Why do we 'let the cat out of the bag' or 'go the whole nine yards'? What is a hackle and why might it be raised? What does it mean to 'fribble'? Or to have a 'schnapsidee'? And what are 'cupid's kettle drums'?
Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright are joined by Paul Anthony Jones, the writer behind the popular etymology blog Haggard Hawks to talk about the origins of common idioms, the stories behind words we use every day, and the forgotten words Paul would like to see brought back into use.
Paul is the author of six books of word lore and linguistic trivia, including Haggard Hawks and Paltry Poltroons: The Origins of English in Ten Words, The Accidental Dictionary: The Remarkable Twists and Turns of English Words and - most recently - The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities: A Yearbook of Forgotten Words.
Producer: Mair Bosworth.
Language and Gender Identity
Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright are joined by CN Lester, author of 'Trans Like Me: A Journey for All of Us' to talk about language and gender identity. What does it mean to be transgender and how is language being used (by and about) people who identify as transgender, non-binary or genderqueer?
Producer: Mair Bosworth.
Michael Rosen and Laura Wright explore how diseases are named and the political, economic and social impact of disease names past and present. Joining them are Laura Spinney, Science journalist and author of Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World and Professor Peter Piot; Ebola co-discoverer and AIDS pioneer, currently Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and professor of global health.
Producer: Sarah Addezio.
Best wishes, kind regards or none of the above?
We used to sign off letters using "yours faithfully" or "yours sincerely", then email came along and it was all "kind regards" and "best wishes". Now, it seems, we hardly sign off at all. With so many forms of written communication- email, text, Twitter, What's App- what new etiquettes are emerging, and where are 'digital natives' simply getting it wrong? Emma Gannon is author of Ctrl, Alt, Delete: How I Grew Up Online, and hosts the podcast of the same name. Producer Sally Heaven.
Michael Gets Voice Training
Vocal coaches Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher, authors of This is a Voice, give Michael Rosen a workout. They get him to read against natural pitch and intonation, which proves nearly impossible, and make him match his speaking pace to a walk around the studio. What we do with our consonants and our ability with a tongue twister also turn out to play a part in the ways in which we speak.
Producer Beth O'Dea.