Caleb Everett – A Myriad of Tongues: How Languages Reveal Differences in How We Think

The Dissenter | 11 March 2024 | 0h 56m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Caleb Everett about his book A Myriad of Tongues: How Languages Reveal Differences in How We Think. Discusses how people sometimes assume too much universality in language, and where linguistic diversity stems from; how people talk about time, numbers, space and directions, social relationships, and colours and odours; how the environment influences the evolution of languages, focusing on the example of extreme ambient aridity, and whistled languages; the limitations of studying grammatical patterns in idealized and written sentences; whether words are arbitrary, and if we can accurately translate every word and expression; the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and the broader study of universality and diversity in human cognition.

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Valerie Fridland – Like, Literally, Dude: Arguing for the Good in Bad English

The Dissenter | 21 August 2023 | 1h 43m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Valerie Fridland about her book Like, Literally, Dude: Arguing for the Good in Bad English. Discusses what people call “bad” English, the history of standardization and prescription in English, how grammar rules are mostly arbitrary; how women and low-status people drive linguistics change; what gender has to do with how we speak; the uses of filled pauses like “um” and “uh”, the uses of “like”, “I mean”, “you know”, and “so”; the meaning of “dude”, and “literally”; whether words have any intrinsic meaning; the current proposal of using “they/them” as singular personal pronouns to refer to non-binary people; and removing/banning words from classic books.

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Tai-Danae Bradley on Algebra, Topology, Language, and Entropy

Sean Carroll’s Mindscape | 23 November 2021 | 1h 21m | Listen Later | iTunes | Spotify
Interview with Tai-Danae Bradley discussing her work using mathematical ideas from areas like category theory, topology, and quantum probability theory to analyze real-world phenomena like the structure of natural-language speech. A masterclass in the crisp communication of complex ideas.

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The Language of Thieves

Constant Wonder | 14 January 2021 | 0h 52m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with Martin Puchner about his book The Language of Thieves: My Family’s Obsession with a Secret Code the Nazis Tried to Eliminate. Discusses his family’s history trying to preserve Rotwelsch, the secret language of thieves in the heart of Europe.

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Erich Jarvis on Language, Birds, and People

Sean Carroll’s Mindscape | 14 December 2020 | 1h 15m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with Erich Jarvis comparing vocal learning in birds and other animals with humans. Argues that there is a particular mental circuit in the brains of parrots (for example) responsible for vocal learning, and that it corresponds to similar circuits in the human brain. Discusses the implications for the development of intelligence and other important human characteristics.

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Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language

The Ezra Klein Show | 25 November 2019 | 1h 22m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with Gretchen McCulloch, author of Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language. Explains that the way we’ve come to speak on the internet – from emojis to exclamation points – is not random or arbitrary, but part of a broader attempt to make our written communication more vibrant, meaningful, and, genuinely human. Far from ‘ruining’ the written English language, internet-speak, McCulloch argues, is revolutionizing language in unprecedented, and ultimately positive, ways.

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How We Can Learn to Stop Worrying and Love Language

The Guardian Books Podcast | 6 August 2019 | 0h 35m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interviews with David Shariatmadari, author of Don’t Believe a Word: The Surprising Truth About Language and Cecelia Watson, author of Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark. Insights on language and punctuation.

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