Searching for Subtext

Following a recommendation from All Things Linguistic, I’ve recently started listening to a cracking new linguistics podcast called Subtext.

Here’s what the presenters Sarah Ellis and Michelle McSweeney have to say about their show.

Relationships are confusing, especially when they’re digital. What did she mean by putting a period? Why did he wait so long to respond? We’re here to talk about your toughest texting questions (and share a few stories of our own).

Episodes are only about fifteen minutes long and deal with some aspect of digital communication and its relationship to, well, relationships. For example, the first episode looks at the (in)appropriateness of hyphens in Tinder messages. Each fortnightly episode features a new guest with a question about language.

I have to say I really enjoy the show. I listened to the first three episodes back to back last night and wished there were more.

In a nicely structured and digestible format, the presenters (one of whom is a linguist) routinely do that most remarkable thing: they make language feel new again.

Personally, I find the spontaneity of messaging apps tends to keep my mind off the linguistics of the medium and, instead, firmly set on finding the perfect gif/time to have coffee. But Subtext genuinely got me thinking about this great, complicated, meaning-rich mess we call digital communication. And that’s awesome. I’m looking forward to repeating the experience.