Lexicon Valley
Lexicon Valley

The Inner Workings of Out

On the rich complexities of a humble preposition.

Feb. 6 2018 10:05 AMWords, for HerOn the origin of woman, girl, and other lady terms.
Jan. 9 2018 11:32 AMThere Are Two N-WordsLike gangster and gangsta, nigger and nigga have become two distinct words.
Dec. 12 2017 10:00 AMAn Accidental SanctityBiblical scholar Mark Ward discusses his forthcoming book, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible.
Nov. 14 2017 1:15 PMSometimes Just BecauseLanguage is often at the mercy of pure chance.
Oct. 17 2017 1:44 PMWhence Baby Mama?John McWhorter answers questions from Lexicon Valley listeners.
Sept. 19 2017 11:17 AMFrom Pidgins to CreolesWhen languages collide and creoles are born.
Aug. 22 2017 10:27 AMDid Cavebabies Say Mama and Papa?Languages across the world developed similar words for mom and dad. How is that possible?
July 25 2017 1:01 PMIn the NegativeJohn McWhorter on the history and evolution of no and not.
June 27 2017 11:47 AMThe Eccentric Irregularity of BeingThe enduring unusualness of the verb to be.
May 30 2017 4:18 PMMining Graffiti for SlangJohn McWhorter talks to Ben Zimmer about the Vietnam Graffiti Project and other slangy topics.
May 2 2017 2:02 PMThe Language of Female FriendshipsJohn McWhorter discusses communication styles with linguist Deborah Tannen.
April 4 2017 1:31 PMHeyo, Let’s Talk About HamiltonJohn McWhorter talks to linguist Neal Whitman about the mashup of hey and yo.
Feb. 7 2017 1:05 PMLike, Why Do We Use Like So Much?John McWhorter talks to sociolinguist Alexandra D’Arcy about the spike in our use of like.
Jan. 10 2017 1:13 PMWhy We Stopped Teaching Children How to ReadMark Seidenberg, author of Language at the Speed of Sight, discusses the fallout from the reading wars.
Dec. 13 2016 3:33 PMWhat The Wizard of Oz Can Tell Us About ArrivalIn Arrival, Amy Adams plays a linguist who discovers that language can radically alter a person’s perception of reality. But is that true?
Jan. 23 2018 1:32 PMWhat’s the Deal With Eleven?On the etymology and pronunciation of English numbers.
Dec. 27 2017 9:24 AMThe Thing Is IsThe problem is, is that we sometimes say is twice. Why?
Nov. 28 2017 11:36 AMThanksgiving MisnomersTurkey? Pumpkin? Squash? They’re all mistakes.
Oct. 31 2017 12:40 PMAgainst Strunk and WhiteIt’s time to permanently shelve The Elements of Style.
Oct. 3 2017 12:55 PMEste No Es Parqueo: A Brief Ode to SpanishAn infelicitous parking job inspires musings on the Spanish language.
Sept. 5 2017 1:13 PMDo Languages Simplify Over Time?Old English was arguably more complicated than Modern English. Is that true of all languages?
Aug. 8 2017 2:31 PMNew Life for Dying LanguagesThe Language Conservancy’s Wil Meya discusses the effort to revive Native American languages.
July 11 2017 12:33 PMWhy Do Languages Have Contractions?An explanation for our love of shrinkage.
June 13 2017 1:36 PMIs There a Jewish Way of Talking?Interrupting the hosts of Unorthodox to discuss hallmarks and stereotypes of Jewish communication style.
May 16 2017 12:47 PMThat’s Not a Word, Is It?John McWhorter discusses the near-futile impulse to determine what is, and what is not, a word.
April 18 2017 3:36 PMThe Euphemism TreadmillThe evolution from crippled to handicapped to differently abled—and why no such term is likely to stick around long.
March 21 2017 4:31 PM1930s American English Was Profane, Parochial, and ProvincialJohn McWhorter time-travels to 1930 and eavesdrops on American English.
Jan. 24 2017 12:04 PMWhat Had Happened Was StorytellingJohn McWhorter discusses the subject of his new book, Talking Back, Talking Black: Truths About America's Lingua Franca.
Dec. 27 2016 1:10 PMAway in a Penthouse, the Little Lord JesusWhen hath gave way to has, the original meaning of merry, and other insights from popular Christmas carols.
Nov. 30 2016 12:03 PMBlack Like UsAre the slang, sounds, and syntax of black English a kind of lingua franca for America’s youth?