Wherein we find an excuse to recommend a bunch of music to you.

Jump right to:

  • 2:26 Language Thing of the Day: Filler words
  • 14:17 Question 1: How did we get nicknames that don’t seem to make sense? Like how did “Peggy” come out of “Margaret”?
  • 25:26 Question 2: Why do singers’ accents almost always become less intense in their singing voices as opposed to their speaking voices?
  • 37:30 Question 3: How do we change the meaning of a sentence just by changing vocal pitch? Typed-out transcripts can lose the information conveyed by vocal pitch.
  • 1:04:32 Answer to last week’s puzzler
  • 1:07:39 The puzzler: You have moved into a house and want to label your mailbox so that you can get mail. You live at number 12 on the street you have just moved to and want to spell it out in letters: “twelve.” So, you go to the hardware store, but none of the items in the store have labels to tell you what the price is. You get in line with the letters you took, and there are three people in front of you also buying stick-on letters. The first one buys the letters in “one” and pays $2. The second one buys the letters in “two” and pays $3. The third person buys the letters in “eleven” and pays $5. How much will it cost you to buy the letters in the word “twelve”?

Covered in this episode:

  • Filler words in different languages (English, Japanese, ASL), and their discourse function
  • Names and their nickname equivalents: Margaret/Peggy, Theodore/Ted, Richard/Dick, John/Jack
  • Backformed names (e.g. if Nate is short for Nathan, then Kate is short for Kathan)
  • How nicknames are formed in different languages (Russian, Polish, Chinese)
  • What are children if not longitudinal linguistic studies?
  • The Beatles, Whitney Houston, Blink-182, the Ramones
  • Our future as an advice podcast
  • Gilbert & Sullivan
  • Effect of language exposure before birth on babies’ linguistic behavior
  • Netspeak and netiquette in the 2000s
  • gr8, gr9, T9
  • Because Internet and its audiobook version
  • Court transcript style guides of the future
  • How to destroy a stuffed sheep with a lightbulb

Links and other post-show thoughts:

Ask us questions:

Send your questions (text or voice memo) to questions@linguisticsafterdark.com, or find us as @lxadpodcast on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.


Linguistics After Dark is produced by Emfozzing Enterprises. Luca edits, Jenny Sarah transcribed this one, and Sarah Eli did the show notes. Our music is “Covert Affair” by Kevin MacLeod.

And until next time… if you weren’t consciously aware of your tongue in your mouth, now you are :)