The Allusionist

Adventures in language with Helen Zaltzman.

Eine durchschnittliche Folge dieses Podcasts dauert 18m. Bisher sind 136 Folge(n) erschienen. Dies ist ein zweiwöchentlich erscheinender Podcast

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123. Celebrity

Celebrity used to mean a solemn occasion; X factor was algebraic; and fame was a huge terrifying Godzilla-like beast with many many tongues.



122. Ghostwriter

The word for ‘ghostwriter’ in French is a racist slur. How did THAT come about? And what can French-speakers say instead?



121. No Title

In 2014, a seemingly trivial and boring incident at the bank propelled me down a linguistic road via medieval werewolves, Ms Marvel and confusingly inscribed gravestones, to find out why the English language is riddled with all this gender. What’s it FOR? How did it GET there? Will it go AWAY now please?


 2020-09-14  58m

Tranquillusionist: Home and Garden

This is the Tranquillusionist, in which I, Helen Zaltzman, quell anxiety and calm brain frenzies by replacing your interior monologue with words detached from significance. In this case: the list of HGTV original programming, and lawnmower adverts from before I was born.


 2020-08-28  20m

The Away Team redux

the language of migration


 2020-08-18  20m

120. Shine Theory

It’s great when you coin a phrase that really resonates with people, right? Until they start using it for businesses and ventures that are at odds with the meaning of it… Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, hosts of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend and authors of the new book Big Friendship, talk about what their term Shine Theory really means and what they had to do to keep it that way.


 2020-07-30  18m

119. Blood Is Not Water

The Yiddish word for ‘black’ is, in certain uses, a slur. So Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell, Arun Viswanath and Jonah Boyarin teamed up to translate Black Lives Matter without it.


 2020-07-15  25m

118. Survival: Bequest

When the Europeans arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand, as well as guns, stoats and Christianity, they brought ideas of cisgender monogamous heterosexuality that were imposed upon the M?ori people as if there had never been anything else. But one word proved otherwise.


 2020-07-04  28m

117. Many Ways At Once

The Scots language didn’t have much of a lexicon of LGBTQ+ terminology. So writer and performer Dr Harry Josephine Giles decided to create one.


 2020-06-15  17m

116. My Dad Excavated A Porno

The word ‘pornography’ arrived in English in the 1840s so upper class male archaeologists could talk about the sexual art they found in Pompeii without anyone who wasn’t an upper class male archaeologist knowing about it.


 2020-06-03  30m