Helen Zaltzman milks the udders of language
May 16, 2015 3:31 AM   Subscribe

The Allusionist is a language podcast with a etymological focus by podcaster and linguist Helen Zaltzman. The episodes are about fifteen minutes long and the ones so far have focused on political terms, spaces between words, crosswords, fake dictionary entries, museum display text, latin, curse words [explicit], the term viral, bras, but perhaps it's best to start with the first episode, where Zaltzman interviews her brother Andy on the subject of puns. The Extra Allusionism blog is also worth reading.
posted by Kattullus (13 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
The Allusionist is already being regularly posted to FanFare by jazon.
posted by Kattullus at 3:31 AM on May 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was really close to posting this when she did the swear words episode just for the sheer gloriousness of hearing Jesse Thorn say 'cunt'.

I'm a long time Answer Me This fan and I adore this newer podcast too.
posted by shelleycat at 3:55 AM on May 16, 2015

I'm a listener to all things Zaltzman, including, until recently, her brother Andy Zaltzman's Bugle thing with that John Oliver fellow, but I guess fame and fortune has killed it. Maybe the Zaltzman's should team up for something.
posted by pracowity at 5:28 AM on May 16, 2015

The Bugle is still around. The episode from last week about the British elections was fun! In a I'm glad I don't live in England way. The website hasn't been updated recently but the podcast feed has new episodes.
posted by JDHarper at 5:46 AM on May 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

A new episode. Sigh.
posted by wotsac at 7:00 AM on May 16, 2015

Back on topic - I'm still waiting for this podcast to gel. I totally agree with shelleycat but once we were past the pilot episodes it's felt a bit flaccid.
posted by wotsac at 7:04 AM on May 16, 2015

Somehow when I listen to this podcast, I get the impression that I'm not really hearing an interview. Something about the cadence or tone of her subject often does not fit. It sounds like she recorded a conversation, then later extracted interesting things that the subject said, and recorded herself asking a question or making a statement that might have possibly prompted that interesting snippet from the subject.

Does anyone else get that impression ever?
posted by rustcrumb at 8:21 AM on May 16, 2015

I have enjoyed Answer Me This for a long while and was excited that Helen was branching out on her own. It's been an uneven start, but I think as she continues on The Allusionist will get better and better. I think she carving out her own space between the "hidden history hipster" style of 99% Invisible and the "ooo nifty overproduced" world of Radio Lab. I also wonder how much our (my) US-centric view colors my perception of her UK-centric presentation. Still, I look forward to a new The Allusionist each fortnight.
posted by jazon at 8:21 AM on May 16, 2015

I recently stumbled across this podcast, and I love it. Not only is it really interesting, Helen Zaltzman comes off as someone who would be really, really fun to hang out with in a pub.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:44 AM on May 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this. It's fairly good.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 10:13 AM on May 16, 2015

Does anyone else get that impression ever?

I never did for what it's worth. I wonder if it's somewhat cultural? Because the whole thing just sounds really English to me, so I expect it to be kind of weirdly stilted and stuff because English.
posted by shelleycat at 10:36 AM on May 16, 2015

hmp..I listened to several of the podcasts and found them neither stilted nor spliced.

I would like to know how the Saltzmans developed their love language, though!
posted by bird internet at 3:54 PM on May 16, 2015

That's my lunch breaks sorted for the next few days. Thanks!
posted by Gordafarin at 6:17 AM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

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