A Riot of ColorOur word for red predates our word for blue—and that’s true for almost every language!
Wabbit TwacksA linguistic analysis of Looney Tunes.
Happy Birthday, OED!We raise an etymological glass to the nonagenarian Oxford English Dictionary.
The Pronouning of ProfanitiesWords like f--- and sh-- are increasingly standing in for it and that.
The Art of the SpielA brief history of oratory from the Gilded Age to the era of Trump.
The Story of PThe 16th letter of our alphabet is a fancy little thing.
Did the Founding Fathers Have a British Accent?What we know about what Washington, Franklin, and Hamilton may have sounded like.
The Inner Workings of OutOn the rich complexities of a humble preposition.
What’s the Deal With Eleven?On the etymology and pronunciation of English numbers.
The Thing Is IsThe problem is, is that we sometimes say is twice. Why?
Thanksgiving MisnomersTurkey? Pumpkin? Squash? They’re all mistakes.
Against Strunk and WhiteIt’s time to permanently shelve The Elements of Style.
Este No Es Parqueo: A Brief Ode to SpanishAn infelicitous parking job inspires musings on the Spanish language.
Do Languages Simplify Over Time?Old English was arguably more complicated than Modern English. Is that true of all languages?
New Life for Dying LanguagesThe Language Conservancy’s Wil Meya discusses the effort to revive Native American languages.
The Rise of TheyEnglish pronouns are evolving, and it’s time to embrace it.
Tee TimeWhat the French Canadian version of The Flintstones can teach us about the letter T.
If Frozen, Why Not Squozen?Language lessons from this year’s Tony nominees for Best Musical.
One Tongue to Rule Them AllThe tantalizing prospect of a universal language.
Getting to YesThe making of our compact, workaday affirmative.
English Spelling Is a Beautiful MessEnglish spelling is so frustratingly idiosyncratic. Here’s why.
No-Uh!On the rise of an exclamatory syllable in English.
Words, for HerOn the origin of woman, girl, and other lady terms.
There Are Two N-WordsLike gangster and gangsta, nigger and nigga have become two distinct words.
An Accidental SanctityBiblical scholar Mark Ward discusses his forthcoming book, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible.
Sometimes Just BecauseLanguage is often at the mercy of pure chance.
Whence Baby Mama?John McWhorter answers questions from Lexicon Valley listeners.
From Pidgins to CreolesWhen languages collide and creoles are born.
Did Cavebabies Say Mama and Papa?Languages across the world developed similar words for mom and dad. How is that possible?
In the NegativeJohn McWhorter on the history and evolution of no and not.