Lauren Gawne is a David Myers Research Fellow at La Trobe University. Her work focuses on understanding how people use grammar and gesture in language, with a particular focus on Tibetan languages in Nepal. She also once wrote a paper about LOLcats. Lauren writes By Lingo, a regular column for The Big Issue in Australia.
Before even starting to translate a work, a translator needs to make several important macro-level decisions, such as whether to more closely follow the literal structure of the text or to adapt more freely, especially if the original text does things that are unfamiliar to readers in the destination language but would be familiar to readers in the original language. In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about the relationship of the translator and the text. We talk about the new, updated translation of Beowulf by Maria Dahvana Headley (affectionately known as the "bro" translation), reading the Tale of Genji in multiple translations, translating conlangs in fiction, and mistranslation on the Scots Wikipedia. Announcements We’re coming up on Lingthusiasm’s fourth anniversary! In celebration, we’re asking you to help people who would totally enjoy listening to fun conversations about linguistics, they just don’t realize it exists yet! Most people still find podcasts through word of mouth, and we’ve seen a significant bump in listens each November when we ask you to help share the show, so we know this works. If you tag us @lingthusiasm on social media in your recommendation post, we will like/retweet/reshare/thank you as appropriate, or if you send a recommendation to a specific person, we won’t know about it but you can still feel a warm glow of satisfaction at helping out (and feel free to still tell us about it on social media if you’d like to be thanked!). Trying to think of what to say? One option is to pick a particular episode that you liked and share a link to that. This month’s bonus episode was about honorifics, words like titles and forms of “you” that express when you’re trying to be extra polite to someone (and which can also be subverted to be rude or intimate). Get access to this and 43 other bonus episodes at This is also a good time to start thinking about linguistics merch and other potential gift ideas (paperback copies of Because Internet, anyone?), in time for them to arrive via the internet, if you’re ordering for the holiday season. Check out the Lingthusiasm merch store at For links mentioned in this episode:
High school is a time when people really notice small social details, such as how you dress or what vowels you’re using. Making choices from among these various factors is a big way that we assert our identities as we’re growing up. For a particular group of students in the UK, they’re on the forefront of linguistic innovation using a variety known as Multicultural London English. In this episode, your host Lauren Gawne interviews Dr. Shivonne Gates, a linguist who wrote her dissertation on Multicultural London English and is currently a Senior Researcher at NatCen Social Research, Britain’s largest independent social research agency. We talk about her research on accents in the UK, doing collaborative research with young people, and linguistics research jobs outside of academia. This month’s bonus episode is about pangrams! Pangrams are sentences that contain all of the letters of the alphabet, like the famous "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" and the more obscure "Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow!". In this episode, Gretchen and Lauren get enthusiastic about pangrams and the further questions that they raise about the structure of various languages. How short can you get an English pangram without becoming incoherent? Which characters are hard to include in different languages? Do accented characters count as separate letters? What kinds of using-every-symbol writing can you make with non-alphabetic writing systems? Announcements: We have teamed up with Crash Course to write the 16 video series Crash Course Linguistics. We’re so excited to share this course with you! If you want to get an email when each of the Crash Course Linguistics videos comes out, along with exercises to practice the concepts and links for further reading, you can sign up for Mutual Intelligibility email newsletters. We also have exciting new merch colours! Our International Phonetic Alphabet scarves and masks, notebooks, mugs, and socks are now available in Raspberry, Mustard, and Lilac with white IPA symbols. For links to everything mentioned in this episode:
Adjectives: they’re big, they’re fun, they’re...maybe non-existent? In English, we have a fairly straightforward category of adjectives: they’re words that can get described with a comparative or a superlative, such as “bigger” or “most fun”. But when we start looking across lots of languages, we find that some languages lump adjectives in with verbs, some with nouns, and some do different things altogether. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about adjectives! We talk about how linguists come up with diagnostic tests to determine whether something is an adjective, other quirks about adjectives (such as why we say “big red ball” but not “red big ball”), and the galaxy-brain question of whether grammatical categories like adjectives are even valid across all languages. -- This month’s bonus episode is about doing LingComm on a budget - plus the Lingthusiasm origin story! We got started doing linguistics communication when we were both broke grad students. We talk about the various stages we went through with launching our blogs, Superlinguo and All Things Linguistic, and of course this podcast a few years later! We give tips on how to come up with a topic, set a schedule, and promote your project, as well as the nitty-gritty details on free or low-cost ways to do things like registering a website and starting a blog, podcast, or youtube channel. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to get access to this and 40 other bonus episodes, and to chat with fellow lingthusiasts in the Lingthusiasm patron Discord Announcements: By popular demand, our IPA, Tree and Esoteric Symbol designs are now available on these new non-medical reusable fabric masks from Redbubble. On our store you’ll find the white IPA characters on black, red or navy, and the esoteric symbols in white on black or green on black. If you fancy another colour, or the tree design, we’ve made masks available on all of the scarf pages. Also check out our Schwa (Never Stressed) pins, IPA scarves, IPA socks, and more at RedBubble For links to everything mentioned in this episode go to:
How are you? Thanks, no problem. Stock, ritualistic social phrases like these, which are used more to indicate a particular social context rather than for the literal meaning of the words inside have a name in linguistics -- they’re called phatics! In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about the social dance of phatic expressions. We talk about common genres of phatics, including greetings, farewells, and thanking; how ordinary phrases come to take on a social meaning versus how existing phatic expressions can become literal again; and how phatics differ across languages and mediums, including speech, letters, email, and social media. This month’s bonus episode is about music and linguistics! Both speech and music can involve making sounds using the human body, but they also have differences. Different cultures highlight the similarities and differences between music and language in various ways, which we’ve received lots of questions about! In this episode, we talk about how languages with tone deal differently with matching up those tones to musical pitches, mapping drums and whistles onto language sounds in order to communicate across long distances, using linguistics to analyze genres of music like opera and beatboxing, and that time Gretchen went on holiday and actually ended up getting a demonstration of the whistled language Silbo Gomero. Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to get access to this and 40 other bonus episodes, and to chat with fellow lingthusiasts in the Lingthusiasm patron Discord. Announcements: Gretchen’s book about internet language, Because Internet, is available in paperback! It includes a section on phatic expressions in email and social media as well as lots of other things about how we talk to each other online, including emoji, memes, what internet generation you belong to, a small cameo from Lauren and Lingthusiasm, and more! You can also still get the audiobook version, read by Gretchen herself (no Lauren though, sorry). It also makes a great gift for anyone you communicate with online. For links to things mentioned in this episode:
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