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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 or fun facts to share? Email us at You can also use that email address to let us know if you’d like to take part in a future episode, where we’ll bring in listeners for some challenging wordplay.   You can listen to John Linnell’s new EP here. Produced by Jasmine Ellis and Cheyna Roth.  Subscribe to Slate Plus. It’s only $1 for the first month. To learn more, go to Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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