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My 10 favourite English grammar, linguistic and writing podcasts

by Andrew Pelechaty
I have always loved words and learning about grammar and linguistics. Over the past few years, I have discovered the joy of listening to entertaining podcasts. It started with following rugby league and The Simpsons podcasts and — since I’ve been taking my writing, editing and beta reading more seriously — has expanded into grammar, linguistics and writing podcasts. Now, for your enjoyment, I’m sharing my 10 all-time favourites.

A way with words

Hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, A way with words is a weekly American radio show. The hosts answer callers’ linguistic questions and discuss the origins of certain words and phrases. John Chaneski hosts a clever word-game quiz that gets you thinking and there’s a great Facebook group for in-depth linguistic discussions. 

A word in your ear 

We all love Roly Sussex, and some of you may have met him. The Lord of Language — as Roly is described in the show’s intro — hosts a weekly radio show on ABC Brisbane, broadcast on Thursday afternoons. The podcast is available a few hours later. Roly starts each episode with a theme and answers callers’ questions. He debunks myths and explores bugbears that callers have, and his regular ‘Last Word’ segment is usually an amusing ‘boom-tish’ word-play or joke. 
In the companion Facebook group you can talk about the episode or language in general. You can also join an email list to really get into linguistic talk with Roly and other members. 

Edit boost podcast

Malini Devadas, coach, editor and IPEd member, answers editors’ questions and discusses important elements of running an editing business: working with subcontractors, marketing, coping with your fears and doubts, maintaining a website, setting your editing pay rates and managing clients. 
This is a practical, helpful podcast for novice and professional editors. You can also join the Edit Boost Community Facebook page, which includes a monthly challenge, where editors nominate a goal for the next month and can reflect on their progress.

Grammar girl

Mignon Fogarty hosts this long-running podcast about ‘writing, history, rules and cool stuff’. Each week, Mignon discusses a language topic, delving into its history, and wraps up with a ‘familect’ story from a listener — the best are the cute stories of little kids making new words. 
Also check out the longer interviews with writers and editors. My favourite is the interview with Benjamin Dreyer in February last year, which inspired me to read his brilliant book Dreyer's English: an utterly correct guide to clarity and style. The Quick and Dirty Tips website has transcripts and articles if you want to dig a bit deeper.


I don’t know what’s more appealing about this podcast: the monthly deep dive into linguistics or the infectious enthusiasm of hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne. They’re passionate about linguistics, and it shows. They have an optional Patreon group, where you can access bonus episodes (on top of the 40-plus regular episodes), and a detailed website with episode transcripts and merchandise. 
Gretchen’s new book Because internet: understanding the new rules of language is also a great read.

6 minute grammar

While these weekly bite-sized episodes (through BBC Radio) are for people learning English as a second language, native English speakers can pick up some tips or refresh their knowledge of grammar rules. The chemistry between the hosts makes this entertaining, and the quiz at the end is fun.

The allusionist

This is a quirkier linguistics podcast, with the occasional interview. Host Helen Zaltzman, who also hosts a Veronica Mars podcast, talks about language and history. A recent episode discussed the history of the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ posters. Episodes range from 15 to 30 minutes, although the podcast has been a bit quiet lately.

The editing podcast

Louise Harnby and Denise Cowle host this weekly podcast, which often includes interviews and is full of practical advice for editors and writers. They clearly have a ball and often crack each other up during episodes. If you want more information, head to Louise’s website and the podcast’s Facebook page.
The interview with linguist Rob Drummond — where he discusses grammar pedantry, peevery, youth language and non-standard language — is one of my favourite interviews. You’ll enjoy a fascinating 50 minutes on ‘zombie rules’ and a common-sense approach, as well as on how the internet has affected pedantry and peevery.

Word for word

Word for word is a local podcast from the Macquarie Dictionary team. Throughout the series, the dictionary editors discuss language from their professional perspective, focusing on Australian English and etymologies. Recent episodes have focused on the way language changes, or defines new terms, such as COVID-19. Most episodes are about 15 minutes, with an annual discussion of Macquarie’s Word of the Year; it’s an interesting behind-the-scenes peek at the selection process.

Writing excuses

Our fiction writers and editors will love this podcast. The podcast’s tagline is ‘Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart’. Hosts Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal are professional authors, and Howard Tayler is a web cartoonist. 
As well as discussing the mechanics of fiction writing, including marketing your work, they look at the mental side of professional writing and have occasional live shows at writing conventions. They end each episode with a writing-themed homework assignment (related to the episode) and the outro ‘you’re out of excuses, now go write’. They also have a Patreon page.
Andrew Pelechaty is the Web Content Editor for
Nothing But League, and a beta reader.

[Photo credit Helen McConnell]


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