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Lexicon Valley

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Lexicon Valley is a show about language, from pet peeves, syntax, and etymology to neurolinguistics and the death of languages. Hosted by linguist John McWhorter.

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In the Negative

28:49 | Jul 25th, 2017

John McWhorter on the history and evolution of no and not.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: facebook.c...Show More

Is Social Media Changing English?

40:25 | Nov 27th

Our speech is becoming more childlike, but not for the reasons you think.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFaceb...Show More

What Was the First Language?

46:07 | Nov 13th

This episode is brought to you by Slack, the collaboration hub for work. Learn more at Slack.com. LinkedIn Talent Solutions, for $50 off your first job post, go to linkedin.com/LEXICON.How far back can we trace, with any accuracy, the spoken word?Joi...Show More

So ... Let's Talk About So

38:14 | Oct 30th

This episode is brought to you by Slack, a workplace communication hub. Find out more at slack.com.How long have we been starting our sentences with "so"?Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up f...Show More

Like-Minded

32:11 | Oct 16th

This episode is brought to you by the following advertisers:Slack, a workplace communication hub. Find out more at slack.com.Babbel, the #1-selling language learning app in the world. Get 50% off your 6-month subscription today at babbel.com/lexicon....Show More

Why Do Southerners Talk Like That?

38:32 | Oct 2nd

John McWhorter dissects the many distinct features that make up Southern speech.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvall...Show More

The Habitual Past

33:41 | Sep 18th

Did you "used to" do something but don't any longer? Where does that expression come from?!Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @...Show More

A Riot of Color

39:58 | Sep 4th

This episode is brought by RXBAR, a whole-food protein bar, made from real, natural ingredients. For 25% off your first order, visit RXBAR.com/lexicon and enter promo code lexicon.Our word for "red" predates our word for "blue"—and that's true for al...Show More

The Rise of They

41:37 | Aug 21st

This episode is brought to you by Slack, a workplace communication hub. Find out more at slack.com.John McWhorter says that English pronouns are evolving and it's time to embrace it.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only p...Show More

Wabbit Twacks

43:01 | Aug 6th

John McWhorter applies linguistic analysis to Looney Tunes.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: facebook....Show More

Tee Time

41:23 | Jul 24th

John McWhorter on what the French Canadian version of The Flintstones can teach us about the letter T.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus....Show More

Happy Birthday OED!

35:15 | Jul 10th

John McWhorter raises an etymological glass to the nonagenarian Oxford English Dictionary.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @l...Show More

If Frozen, Why Not Squozen?

37:37 | Jun 26th

John McWhorter on language lessons from this year's Tony nominees for Best Musical.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconv...Show More

The Pronouning of Profanities

33:30 | Jun 12th

John McWhorter on the way in which words like f*ck and sh*t are increasingly standing in for it and that.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastspl...Show More

One Tongue to Rule Them All

37:57 | May 29th

John McWhorter on the tantalizing prospect of a universal language.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: f...Show More

The Art of the Spiel

43:17 | May 15th

A brief history of oratory from the Gilded Age to the Era of Trump.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: f...Show More

Lend Me Your Ears: Julius Caesar

0:32 | May 9th

Lend Me Your Ears is a six-part podcast miniseries exploring how Shakespeare’s works have shaped our modern views on politics. Each month, host Isaac Butler will dig into a different Shakespeare play to explore how Shakespeare was responding to his c...Show More

Getting to Yes

36:09 | May 1st

Yes! John McWhorter on our compact, workaday affirmative.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: facebook.co...Show More

The Story of P

38:56 | Apr 17th

John McWhorter on why the 16th letter of our alphabet is a fancy little thing.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalley...Show More

English Spelling Is a Beautiful Mess

36:34 | Apr 3rd

John McWhorter on why English spelling is so frustratingly idiosyncratic.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFaceb...Show More

Did the Founding Fathers Have a British Accent?

37:24 | Mar 20th

John McWhorter on what Washington, Franklin and Hamilton may have sounded like.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalle...Show More

No-Uh!

35:16 | Mar 6th

John McWhorter on the rise of an exclamatory syllable in English.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: fac...Show More

The Inner Workings of Out

34:43 | Feb 20th

John McWhorter on the rich complexities of a humble preposition.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: face...Show More

Words, For Her

35:29 | Feb 6th

John McWhorter on the origin of woman, girl and other lady terms.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: fac...Show More

What's the Deal with Eleven?

45:04 | Jan 23rd

John McWhorter on the etymology and pronunciation of English numbers.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook:...Show More

There Are Two N-Words

35:23 | Jan 9th

Like gangster and gangsta, nigger and nigga have become two distinct words.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFac...Show More

The Thing Is Is

34:22 | Dec 26th, 2017

The problem is, is that we sometimes say is twice. Why?Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: facebook.com/...Show More

An Accidental Sanctity

34:30 | Dec 12th, 2017

Biblical scholar Mark Ward discusses his forthcoming book, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/p...Show More

Thanksgiving Misnomers

36:23 | Nov 28th, 2017

Turkey? Pumpkin? Squash? They're all mistakes.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: facebook.com/LexiconVa...Show More

Sometimes Just Because

32:21 | Nov 14th, 2017

Language is often at the mercy of pure chance.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: facebook.com/LexiconVa...Show More

Against Strunk & White

32:55 | Oct 31st, 2017

It's time to permanently shelve the Elements of Style.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: facebook.com/L...Show More

Whence Baby Mama?

38:08 | Oct 17th, 2017

John McWhorter answers questions from Lexicon Valley listeners.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: faceb...Show More

Este No Es Parqueo

36:20 | Oct 3rd, 2017

After parking in front of a garage, John received a note written in Spanish.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFa...Show More

From Pidgins to Creoles

39:25 | Sep 19th, 2017

John McWhorter discusses the process by which some new languages are born.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFace...Show More

Do Languages Simplify Over Time?

32:06 | Sep 5th, 2017

Old English was arguably more complicated than Modern English. Is that true of all languages?Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter:...Show More

Did Cavebabies Say Mama and Papa?

28:38 | Aug 22nd, 2017

Languages across the world developed similar words for mom and dad. How is that possible?Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @le...Show More

New Life for Dying Languages

34:03 | Aug 8th, 2017

The Language Conservancy's Wil Meya discusses the effort to revive Native American languages.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter:...Show More

Why Do Languages Have Contractions?

32:50 | Jul 11th, 2017

John McWhorter explains why we love shrinkage.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: facebook.com/LexiconVa...Show More

The Incredible Lightness of Being

26:02 | Jun 27th, 2017

John McWhorter considers the eccentric irregularity of the verb to be.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook...Show More

Is There a Jewish Way of Talking?

35:03 | Jun 13th, 2017

John McWhorter interrupts the hosts of Unorthodox to discuss hallmarks and stereotypes of Jewish communication style. Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: facebook.com/LexiconValleyEmail: lexiconvalley@slate.com 

Mining Graffiti for Slang

28:39 | May 30th, 2017

John McWhorter talks to Ben Zimmer about the Vietnam Graffiti Project and other slangy topics.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter...Show More

That's Not a Word, Is It?

27:36 | May 16th, 2017

John McWhorter discusses the near-futile impulse to determine what is, and what is not, a word.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitte...Show More

The Language of Female Friendships

32:43 | May 2nd, 2017

John McWhorter discusses communication styles with linguist Deborah Tannen, author of You're the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women's Friendships.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Si...Show More

The Euphemism Treadmill

25:29 | Apr 18th, 2017

John McWhorter on the evolution from "crippled" to "handicapped" to "differently abled" and why no such term is likely to stick around long.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free tria...Show More

Heyo, Let's Talk About Hamilton

27:36 | Apr 4th, 2017

John McWhorter talks to linguist Neal Whitman about the mash-up of hey and yo.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalley...Show More

Earlier American English—More Profane, Parochial and Provincial

29:20 | Mar 21st, 2017

John McWhorter time travels to 1930 and eavesdrops on American English.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconvalley Faceb...Show More

Like, Why Do We Use Like So Much?

32:17 | Feb 7th, 2017

John McWhorter talks to sociolinguist Alexandra D'Arcy about the spike in our use of like. Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: ...Show More

What Had Happened Was Storytelling

30:15 | Jan 24th, 2017

John McWhorter discusses the subject of his new book, Talking Back, Talking Black: Truths About America's Lingua Franca.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate...Show More

Why We Stopped Teaching Children How to Read

29:38 | Jan 10th, 2017

Mark Seidenberg, author of Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can Be Done About It, discusses the fallout from the so-called reading wars.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcast...Show More

Away in a Penthouse, the Little Lord Jesus

25:28 | Dec 27th, 2016

When hath gave way to has, the original meaning of merry, and other insights from popular Christmas carols.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcasts...Show More

What "The Wizard of Oz" Can Tell Us About "Arrival"

27:00 | Dec 13th, 2016

In Arrival, Amy Adams plays a linguist who discovers that language can radically alter one's perception of reality. But is that true? Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial toda...Show More

Black Like Us

30:40 | Nov 29th, 2016

Are the slang, sounds, and syntax of Black English a kind of lingua franca for America's youth? Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitt...Show More

Language Lessons of Past Presidents

29:02 | Nov 15th, 2016

What can we learn about English from Bill Clinton, the two Bushes, and other leaders of the free world? Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplu...Show More

Whither Didst Thou Go?

33:02 | Nov 1st, 2016

How our rich and complex system of second person pronouns got whittled down to just "you." Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @...Show More

Why Do People Talk Like That in Old Movies?

31:13 | Oct 18th, 2016

What Bette Davis, FDR, and Ralph Kramden have in common when it comes to speech.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trialtoday at www.slate.com/podcastsplus.Twitter: @lexiconvalley...Show More

Billy and Me Went to the Store. Deal With It.

24:54 | Oct 4th, 2016

John McWhorter on what the intricacies of the future tense tell us about the unwritten rules of pronouns.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign upfor a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplu...Show More

What Is a Dictionary, Really?

22:22 | Sep 20th, 2016

John Simpson, former editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, talks about life as a lexicographer.

The Invisible Language of Nursery Rhymes

22:38 | Sep 6th, 2016

What does "Hickory Dickory Dock" really mean?  John McWhorter makes linguistic sense of seemingly arbitrary children's verse.

Word Sex

34:40 | Aug 23rd, 2016

How Words Hook Up and Make New Ones

Should Shakespeare Get a Modern English Update?

43:43 | Aug 8th, 2016

John McWhorter talks with author Jack Lynch about the sacrilege of modified Shakespeare. 

Are Emoji a Language?

37:34 | Jul 26th, 2016

Gretchen McCulloch talks to John McWhorter about the big meaning behind our favorite little pictograms.

Finding Life in a Dead Language

25:28 | Jul 12th, 2016

Ann Patty, author of "Living With a Dead Language: My Romance With Latin," talks about her transformative experience of learning Latin.

Rules Are Made to Be Spoken

28:59 | Jun 29th, 2016

Sali Tagliamonte, author of Making Waves: The Story of Variationist Sociolinguistics, talks about the underlying disorder of the English Language.

The Tragedy of English Spelling

25:07 | Jun 14th, 2016

Etymologist and poet Anatoly Liberman says that English is one of the most difficult languages to spell. But we can change that.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at w...Show More

Your Brain on Profanity

31:57 | May 31st, 2016

Benjamin K. Bergen, author of the upcoming What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, andOurselves, discusses the science of cursing.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up...Show More

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot!

25:47 | May 17th, 2016

How an American Revolutionary War figure spawned a new name for a very old game. Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @lexiconval...Show More

The Blaccent: What Does It Mean to Sound Black?

26:50 | May 3rd, 2016

Linguist John McWhorter argues that it makes perfect sense for the speech of black and white Americans to have subtle differences.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at...Show More

A Wild Goose Chase that Stinks from Fish

22:19 | Apr 19th, 2016

How did Clupea harengus come to signify a diversionary tactic?Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign upfor a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus.Twitter: @lexiconvalleyFacebook: facebook...Show More

Defecation Presentation

27:12 | Apr 4th, 2016

The earliest known citation for “shit show” is from an English-language translation of a 1970s criminal trial in Germany. But what was the word or phrase being translated? Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, a...Show More

Take This Episode with a Grain of Salt

29:27 | Mar 8th, 2016

A salty phrase with roots in Ancient Rome has confounded English speakers for centuries. Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter: @le...Show More

The Full, Firm, Valiant, and Heavy-Hearted Trump

28:15 | Feb 22nd, 2016

Donald Trump calls people (and publications) he doesn’t like “sad.” When did that word become an insult?Lexicon Valley is brought to you by Blue Apron. For less than $10 per meal, Blue Apron delivers right to your door everything you need to create a...Show More

A British Insult Fit for Trump

32:09 | Feb 8th, 2016

A peculiar insult from the north of England has the Oxford English Dictionary stumped.Lexicon Valley is brought to you by The Great Courses Plus, a new video service with more than 5,000 lectures. As a member, you can watch as many lectures as you wa...Show More

They Had a Good Year

35:37 | Jan 27th, 2016

A pronoun that English borrowed from its Scandinavian neighbors gets new life as a gender neutral alternative to he and she.Lexicon Valley is brought to you by Blue Apron. For less than $10 per meal, Blue Apron delivers right to your door everything ...Show More

The Curious Case of a Conspiratorial Coinage

36:08 | Jan 11th, 2016

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk about a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.Lexicon Valley is brought to you by The Great Courses Plus, a new video learning service with more than 5,000 lectures. As a member of The Great Courses Plu...Show More

Tears of Joy, Identity, and a Prism of Isms

32:12 | Dec 28th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to editors at Oxford, Merriam-Webster, and Dictionary.com about their picks for Word of the Year.Lexicon Valley is brought to you by Headspace. If you've ever been curious about meditation or would like to reacquaint ...Show More

Sleeping Hobos in a Tent, Rush 'Em!

29:41 | Dec 14th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the early 20th-century origins of a bizarre food-industry code with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.Lexicon Valley is brought to you by The Message, an original science fiction podcast from Panoply and GE Podcast Theater....Show More

Snoozefest

28:36 | Nov 30th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the energetic history of the word sleep.Lexicon Valley is brought to you by The Message, an original science fiction podcast from Panoply and GE Podcast Theater. All of Season 1 is available now, so listen and find...Show More

Woody Guthrie's Folk Etymology

27:31 | Nov 16th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a word that was popularized during the 1940s folk movement with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.

Lexicon Valley is brought to you by The Message, a new podcast series from GE Podcast Theater.And by Texture, the mobile ap...Show More

A Cat, a Coward, and Female Genitalia

32:00 | Nov 2nd, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the etymological quirkiness of the word "pussy." Lexicon Valley is brought to you by The Message, a new podcast series from GE Podcast Theater. Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only p...Show More

A Drone, a Bell, and a Suffix

28:37 | Oct 19th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a piece of old American slang with lexicographer Ben Zimmer. Lexicon Valley is brought to you by The Message, a new podcast series from GE Podcast Theate. And by Texture, the mobile app that lets you tap directly...Show More

Seven Centuries of F--ks

31:36 | Oct 5th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to Jesse Sheidlower, author of The F-Word, about a recent discovery in the history of one our most enduring expletives. Lexicon Valley is brought to you by The Message, a new podcast series from GE Podcast Theater J...Show More

An Ambitious Enterprise, Quixotic and Unavailing

30:33 | Sep 21st, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer. Lexicon Valley is sponsored by OPEN ACCOUNT, a podcast series created by SuChin Pak and Umpqua Bank. OPEN ACCOUNT explores, through honest and sometimes comi...Show More

How New York Became the Big Apple

22:10 | Sep 7th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the true story behind the most famous municipal nickname. Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitt...Show More

Why Do Latin Americans Call English Speakers Gringos?

33:06 | Aug 24th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the origin of a Spanish-language pejorative with lexicographer Ben Zimmer. Lexicon Valley is sponsored by the Great Courses, offering engaging audio and video lectures taught by top professors. Courses like "Great...Show More

What Do You Mean What Is It Like?

29:18 | Aug 10th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss "A literary history of the strange expression 'what is it like?'"—an article by lexicographer Anne Seaton. Lexicon Valley is sponsored by the Great Courses, offering engaging audio and video lectures taught by top...Show More

LinguaFile XIV | Heebie Jeebies

37:26 | Jul 27th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer. Lexicon Valley is sponsored by the Great Courses, offering engaging audio and video lectures taught by top professors. Courses like "The Secret Life of Words...Show More

What's the Deal with Translating Seinfeld?

41:02 | Jul 13th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to journalist Jennifer Keishin Armstrong about the classic American sitcom Seinfeld and why it falls flat in other cultures and languages. Lexicon Valley is sponsored by the Great Courses, offering engaging audio and...Show More

LinguaFile XIII | Bozo

24:15 | Jun 29th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer. Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at www.slate.com/podcastsplus. Twitter...Show More

The Pollyanna Hypothesis

46:58 | Jun 17th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss what it means that language has a "positivity bias." This week's episode is sponsored by Blue Apron, the new service that delivers all the ingredients you need to make incredible meals at home. Discover a better w...Show More

LinguaFile XII | Kibitz

37:09 | Jun 1st, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.     This week's episode is sponsored by The Great Courses and its series "Language A to Z." Order it at 80% off the original price by visiting thegreatcourses...Show More

M'athchomaroon, Zhey Lajak Vezhven!

41:07 | May 18th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to conlanger David J. Peterson about the art and craft of creating languages for Game of Thrones.     This week's episode is sponsored by The Great Courses and its series "Language A to Z." Order it at 80% off the ori...Show More

LinguaFile XI | Seersucker

32:48 | May 4th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the origin of the word "seersucker" with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.     This week's episode is sponsored by The Great Courses and its series "Language A to Z." Order it at 80% off the original price by visiting theg...Show More

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

37:34 | Apr 20th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo don't know nuthin' about the double negative.     Twitter: @lexiconvalley Facebook: facebook.com/LexiconValley Email: lexiconvalley@slate.com     This week's episode is sponsored by The Great Courses and its series "Langua...Show More

LinguaFile X | Pumpernickel

35:18 | Apr 6th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the origin of the word "pumpernickel" with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.     Twitter: @lexiconvalley Facebook: facebook.com/LexiconValley Email: lexiconvalley@slate.com     This week's episode is sponsored by The Great...Show More

And Infinitum

36:27 | Mar 23rd, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss whether "try and" is an acceptable substitute for "try to."

LinguaFile IX | Carnival

26:37 | Mar 9th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the origin of the word "carnival" with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.

Sex Workers

32:54 | Feb 23rd, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the authoress, the usherette, and the editrix with Anne Curzan, the lady professor.

LinguaFile VIII | Quiz

24:07 | Feb 9th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.

The Many Lives of Anna Karenina

36:59 | Jan 26th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to journalist and author Masha Gessen about translating Tolstoy.

LinguaFile VII | Cockamamie

31:48 | Jan 12th, 2015

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.

Exposure to Vape Culture

48:38 | Dec 29th, 2014

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo are joined by Peter Sokolowski of Merriam-Webster, Katherine Martin of Oxford University Press, Jane Solomon of Dictionary.com, and Erin McKean of Wordnik.com to discuss their respective Words of the Year.

LinguaFile VI | Grog

25:22 | Dec 15th, 2014

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.

What Does It Mean to Sound Gay?

36:47 | Dec 1st, 2014

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to speech scientist Benjamin Munson about the "gay voice."

LinguaFile V | Get One's Goat

33:04 | Nov 17th, 2014

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.

Number Theory

27:02 | Nov 3rd, 2014

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo ask the question: How did we go from "four and twenty" to "twenty four"? Show notes at www.slate.com/lexiconvalley.

LinguaFile IV | Snark

41:35 | Oct 20th, 2014

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer. Show notes at www.slate.com/lexiconvalley.

Man on the Street

38:17 | Oct 6th, 2014

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to Jonathon Green, author of The Vulgar Tongue and Green's Dictionary of Slang, a 6,000-page, three-volume reference more than 20 years in the making. Show notes at www.slate.com/lexiconvalley.

LinguaFile III | Orange

28:37 | Sep 22nd, 2014

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer. Show notes at www.slate.com/lexiconvalley.

Demonstratively Speaking

30:02 | Sep 8th, 2014

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss Sarah Palin's use of demonstrative pronouns. Show notes at www.slate.com/lexiconvalley.

LinguaFile II | Lagniappe

23:49 | Aug 25th, 2014

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer. Show notes at www.slate.com/lexiconvalley.

The Manic Pixie and the Magical Negro

30:22 | Aug 11th, 2014

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to arts critic Nathan Rabin and journalist Christopher John Farley about the phrases they coined to identify two of Hollywood's most pernicious tropes. Show notes at www.slate.com/lexiconvalley.

LinguaFile I | Discombobulate

18:25 | Jul 28th, 2014

Mike Vuolo and Bob Garfield discuss a mystery word or phrase with Vocabulary.com executive producer Ben Zimmer. Show notes at www.slate.com/lexiconvalley. Follow @lexiconvalley.

Lexicon Valley No. 38: Fisherman's Whorf

34:05 | Jul 14th, 2014

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to Columbia University professor John McWhorter about his new book, The Language Hoax. Show notes at www.slate.com/lexiconvalley.

Lexicon Valley No. 37: Legislating Language

31:41 | Mar 10th, 2014

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss four legal cases in which the dictionary played a crucial part.

Lexicon Valley No. 36: The Dude Abides

35:31 | Jan 27th, 2014

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the early history of the word "dude." Show notes at www.slate.com/lexiconvalley.

Lexicon Valley No. 35: Learning to Say No

25:18 | Dec 23rd, 2013

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the many meanings of a child's "no." Show notes at www.slate.com/lexiconvalley.

Lexicon Valley No. 34: Ask Not Who Wrote "Ask Not"

29:27 | Dec 16th, 2013

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss JFK's Inaugural Address with Richard Tofel, author of Sounding the Trumpet. Show notes at www.slate.com/lexiconvalley.

Lexicon Valley No. 33: The End of Ambiguity

24:30 | Dec 9th, 2013

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to linguist Arika Okrent about the most logical language ever invented. Show notes at www.slate.com/lexiconvalley.

Lexicon Valley: Special Announcement

0:36 | Dec 4th, 2013

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo announce the return of Lexicon Valley. Yay!

Lexicon Valley No. 32: The Burden of Being Right

34:36 | Aug 5th, 2013

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the irresistible pull of language pedantry.

Lexicon Valley No. 31: Name That Tone

27:57 | Jul 15th, 2013

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the relationship between tonal languages and musical acuity.

Lexicon Valley No. 30: Eject at High Altitude

19:00 | Jul 1st, 2013

Mike Vuolo talks with an anthropological linguist about the influence geography might have on speech.

Lexicon Valley #29: 30 Million By Four

28:54 | Jun 24th, 2013

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the importance of talking to your child.

Lexicon Valley #28: A Brief History of Swearing

24:25 | Jun 17th, 2013

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss curse words old and new with author Melissa Mohr. Show notes at slate.com/lexiconvalley.

Lexicon Valley #27: Accentuate the Positive

25:57 | Jun 10th, 2013

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the seemingly paradoxical phrase "yeah-no."

Special Announcement

0:57 | Jun 1st, 2013

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo announce a new run of Lexicon Valley episodes.

Special Announcement

1:28 | Feb 13th, 2013

Lexicon Valley will be back with a run of all-new episodes in the spring.

Lexicon Valley #26: The Fawth Flaw, Part II

29:25 | Jan 28th, 2013

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss R-dropping and the New York accent.

Lexicon Valley #25: The Fawth Flaw

22:18 | Jan 14th, 2013

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a defining feature of the classic New York accent.

Lexicon Valley #24: Get Your Creak On

26:03 | Dec 31st, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss creaky voice.

Lexicon Valley #23: Good Is Up

27:26 | Dec 17th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss metaphor and the "fiscal cliff."

Lexicon Valley #22: Talking Leaves and Lightning Paper

28:36 | Dec 3rd, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the Cherokee syllabary.

Lexicon Valley #21: Undocumented Illegals

32:52 | Nov 12th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the debate over "illegal" versus "undocumented" at the heart of U.S. immigration policy.

Lexicon Valley #20: Death to Potatoes

32:03 | Oct 29th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo speak with Nataly Kelly, coauthor of Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World.

Lexicon Valley #19: Here's to You Mrs. Malaprop

30:50 | Oct 15th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss what malapropisms might reveal about the way we organize our mental dictionary.

Lexicon Valley #18: The Rate of Exchange

24:37 | Oct 1st, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the commonly held belief that some languages are spoken faster than others.

Lexicon Valley #17: Ascent of the A-word

25:21 | Sep 17th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to linguist Geoffrey Nunberg about his book Ascent of the A-word: A**holism, the First Sixty Years.

Special Announcement from Lexicon Valley

1:13 | Jul 18th, 2012

Mike announces a run of all new episodes beginning later in the summer.

Lexicon Valley #16: Our Dying Words

21:10 | Jul 9th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss what we lose when a language goes extinct.

Lexicon Valley #15: Then Is Now, Now and Then

29:34 | Jul 2nd, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the historical present.

Lexicon Valley #14: By Their Words You Shall Know Them

30:29 | Jun 18th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss stylometry.

Lexicon Valley #13: Capturing the Past

37:33 | Jun 11th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk about how Mad Men and Downton Abbey can teach us about language change.

Lexicon Valley #12: The Eloquence of Plain English

30:03 | Jun 4th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the Gettysburg Address.

Lexicon Valley #11: When Being Done Replaced Doing

26:14 | May 27th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the most significant change to the English language that you've never heard of.

Lexicon Valley #10: One Giant Leap for Humanity

37:28 | May 14th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the he said/she said of the epicene pronoun.

Lexicon Valley #9: And May He Be a Masculine Bridge

29:30 | May 7th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss how a simple quirk of grammar may affect the way we think.

Lexicon Valley #8: When Nouns Grew Genitals

28:00 | Apr 30th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss what it means for language to have gender.

Lexicon Valley #7: A Needle Pulling Thread

27:49 | Apr 23rd, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the big ambitions of the word "so."

Special Announcement from Lexicon Valley

0:57 | Apr 4th, 2012

Mike announces a batch of brand new episodes.

Lexicon Valley #6: A Meditation on Scrabble

33:15 | Mar 12th, 2012

Mike Vuolo talks to "Word Freak" author Stefan Fatsis about the nature of language in Scrabble.

Lexicon Valley #5: Untuning the String

34:52 | Mar 5th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to author David Skinner about his book, The Story of Ain't, which will be published in the fall of 2012.

Lexicon Valley #4: Jumpin' Salty in The O

38:38 | Feb 27th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the vernacular wrapped in a dialect inside a language that some call Ebonics.

Lexicon Valley #3: Consider the Lamppost

27:39 | Feb 20th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the hypercorrected incorrectness of "between you and I."

Lexicon Valley #2: A Bundle of Faggots

30:17 | Feb 13th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the evolution of the word "faggot."

Lexicon Valley #1: A Sin of Which None Is Guilty

22:13 | Feb 6th, 2012

Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the longstanding English language proscription against ending a sentence with a preposition.