Cool stuff about words

June 2021


We’ve seen some fantastic posts promoting the pronunciation of common te reo Māori words on social media this year. Have you seen them? The posts are visually-simple examples of English (or borrowed-into-English) words, and show us that if we can say those words, we can correctly pronounce te reo words involving similar sounds (linguists, be nice).

Here's an example we saw on Facebook (but we've seen it on other platforms too). We highly recommend you take a look and spread the word!

#learn our names

Wordy pods

Steph loves a good podcast about words – here are some of her top recommendations.

#1: The Allusionist (Helen Zaltzman)

This podcast definitely lives up to its claim of adventures in language. Helen covers a massive range of interesting, relatable and debatable topics including puns, crosswords, lies in dictionaries (what!), baby talk, pride, swearing, food, spooky words, weird words, apologies, word origin, language and culture, language shift and more.

Each episode is around 20 to 30 minutes long, delivered with a delightfully enchanting British accent. It’s way too easy to learn impressively cool stuff about words with this podcast.

#2: The Vocal Fries (Carrie Gillon and Megan Figueroa)

This podcast focuses on linguistic discrimination. Each episode, Carrie and Megan talk to academics and working professionals about the language challenges, barriers and prejudice within their domains. It can get quite deep, often centred around conversations covering complex topics like race, beliefs, perceived intelligence, sexuality, identity, and more. However, there are a lot of upbeat, positive, interesting messages in this podcast too.

Episodes vary from around 30 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes.

#3: Lingthusiam (Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne)

This is another podcast that covers a wide variety of wordy topics. However, it often focuses on the more formal, structural side of language. If you’re interested in learning more about the technical nerdy stuff, like sounds, negation, grammar, translation, parts of speech, parts of words, inventing words, accents and more, this is the podcast for you.

Episodes are usually around 30 minutes long, and it’s fun listening to the friendly banter between the American and Australian hosts.

Bonus wildcard pod: Linguistics Lounge (Massey University)

Disclaimer: at the time of writing, I haven’t listened to this podcast yet. But I absolutely should – not only as a Massey linguistics alumna, but as someone who feels slightly afraid and uncomfortable about why I’m so fascinated by Dr Ashley Bloomfield. This podcast promises to shed light on that mystery, so I’m sold! Adding to playlist.

See what Massey has to say about their new podcast, and let’s support Kiwis doing great things!

Linguistics podcast unravels the allure of Ashley

Time to update those wordy arsenals (your dictionaries)!

Language shifts and changes at astonishing speed, with the influence of everything going on in the busy, complicated world around us. We consistently come up with new words, or gift new meaning to current words, or stop using words altogether. So, it’s no surprise that reputable dictionaries have dedicated teams of language experts and researchers working hard to update their dictionary often.

Are you up to date with the newest words and phrases your dictionary of choice has recently made official?

Here are a couple of recent blog posts from the Oxford English Dictionary, summarising highlights from their March 2021 and June 2021 dictionary updates. Which new words or new meanings do you think made the cut? Take a look – you'll recognise a lot of current hot topics.

Each update alone includes at least 700 new or revised entries. Wow!

OED March 2021 update

OED June 2021 update

Teasers: negging, deadname, bubble, -palooza, festie, oh my days!