popular for its own good.Find out more about this episode at theallusionist.org/trust.The all new Allusionist live show, No Title, is heading to New Zealand! Tickets for Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are on sale now; find out more at theallusionist.org/events. Australia: you’ll be our next stop.The Allusionist's online home is theallusionist.org. Stay in touch at twitter.com/allusionistshow, facebook.com/allusionistshow and instagram.com/allusionistshow.The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX, a collective of the finest podcasts on the interwaves. Find them all at radiotopia.fm.In March 2019, the Allusionist is sponsored by: • Squarespace, your one-stop shop for creating and running a good-looking and well-working website. Go to squarespace.com/allusion for a free trial, and use the code ALLUSION to get 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain.• Bombas, socks that won’t let you - or themselves - down. Buy your expertly engineered socks at bombas.com/allusionist and get 20% off your first purchase.• Molekule, a complete reinvention of the air purifier. For $75 off your first order, use the discount code ALLUSIONIST at the checkout at molekule.com.• American Masters, the PBS podcast featuring new conversations with contemporary artists and cultural figures, along with a mix of previously unreleased interviews from the award-winning documentary film series. Subscribe in your podgatherer of choice.

96. Trust

2019-03-2600:20:296

95. Verisimilitude
When you’re watching a fantasy or science fiction show, and the characters are speaking a language that does not exist in this world but sounds like it could - that doesn’t happen by accident, or improvisation. A lot - a LOT! - of work goes into inventing new languages that sound real. Conlanger David Peterson talks about how he created languages for HBO’s Game of Thrones.Find out more about this episode at theallusionist.org/verisimilitude.The Allusionist's online home is theallusionist.org. Stay in touch at twitter.com/allusionistshow and facebook.com/allusionistshow.The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX, a collective of the finest podcasts on the interwaves. Find them all at radiotopia.fm.In March 2019, the Allusionist is sponsored by: • Squarespace, your one-stop shop for creating and running a good-looking and well-working website. Go to squarespace.com/allusion for a free trial, and use the code ALLUSION to get 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain.• Babbel, the no.1 selling language-learning app in the world. Try it for free at babbel.com or download the Babbel app.• The Proprioceptive Writing Center. Find out about the upcoming West Coast USA courses in this meditative writing practice at pwriting.org.• Molekule, a complete reinvention of the air purifier. For $75 off your first order, use the discount code ALLUSIONIST at the checkout at molekule.com.

95. Verisimilitude

2019-03-1100:29:3515

94. Harsh Realm

2019-02-2200:28:498

92. To Err Is Human
If you wince when you hear someone say “a whole nother level”, “hone in on” or “right from the gecko”, here’s some bad news: you might have to get used to it. The English language is full of words and expressions that were mistakes that stuck around. Countdown’s Susie Dent holds our hands and takes us on a tour of misspellings, mishearings, scrambled letters and bear cubs.In the new Minillusionist at the end of the episode, we’re back on your favourite subject: swearing! And why the blazes are there all these fake acronym etymologies for swears?Find out more about this episode at theallusionist.org/err.Follow Susie Dent on Twitter @susie_dent for regular doses of etymology, and to keep up with her writing and tour dates.The Allusionist's online home is theallusionist.org. Stay in touch at twitter.com/allusionistshow and facebook.com/allusionistshow.The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX, a collective of the finest podcasts on the interwaves. Find them all at radiotopia.fm.In January 2019, the Allusionist is sponsored by: • Squarespace, your one-stop shop for creating and running a good-looking and well-working website. Go to squarespace.com/allusion for a free trial, and use the code ALLUSION to get 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain.• Babbel, the no.1 selling language-learning app in the world. Try it for free at babbel.com or download the Babbel app.

92. To Err Is Human

2019-01-2400:19:2514

91. Bonus 2018
Throughout the year, the people who appear on the Allusionist 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: the annual bonus episode! Get ready for gory 19th century London slang, the rise and fall of superhero capes, the post-WW1 trend for nudism, and more.Find out more about this episode at http://theallusionist.org/bonus2018.There is one swear in this episode.The Allusionist is a member of Radiotopia from PRX, a collective of the best podcasts on the interwaves. Hear all the shows at http://radiotopia.fm – and if you can afford to help our shows keep going, become a donor in our 2018 fundraiser at https://www.radiotopia.fm/donate-2018z.The Allusionist’s online home is http://theallusionist.org. Stay in touch at http://twitter.com/allusionistshow and http://facebook.com/allusionistshow. And come to see the debut performance of the brand new Allusionist 2019 live show at SF Sketchfest, 7.30pm 25 January! Tickets are on sale now: https://tinyurl.com/allusionistSFsketchfest2019Thanks to today’s sponsors:SQUARESPACE. Design and run a website with ease using Squarespace. Go to squarespace.com/allusion for a free trial, and for 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain, use the code ALLUSION.MYTHOLOGIES. Subscribe to the new Mythologies podcast from Parcast in your podblaster of choice, or find it at parcast.com/mythology.

91. Bonus 2018

2018-12-1600:18:509

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Comments (50)

Eric Anderson

a prank is burying a car in snow. convincing your mom of something not true is lying

Feb 24th
Reply

Eric Anderson

flippity flop is that weird? they used to say "bully" for "right on" in England. or "sick" for awesome in the 90s

Feb 24th
Reply

Eric Anderson

of course he didn't fact check, it was an unimportant vocab article, why would he suspect lies?

Feb 24th
Reply

Eric Anderson

maybe it was that they trusted their source and Megan outright lied. she took advantage of them. and she lies to British news too?

Feb 24th
Reply

Adam Gelatt

hell yeah

Feb 22nd
Reply

Luke Baylie

Clarke Gable did work as a lumber Jack in his youth.

Feb 13th
Reply

Eric Anderson

words can have subtleties and nuances of meaning of course but when does a word cease to be that word? gossip may contain some truth but inherently the word means not trustworthy and damaging. I am disagreeing with the guest who proposed that perhaps gossip should be taken more seriously as sometimes it turns out to be factual, well then it ceases to be gossip. we can't determine if a second or third or such hand story is gossip or not right away but again intrinsically gossip means it is not true. I am viewing this more in a pragmatic way than a historical-development lens.

Feb 11th
Reply

Eric Anderson

Luke Baylie blah blah blah idiot ramblings blah blah blah

Mar 12th
Reply

Luke Baylie

Eric Anderson if you listen to the episode, as I said in the very first post. it's very clear why I asked you if you would listen to the episode. Everything you said in your first post was refuted clearly by the actual origins of the word. I'm sorry you're too daft a cunt to understand language. I made my point in my first response. I have no time or need or urge to interact with your ignorant ass any further. Good day

Mar 11th
Reply

Anyssa Ball

I knew aglet because of Phineas and Ferb

Dec 20th
Reply

Addy Gator

I love the show! You're the wordiest gal on my playlist. I can't get enough word knowledge. Thank you for being awesome!

Nov 13th
Reply

Richard Napolitano

Nobody other than J.R.R. Tolkien created the multiple versions of elven languages used in Lord of the Rings. He was a linguistic expert and made all of the languages used in the LOTR universe.

Nov 7th
Reply

Kyle Miller

I love this episode. I've listened to it repeatedly!

Nov 3rd
Reply

Cheesecake Lasagna

I haven't even heard a single clippet from this podcast but the visuals got me already! Graphic designer-orgasmic. lol

Oct 3rd
Reply

Lisa Liggins

E.11. Dan sounds just like Stephen Colbert. I couldn't get over it.

Sep 8th
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Miaozi Li

I would say "I meh the Beatles"

Aug 25th
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Luke Baylie

imagineer! I recently got to hang out with one. Very interesting guy. From Disney to NASA he's made some cool stuff

May 19th
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Ellen Broadley

l it it l it I you like

May 13th
Reply

Tom Dalliston

is this episode directly copied from word of mouth on BBC radio 4?

Jan 10th
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iTunes User

I listened to the first two podcasts and was amazed as its witty fun and has a lot of little history info in each segment that shows how much work the podcaster put into research, yet it's edited down into a quick 15 -20 minute session in case you have a short attention span so that there is no danger of you having to rewind because your mind wandered off somewhere! Looking forward to the third podcast! Bruce

Aug 30th
Reply

iTunes User

What a voice, what fun: quick and quick-witted podcasts that pack so much into so few minutes.

Aug 30th
Reply

iTunes User

Yes! We've finally got a podcaster who doesn't mince words in her practice of mincing their meanings. More than just linguistics, The Allusionist takes a crack at history, culture and current affairs with a cheeky wit that almost smarts. Worst thing about this podcast is the wait—2 weeks between episodes? Oh where will I get my word on till then? Maybe if I listen to Lexicon Valley at double speed mashed up with reruns of Language Bites, then I'll come close, but really Helen, must you be so allusive? Yes, you must. Best new pod of 2015!

Aug 30th
Reply
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