Spectacular Vernacular

Spectacular Vernacular

Linguist Nicole Holliday and Wall Street Journal language columnist Ben Zimmer discuss the ways language is changing, talk to scholars and writers, and set and solve word puzzles.

Episodes

October 26, 2021 40 min
On today’s episode of Spectacular Vernacular, hosts Nicole Holliday and Ben Zimmer talk about Anthony Fauci’s old-school Brooklyn accent. They also interview Sylvia Sierra about her new book Millennials Talking Media: Creating Intertextual Identities in Everyday Conversation. And finally, Rachelle Hampton and Madison Malone Kircher, the hosts of ICYMI, Slate’s podcast on internet culture, stop by for some world wide web wordplay. W...
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On today’s episode of Spectacular Vernacular, hosts Nicole Holliday and Ben Zimmer chat about Netflix’s latest hit, Squid Game. They also interview award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker, John Colapinto, about his book This is the Voice. And finally, we bring on chart analyst, pop critic, and host of the Slate podcast “Hit Parade,” Chris Molanphy for a fun music quiz. We hope you’re ready! You could win a year’s membership to...
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September 28, 2021 28 min
Nicole Holliday and Ben Zimmer discuss a regional grammatical construction that is most common in the Philadelphia area, though it’s also found in Canada and Vermont. Then they talk with journalist Allyson Waller about Black American Sign Language. Waller won the Linguistics Journalism award from the Linguistic Society of America for her New York Times piece “Black, Deaf, and Extremely Online.” Finally, we invite listener Ben Snitk...
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September 14, 2021 39 min
On today’s episode of Spectacular Vernacular, Ben Zimmer tells Nicole Holliday how he’s been brushing up his Dutch. They also interview Cindy Blanco, senior learning specialist for the online language-learning app, Duolingo. And finally, we invite a listener to play a quiz that looks at the Dutch roots of some English words. We hope you’re ready!! You could win a year’s membership to Slate Plus. Do you have any language questions o...
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On today’s episode of Spectacular Vernacular, Nicole Holliday and Ben Zimmer share their thoughts on Pfizer’s official name for its COVID vaccine. They also interview Sam Ezersky, digital puzzles editor for the New York Times, about the popular online game the Spelling Bee. And finally, we invite a listener to play our inspired version of the Spelling Bee. We hope you’ve been practicing! You could win a year’s membership to Slate P...
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This episode of The Relentless is all about how to be a good communicator in an evolving, digital world. Host Kristen Meinzer talks to three guests who have valuable insights and perspectives about communication dynamics, both on and offline: Erica Dhawan, communication expert and author of Digital Body Language and Get Big Things Done, and Michael and Matthew Atwood, co-owners of Atwood Management and hosts of the Realty Brothers ...
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August 17, 2021 31 min
On today’s episode of Spectacular Vernacular, Nicole Holliday shows Ben Zimmer an entertaining TikTok video that does some fascinating things with language. They also interview Norma Mendoza-Denton, professor of anthropology at UCLA, about her recently published article “ ‘Sticking It to the Man’: r/wallstreetbets, Generational Masculinity and Revenge in Narratives of our Dystopian Capitalist Age.” And finally, a listener joins us ...
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August 3, 2021 29 min
On today’s episode of Spectacular Vernacular, hosts Ben Zimmer and Nicole Holliday chat about language at the Olympics in Tokyo. They also chat with linguist Arika Okrent about her new book, Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don't Rhyme―And Other Oddities of the English Language. (Check out an essay Okrent wrote about the English spelling system.) And finally, we have our first guest joining us for a fun quiz segm...
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July 20, 2021 31 min
Welcome to Spectacular Vernacular, Slate’s new podcast about language! In our inaugural episode, hosts Ben Zimmer and Nicole Holliday marvel at Zaila Avant-garde’s historic win at Scripps National Spelling Bee. They also chat with They Might Be Giants’, John Linnell, about creating his new pandemic project in Latin. And finally, they do some fun language puzzles, and you can play along at home.  Do you have any language questions o...
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July 6, 2021 39 min
A grueling, painful, lifelong joy of studying Russian was sparked by Anna Karenina. Slate Plus members get a bonus segment on Lexicon Valley each week, and no ads. Sign up now to listen and support our show. Twitter: @lexiconvalley Facebook: facebook.com/LexiconValley Email: lexiconvalley@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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June 22, 2021 45 min
From vowelless words to complex poetry, Berber to Somali. Slate Plus members get a bonus segment on Lexicon Valley each week, and no ads. Sign up now to listen and support our show. Twitter: @lexiconvalley Facebook: facebook.com/LexiconValley Email: lexiconvalley@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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June 8, 2021 46 min
Deconstructing a single line of dialogue from Netflix's "The Crown." Slate Plus members get a bonus segment on Lexicon Valley each week, and no ads. Sign up now to listen and support our show. Twitter: @lexiconvalley Facebook: facebook.com/LexiconValley Email: lexiconvalley@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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May 25, 2021 40 min
Why are so many of the languages of Southeast Asia "like Chinese"? Slate Plus members get a bonus segment on Lexicon Valley each week, and no ads. Sign up now to listen and support our show. Twitter: @lexiconvalley Facebook: facebook.com/LexiconValley Email: lexiconvalley@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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English is full of redundancies—so why are we bothered by only a select few? Slate Plus members get a bonus segment on Lexicon Valley each week, and no ads. Sign up now to listen and support our show. Twitter: @lexiconvalley Facebook: facebook.com/LexiconValley Email: lexiconvalley@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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April 27, 2021 40 min
John McWhorter teases his new book about off-color English expressions, starting with c!#k. Slate Plus members get a bonus segment on Lexicon Valley each week, and no ads.?Sign up now?to listen and support our show. Twitter: @lexiconvalley Facebook: facebook.com/LexiconValley Email: lexiconvalley@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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A single word—take "self," for example—reveals the thorny nature of literary translation. Slate Plus members get a bonus segment on Lexicon Valley each week, and no ads. Sign up now to listen and support our show. Twitter: @lexiconvalley Facebook: facebook.com/LexiconValley Email: lexiconvalley@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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March 30, 2021 44 min
Don't be fooled into thinking that English is a typical language. It's not. Slate Plus members get a bonus segment on Lexicon Valley each week, and no ads. Sign up now to listen and support our show. Twitter: @lexiconvalley Facebook: facebook.com/LexiconValley Email: lexiconvalley@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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March 16, 2021 43 min
For many languages, the idea that the subject belongs up front is plain backwards. Slate Plus members get a bonus segment on Lexicon Valley each week, and no ads. Sign up now to listen and support our show. Twitter: @lexiconvalley Facebook: facebook.com/LexiconValley Email: lexiconvalley@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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March 2, 2021 44 min
How did a word meaning "with bread" come to sprout its corporate connotation? Slate Plus members get a bonus segment on Lexicon Valley each week, and no ads. Sign up now to listen and support our show. Twitter: @lexiconvalley Facebook: facebook.com/LexiconValley Email: lexiconvalley@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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February 16, 2021 46 min
From the evolution of ain't to double negatives, simply saying no is wonderfully complex. Slate Plus members get a bonus segment on Lexicon Valley each week, and no ads. Sign up now to listen and support our show. Twitter: @lexiconvalley Facebook: facebook.com/LexiconValley Email: lexiconvalley@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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