Lingthusiasm Episode 60: That’s the kind of episode it’s - clitics

A new episode of Lingthusiasm!

Click here to listen to Episode 60: That’s the kind of episode it’s - clitics

Here’s a completely normal and unremarkable sentence. Let’s imagine we have two different coloured pens, and we’re going to circle the words in red and the affixes, that’s prefixes and suffixes, in blue.

“Later today, I’ll know if I hafta get some prizes for Helen of Troy’s competition, or if it isn’t necessary.”

Some of these are pretty straightforward. “Some”? Word. The -s on “prizes”? Affix. But some of them, “I’ll”, “hafta”, “Helen of Troy’s”, “isn’t”….hmmm.

In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about a small bit of language that’s sort of a halfway point between a standalone word and a fully glommed-on affix: the clitic! We talk about why sentences like “That’s the kind of linguist I’m” feel so strange and how on the one hand clitics are a sign of increased efficiency in terms of saying more common words more quickly, but on the other hand they kind of add complication because there are some contexts where the full forms of the words would be fine and yet the clitic doesn’t work, giving you one more thing to keep track of. We also talk about clitics and reduced forms of words in Yolmo, Old English, and Dutch, and how clitic pronouns might be evolving into affixes in French and Spanish.


We’re excited to announce a special offer that we’re running on Patreon that brings you fun things in the mail! Join the Ling-phabet tier or higher by November 3, 2021 (anywhere on earth) and get a sticker pack of FOUR stickers:

  • Two round “Schwa never stressed” stickers (one floral, one geometric)

  • One classic square Lingthusiasm logo sticker

  • One BECAUSE INTERNET bookplate sticker signed by Gretchen, for you to stick inside your copy or anywhere else you like

Plus, if we reach a total of 1400 patrons at any level before November 3, then the sticker pack will also include:

  • Two mini Lingthusiasm green cutout stickers, one of which is called “bouba” and the other “kiki” — which is which? That’s an experiment you get to run on your friends when you stick them on your phone case, water bottle, laptop, etc.

This special offer is part of the Ling-phabet tier, which also has the ordinary perk of letting patrons sponsor an IPA symbol or other special character and be recognized on the Lingthusiasm website on our “Supporter Wall of Fame” page. You can get your symbol through our ~*~super scientific~*~ Which IPA Character Are You Quiz, or just tell us what your favourite character or other Unicode symbol is. Then you get an image with your name and favourite symbol on it (see samples here!) recognizing you as a supporter, which you can share on social media/print off and use as a bookmark/gaze at in warm satisfaction/etc. Plus, after 3 months at this tier, you get its regular “Lingthusiast” sticker in the mail, so that could be a total of 5 (or 7) stickers and 2 joyous mail occasions for you!

(Patrons at the Phil-ling-thropist tier will get two sticker packs — an extra one to share with a friend or to make sure your next laptop is still sufficiently lingthusiastic — plus the IPA Wall of Fame tile. Patrons at this level also receive a “Lingthusiast” mug after three months at this tier instead of the three month sticker.)

We’re still incredibly appreciative of all levels of support for our completely independent linguistics podcast! Regardless of what tier you’re at, you’ll help contribute to the 1400 patron stretch goal (and any new Phi-ling-thropists will let us reduce this goal by 10 patrons each!). Existing patrons at any of the relevant tiers will still receive sticker packs, and we’ll be in touch to confirm addresses closer to the shipping date.

The bonus episodes will continue to be available at the Ling-thusist tier and above the way they always have, so definitely don’t feel like you have to go for this special offer if you can’t spare the cash, but if you can and you’d like to help cross-subsidize Lingthusiasm for the many people learning about linguistics for free from our main episodes, then we’ve got these new special perks to make it even sweeter!

In this month’s bonus episode, we talk with Emily Gref, a linguist who’s been working at a new language museum called Planet Word since 2018, first on creating content for the museum and, now that it’s open, on analyzing how visitors interact with the exhibits. We talk about what’s in Planet Word (including a library room with secret passage!), Emily’s career journey from academia to publishing to the museum world, and Emily’s passionate defence of pigeons.

Join us on Patreon to listen to this and 53 other bonus episodes. You’ll also get access to the Lingthusiasm Discord server where you can discuss your favourite linguistically interesting fiction with other language nerds!

Here are links mentioned in this episode:

You can listen to this episode via, Soundcloud, RSS, Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also download an mp3 via the Soundcloud page for offline listening, and stay tuned for a transcript of this episode on the Lingthusiasm website. To receive an email whenever a new episode drops, sign up for the Lingthusiasm mailing list.

You can help keep Lingthusiasm advertising-free by supporting our Patreon. Being a patron gives you access to bonus content and lets you help decide on Lingthusiasm topics.

Lingthusiasm is on Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Email us at contact [at] lingthusiasm [dot] com

Gretchen is on Twitter as @GretchenAMcC and blogs at All Things Linguistic.

Lauren is on Twitter as @superlinguo and blogs at Superlinguo.

Lingthusiasm is created by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne. Our senior producer is Claire Gawne, our production editor is Sarah Dopierala, our production manager is Liz McCullough, and our music is ‘Ancient City’ by The Triangles.

Here’s the link again to Episode 60: That’s the kind of episode it’s - clitics

Thanks for listening, and stay Lingthusiastic!

Lauren & Gretchen

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