Tuesday, May 13, 2008


My own sense of podcast as a verb matches that of Webster's New Millennium Dictionary of English
Main Entry: podcast
Part of Speech: v
Definition: to deliver a Web-based audio broadcast via an RSS feed over the Internet to subscribers

That is to say, it is analogous to broadcast. Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC's afternoon arts program 'Q', however, has a very different sense in mind when he says (and he says it almost daily), "you can podcast the show at cbc.ca/q, the letter q." Here, he means that you can download the podcast, subscribe to it, or listen to it online (or perhaps he means all three. I'm not really sure.) But whichever it is, I don't think I'd ever heard or seen podcast used in that way elsewhere.

Which is not to say that it isn't. In fact, there are a few web pages (but a very few it seems) that have exactly the same sense as Ghomeshi's, including this from the BBC:

  • We're off air now, but you can podcast the programme here.
...and this one from the ABC (as in Australia).
  • Podcasting is like radio, only not. It's a way of publishing sound files using the internet and playing them back with an MP3 player. This empowers the listener - enabling each of us to choose when and where we listen. Jackie May reports.

    Program Transcript

    Richard Aedy: From next week, listeners like you can Podcast selected Radio National programs. Podcasting, they tell me, is radio without the radio, but how does it work? Jackie May decided to find out.

So, three of the major national English-language broadcasters (or at least a few members of their ranks) seem to believe that podcast can mean something like "listen to an audio file." This, despite the fact that ABC's use is in opposition to its own definition provided but a paragraph earlier. And, of course, it's hard to see how cast, meaning throw, fits with this inward-bound meaning, but let's not get too caught up in the etymological fallacy. Suffice it to say, I don't think these folk would accept "the listener can broadcast the program by tuning in on the radio."

For the time being, it seems that this catching sense of podcast hasn't quite caught on. But then again, being somewhat heterodox is what Q's all about, isn't it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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many thanks
Ali Musa