Six new language podcasts

Podcasts have become a bigger part of my media consumption than I expected they would. I’ll stick to linguistic ones here, in keeping with the blog’s theme. New ones keep appearing, leading to dilemmas in time management, but it’s a happy kind of dilemma.

Here, in alphabetical order, are a handful of good language podcasts that entered the scene in 2019–2020. Episode lengths, given in parentheses, are approximate.

The Black Language Podcast, by Black millennial Anansa Benbow, explores Black people’s language (mostly English) in terms of its politics, pragmatics, grammar, and style, demonstrating its beauty and complexity. Episodes so far are more or less monthly. (20–30 min)

The Language Revolution, by British linguist Cate Hamilton, focuses on language education, particularly learning new languages (at any age): how it happens, why it’s good for you, how languages are taught, and so on. Interviews include David Crystal and Michael Rosen. (20–75 min)

Lexis, from a group of linguists in the UK, is a kind of informal public-facing sociolinguistics. It comprises broad and informed discussion and interviews on topics such as language education, language attitudes, and linguistics in the news. I have a cameo in ep. 9. (30–60 min)

Standing on Points is a cultural history of punctuation by Dr Florence Hazrat, who specializes in ‘literary form and how it plays together with social-historical environments’. Episodes are expansive explorations of punctuation norms, forms, and development. (30–90 min)

Subtitle, by Patrick Cox and Kavita Pillay, ‘tells stories of our obsessions with language’. This allows for a diverse range of ideas and topics to be explored through a personal lens, such as pandemic metaphors, the Finnish concept of sisu, and Gullah Geechee. (15–30 min)

Word Matters is a weekly podcast by a team of Merriam-Webster editors. Episodes are lighthearted and short, but still roomy enough to dig into thorny usage issues and fascinating etymologies. They also offers a glimpse into working life at a major dictionary. (15–30 min)

That’ll keep you going for a while, unless you’ve already heard them all, in which case try browsing Lauren Gawne’s giant list of language podcasts at Superlinguo.

In the video below, Gawne chats about language podcasting with Lingthusiasm co-host Gretchen McCulloch and two other favourites: The Vocal Fries, aka Megan Figueroa and Carrie Gillon, and Because Language’s Daniel Midgley and Hedvig Skirgård (formerly Talk the Talk).


16 Responses to Six new language podcasts

  1. Ella says:

    thank you for this Stan!

  2. Franc says:

    There’s one that I like a lot that’s not on your list, though I imagine you might well be aware of it and that’s the BBC Radio 4 programme Word of Mouth, which was originally created and presented by Frank Delaney, and has since been presented by Michael Rosen. It can be downloaded as a podcast. He also contributes articles on educational matters for the Guardian newspaper, but unfortunately, he has been very ill with covid lately.
    It’s perhaps a bit off the subject here , but I think it’s worth pointing out that Frank Delaney, among the many other things that he did in his long career, presented an important series of documentary programmes entitled “The Celts” for the BBC, which is still available on DVD or on Youtube.

    • Stan Carey says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Franc. Yes, I like the BBC’s Word of Mouth programme – Rosen does great work. I didn’t include it here because the post is about new language podcasts, and Word of Mouth has been on the go since the mid-2000s, I think. Maybe you’ll also enjoy one of the podcasts featured here.

      Frank Delaney had quite the career all right. I have a copy of Ulysses that he sent me for winning a competition on Twitter to describe Joyce’s book in a tweet. =)

  3. astraya says:

    Just in case we don’t have enough to read, watch or listen to already!

  4. Thanks for the news of these podcasts. I’m wondering how I missed Word Matters when I get M-W’s Word of the Day e-mails.

    Is there any word in the UK on whether Michael Rosen (who had COVID-19) is likely to return to Word of Mouth? Guest hosts were filling in for a while, but there hasn’t been a new episode with any host in some time.

    • Stan Carey says:

      You’re welcome, Michael. The podcast is featured on the M-W home page, but you have to scroll down a ways to see it. I heard about it from some of its contributors on Twitter. It’s an excellent show.

      I didn’t know Michael Rosen’s current status as regards Word of Mouth, so thanks from me too to Franc for the video below, which I just watched.

  5. Franc Bell says:

    Well here’s the man himself explaining it all –

  6. […] On the importance of legitimizing Black English, by linguist Anansa Benbow, who featured in my recent post about six new language podcasts: […]

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