A new episode of Lingthusiasm!
Click here to listen to ‘Word Magic’
The magical kind of spell and the written kind of spell are historically linked. This reflects how saying a word can change the state of the world, both in terms of fictional magic spells that set things on fire or make them invisible, and in terms of the real-world linguistic concept of performative utterances, which let us agree to contracts, place bets, establish names, and otherwise alter the fabric of our relationships.
In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about word magic! We talk about how the word magic systems are set up differently in three recent fantasy books we like: Babel by R.F. Kuang, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, and the Scholomance series by Naomi Novik. We also talk about linguistic performatives: why saying “I do” in a movie doesn’t make you married, aka Felicity Conditions, aka an excellent drag name; performativity as applied to gender (yup, Judith Butler got it from linguistics); the “hereby” test; and how technology changes what counts as a performative.
Transcript available soon.
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Here are the links mentioned in the episode:
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‘Carry On - The Simon Snow series’ by Rainbow Rowell on Goodreads
‘A Deadly Education - The Scholomance Series’ by Naomi Novik on Goodreads
Lingthusiasm episode ‘Cool things about scales and implicature’
‘Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity’ by Judith Butler on Goodreads
‘Universality and specificity in infant-directed speech: Pitch modifications as a function of infant age and sex in a tonal and non-tonal language’ by C. Kitamura et al
Lingthusiasm bonus episodes on swearing:
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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, and our production assistant is Martha Tsutsui Billins. Our music is ‘Ancient City’ by The Triangles.
Here’s the link again to ‘Word Magic’
Thanks for listening, and stay Lingthusiastic!
Lauren & Gretchen