The Allusionist

Adventures in language with Helen Zaltzman.

Eine durchschnittliche Folge dieses Podcasts dauert 18m. Bisher sind 147 Folge(n) erschienen. Dieser Podcast erscheint jede zweite Woche.

Gesamtlänge aller Episoden: 2 days 1 hour 20 minutes


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134. Lacuna

If you were in Brazil during the military dictatorship of 1964-1985, tried to bake a cake from a recipe in the newspaper, and were served with a sorry mess that tasted disgustingly salty, it wasn't your fault. What you thought was a recipe was actually a message from the newspaper that they were being censored...



133. Cake is Mighter than the Sword

What to do to stick it to the powers that be? Send your message through something they really care about: cake. In Buenos Aires, local tour guides Madi Lang and Juan Palacios introduce me to priest's balls and little cannons, the pastries laced with the sweet taste of 1880s trade union protests. There are a few swears and saucy references in this episode. Find more information about the topics in this episode at  The music is by Martin Austwick...



132. Additions and Losses

"Sometimes I've heard people talk about losing a child and people say it's like losing a limb. And as someone who's lost both things, I just want to say, the realities are very different." Musician and writer Christa Couture has experienced way too much of people trying to convey sympathy and instead expressing their discomfort about disability and death.  Content note: we talk about ableism, cancer and bereavement...


 2021-03-12  31m

131. Podlingual

In their podcasts Mija and Moonface, Lory Martinez and James Kim create autobiographical fiction in multiple languages.  There are a few swears in this episode. Find out more about this episode at and hear the whole conversation, and the others in the series, on Scripps College's podcast feed.  The music is by Martin Austwick. Hear Martin’s own songs at palebirdmusic...


 2021-02-26  32m

130. Valentine

St Valentine's name may nowadays be all over the romance-related merch for 14 February, but he was also the patron saint of beekeepers, epilepsy and plagues. Let's get to know this multi-hyphenate saint a bit better. Find out more about topics covered in this episode at All the information in this episode is real, even though it sounds like it's not. The music is by Martin Austwick. Hear Martin’s own songs at palebirdmusic...


 2021-02-14  18m

129. Sorry

Apologies are such important verbal transactions. So why are so many of them soooo bad? Susan McCarthy and Marjorie Ingalls from SorryWatch and Laura Beaudin of pinpoint what to look out for, to sort the apologies from the fauxpologies. There’s more about this episode at The music is by Martin Austwick. Hear Martin’s own songs at or search for Pale Bird on Bandcamp and Spotify, and he’s @martinaustwick on Twitter and Instagram...


 2021-01-31  35m

128. Bonus 2020

Some choice cuts from the Allusionist vault of interesting things that guests said that there wasn’t room for in the original episodes


 2020-12-24  31m

127. A Festive Hit for 2020

The usual canon of Christmas songs may not really fit people's moods in this year 2020, when I'm not sure a lot of us are feeling all that holly jolly. So I drafted in singer and songwriter Jenny Owen Youngs and we wrote a festive song that is suitable for 2020. Content note: there are swears. Several of them.


 2020-12-14  30m

126. Survival: Custodians of the Languages

In Australia, there were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of languages. Until English arrived.


 2020-11-28  29m

125. Swearalong Quiz

Fill your lungs and get ready to shout out some profane answers: it’s the Swearlusionist Swearalong Quiz!


 2020-11-10  13m