LangTime Chat, Episode 39: Grambank Trivia

Jessie put together a trivia game for David based on language features provided in Grambank’s database (! You can play along as you listen, and you can also download the attached PDF to see all the features and examples discussed.


LangTime Chat, Episode 36: Conlang Relays

In this episode, we discuss conlang relays, providing an introduction to what they are and what participants can expect from them. We use some past conlang relays to give examples of how texts shift as relays progress.

One of the relays we discuss specifically is the LCC5 Relay. If you want to check out the full relay texts, you can find them here:

You’ll find the PDF of the slides we used for the episode attached to this post.


What I’m about to type below gives away some details of the LCC5 Relay, so if you want to be surprised by how the text shifted during the relay, do NOT keep reading! Listen to the episode first and then come back to check out this super cool information.


Three animals are included in the LCC5 Relay text. In the original, the animals are, in this order:

  • turtle(s)
  • horse
  • goat

I traced the evolution of these animals in the translations across the texts, and I was shocked to find out the turtle is what became the great lion!!! It started in Leg 4 (John Clifford’s text), where “turtle” became “reptile.” Then Zach Wellstood translated that as “dragon.” It stayed a dragon until Jan Strasser’s text, where it was translated as yuksa, a word specific to Jan’s conlang, which is glossed as “a legendary creature that eats people.” He goes on to describe it as an animal that looks similar to a panther with a long dinosaur-ish tail. Alex Fink translates that as “big people-eating cat,” and then Tony Harris turns that into “lion.” Jeff Jones calls it a “large cat,” and David translates it into Dothraki for the final text as “great lion.”

The horse stayed a horse AAAALLLLLLL the way to Jeff Jones, the 12th (and final) leg before the text was returned to David. That’s where the horse became a unicorn.

The same thing happened with “goat,” where Jeff translated that as “antelopes,” and then David translated as “deer” into Dothraki.

As for the plums and carrots… I translated these as “purple fruit” and “edible orange root” because Hiutsath did not have words for either (and wouldn’t because my speakers didn’t eat human food and had no interest in naming them). They stayed “purple fruit” and “orange root” for a few legs until Zach translated the “orange root” as an “orange fruit.” When that got to John Quijada, it turned into “red fruit.” (The “purple fruit” was still there at this stage.) But then it took a super interesting turn when Jim Henry conflated the two as apples, where the “real apples” are purple (assuming here that the red ones are not real!). That trend continued, where there were real/true apples versus bad/evil apples. When it got to Alex, the apples became “fruits” or “sweet fruits.”

It’s so much fun to trace these twists and turns that relay texts take!! I encourage you to read through all the English translations of the texts because there are delightful surprises in each one!


LangTime Chat, Episode 35: LangTime Expansion Animals

David leads this episode where we discuss the many options for expansion animals that Patrons are currently voting on. We hope this helps inform your decisions about what animals you’d like to see in future seasons of LangTime!


LangTime Studio, Episode 33: Create That Word! (Part II)

In this episode, David turns the tables on me and provides a list of words I need to create through compound, derivation, and grammaticalization strategies from the same root list used in Episode 32. You can see the words David selected for me to create in the attached PDF of the presentation we used, and I have re-uploaded the root list here so you can more easily find them!

(As a side note, we were recording this in Seattle, and… um… the audio is not its usual quality.)


LangTime Studio, Episode 32: Create That Word! (Part I)

In this episode, titled “Create That Word!”, we play a new LangTime Chat game!

We play a game where I provide David with a list of words that are basic roots in a not-as-yet-created language (all roots are English counterparts—not phonological forms), and he has to create strategies for forming new words. They aren’t just any words, though, that he’s creating: I provide specific words for him to create from those existing roots. 

We have three rounds of the game, focusing on different strategies: compounds, derivations, and grammaticalizations.

If you want to play along, I’ve attached a PDF of the root list and the presentation slides that provide the new words that need to be semantically formed.

We hope you enjoy the episode and have a happy start to your October!


LangTime Studio, Episode 29: Difficult Phrases to Translate

In this episode, we talk about some difficult phrases to translate, focusing the entire discussion on the many uses of “to have X” in English. We had recently needed to translate a line with such a construction and wanted to talk about other ways you could tackle taking apart some more idiomatic phrases when you translate them. 

Attached to the post is the list I had open during our discussion (which also had David’s entries, apparently). Even though it isn’t organized in the best way possible, you’ll see exactly what we were staring at as we discussed translating the phrases!


LangTime Chat, Episode 25: Language Sketch Evolution, Part II

In this episode, we discuss the results from our LangTime Chat proto-sketch we began in Episode 24. Not only did we have our own modern forms to compare, but Patrons also submitted work, so we have a whole family of modern forms based on the same proto-sketch. To keep our discussion organized, I made an accompanying slideshow, which is attached to this post as a PDF. 

This episode was a lot of fun for us, and we hope you enjoy it, too!


LangTime Chat, Episode 24: Language Sketch Evolution, Part I

We have officially been podcasting for two full years!! This episode is the first of a two-part series and is based on a Patron suggestion, and we are quite excited about it!

In this episode, we work together to create proto-forms of a conlang sketch and discuss why we made particular decisions along the way. We settled on a sound system, created a series of basic roots, and decided on a basic word order for the proto-language. Over the course of the next month, David and I will each work separately with the proto-forms, selecting our own sound changes and grammatical devices and what not. In the next episode, we will bring our work together to compare what we came up with.

For any who want to “play along,” the language sketch document we created in this podcast episode is attached (both in Pages and PDF formats). You can evolve these proto-forms in your own ways over the month to join in on the fun!


LangTime Chat, Episode 9: Name That Language (Celebrating Indigenous Languages)

In this month’s podcast, we play a round of “Name that language!” where I read language facts and have David try to guess the language being described. In honor of National Indigenous Peoples Day, all languages discussed are native to North America.


If you want to play along with David, don’t scroll down because the resources I provide below give away the languages.


Language 1

Navajo Spatial Terms (Navajo Language Academy), which is mentioned in the podcast and is the article I shared with David on the screen: 

Young and Morgan’s original work on The Navajo (Navaho) Language: 

McDonough’s article on how to use Young and Morgan’s guide: 

Wall and Morgan’s Navajo-English dictionary: 

Language 2

Ullrich’s dissertation on Lakota: 

Language 3

Chafe’s Grammar of the Seneca Language: 


LangTime Chat, Episode 8: LINGsanity!

Welcome to LangTime Chat! In this episode, Jessie creates a language-based game for David to play called LINGsanity (if you’ve ever seen Winsanity, then you’ll know the gist of what David’s in store for).

In terms of gameplay, contestants are presented with numerical-based facts and must “stack” those facts in the correct order to win. For instance, a contestant might be asked to stack “Number of times David has sneezed during the live stream” and “Number of times Jessie has sneezed during the live stream.” Of course, the correct ordering is to put Jessie’s sneezes on top since she had an attack of allergies during a single episode that earned her more sneezes than David.

After the game, David and Jessie keep chatting (it is LangTime Chat after all) and cover everything from games to photos. Jessie mentions a drawing of David presenting at SFA–one of her students brought her son to David’s presentation, and he drew a photo to commemorate the event.

The details are quite amazing (and accurate!). And now for more information about the game.


If you want to play along with David, do not keep scrolling to view all the images below. The images below present the facts in each round that David is asked to stack, and then the next image provides answers for that round. If you don’t mind seeing the answers before listening to the game, then scroll away.

Jessie selected each fact for this game for specific reasons, and each round is followed by discussions and chit-chat focusing on those facts and the reasons they were selected. Whether you play along or peek at the answers first, enjoy the first-ever unveiling of LINGsanity!

Round 1: Duo for the win

Below are the first two facts David has to stack, both focused on Duolingo and courses offered through that app. The first round is always the easiest. 🙂

Round 2: All in the family

Now it gets MUCH trickier, especially with a fact about WALS, and David sweats his answers to this round, which focuses on language families and speakers.

Round 3: Against the WALS

This round focuses specifically on data provided in WALS chapters, requiring David to stack facts whose answers are quite close. While this round should have been more difficult than the last, David astounds Jessie with his knowledge of linguistic feature frequencies.

LINGsanity: Final answers

The image below shows all facts from the game stacked in the correct order with their numerical values assigned.

What a game!