Wherein we KISS-FIST linguistics.

Jump right to:

  • 3:15 Linguistics Thing Of The Day: Garden path sentences
  • 25:05 How do (in)formal registers change over time; do they stairstep as we invent new informal registers and then everything bumps up a notch and the old formal registers fall off as “staid”, or is it nonuniform?
  • 37:21 Audio question! Is linguistics a science? Is it a prestigious science? Why or why not?
  • 58:03 What are your favorite words that don’t have an English equivalent or cannot be translated into English?
  • 1:18:18 The puzzler: Think of an informal term for a beverage. Now say it in pig Latin, and you’ll have an informal term for another beverage. What two beverages are these?

Covered in this episode:

  • The beverage fandom
  • The euphemism treadmill
  • Real-time language processing
  • How Sarah likes syntactic ambiguity more than most people
  • Linguists are not (necessarily) translators
  • Linguistics is not physics
  • Yoinking words from language to language
  • Are toilets pieces of furniture?

Links and other post-show thoughts:

  • The headline “Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms” was actually spotted by American editor Mike O’Connell and shared to a linguistics forum, where another member, Dan Bloom, suggested “crash blossoms” as a term, as summarized on the Language Log and expanded on by the New York Times
  • XKCD #435: Purity about applied sciences
  • XKCD #2381: The True Name Of The Bear about the euphemism treadmill
  • That diagram Sarah mentioned about all the branches of linguistics
  • McGill professors Lisa deMena Travis and Jessica Coon’s offices were used as references for Arrival as described on the Language Log here, here, here, and here
  • SciComm people we named who you should look up: Vihart, Matt Parker, Numberphile for math. Brian Green, Michio Kaku, Brian Cox for physics. Language Log, John McWhorter, Gretchen McCulloch, Lauren Gawne for linguistics. English usage, Brian Garner and Grammar Girl.

Ask us questions:

Send your questions (text or voice memo) to questions@linguisticsafterdark.com, or find us as @lxadpodcast on all the usual socials.


Linguistics After Dark is produced by Emfozzing Enterprises. Edits by Luca, transcript by Jenny, show notes by Sarah. 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 :)