Our very first episode, answering real language questions from real listeners! And boy do we live up to our no-research policy. (What is the truth about bubblers? TEACH THE CONTROVERSY!)

Jump right to:

  • 00:43 Thing of the Day: Ambiguity (…or is it?)
  • 04:28 In the English word ⟨scent⟩, is the ⟨s⟩ or the ⟨c⟩ silent?
  • 11:50 Has our study of linguistics caused us to consciously change how we talk?
  • 25:48 How should you pluralize superhero names?
  • 34:37 Can “informal” mean “giving information to the reader” along with “not formal”?
  • 39:30 The Puzzler: Can you find a word that has three double letters in a row?

Covered in this episode:

  • Fun with affixes!
  • English “soft c” spelling rules
  • Awkward teenage spelling reform phases
  • A hot take not taken
  • Obligatory (incorrect) citation of the Martha’s Vineyard accent study
  • How to tell if you should study linguistics
  • Obligatory mention of “bubbler”
  • Why is “bubbler” localised SO SPECIFICALLY?
  • Everyone needs to see Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
  • Hot takes on Spider-Men, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Attorney General
  • In-laws and Sinlaws
  • Obligatory Latin-based explanations
  • ⟨bassoon⟩ and ⟨balloon⟩ are basically the same word

Links and other post-show thoughts:

  • We have no link to back up Sarah’s assertion that ⟨sc⟩ makes an [ʃ] sound in Late Latin and modern Italian, despite a wide search. However, ⟨conscious⟩ is an English word where ⟨sc⟩ makes an [ʃ] sound, so that’s almost as good.
  • The Nantucket study, which was actually done in Martha’s Vineyard (no research, y’all)
  • Confirmed: Kohler is a town named after the company named after the founding family
  • Bubbler is related to a Kohler trademark
  • Bubbler is not related to a Kohler trademark
  • I don’t know what to think about bubbler anymore (They exist in Portland, OR, too!)
  • Fun fact: Sarah heard “Spider-Mans” in the wild the week after we recorded this podcast, explaining that “Into the Spider-Verse” has six total “Spider-Mans”. Native speaker intuition for the win!
  • Etymologies of inform versus informal
  • Turns out that ⟨informative⟩ ALSO used to be an inflammable-style contranym! (Well, sort of. It used to mean ⟨formative⟩. What even.)


Linguistics After Dark is produced by Emfozzing Enterprises. Eli edits, Jenny transcribes, and Sarah does show notes. Our music is “Covert Affair” by Kevin McLeod.