Lexicon Valley
Lexicon Valley

The Fall and Rise of the Singular They

A pronoun that English borrowed from its Scandinavian neighbors gets new life as a gender-neutral alternative to he and she.

Jan. 11 2016 11:55 AMThe Origins of In Cahoots: Four Theories
Dec. 14 2015 9:23 AMSo You Just Got Eighty-Sixed From a Bar. Why That Number?Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the early-20th-century origins of a bizarre food-industry code with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.
Nov. 16 2015 12:05 PMWoody Guthrie’s Folk Etymology. It’s a Hootenanny!Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a word that was popularized during the 1940s folk movement with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.
Oct. 19 2015 10:47 AMA Drone, a Bell, and a Suffix. It’s a Real Humdinger!The panelists discuss a piece of old American slang.
Sept. 21 2015 9:46 AMAn Ambitious Enterprise, Quixotic and UnavailingBob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a very wasteful word with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.
Aug. 24 2015 11:08 AMWhy Do Latin Americans Call English Speakers Gringos?Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the origin of a Spanish-language pejorative with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.
July 27 2015 11:02 AMThe Jittery History of a Very Nervous PhraseBob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.
June 29 2015 2:52 PMLinguaFile XIII: Don’t Be a Clown!Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.
June 1 2015 9:59 AMGuess the Mystery Word!Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a mystery word or phrase with lexicographer Ben Zimmer.
May 4 2015 11:14 AMAttention Southerners: Here’s Why You Love SeersuckerListen to Slate’s show about a well-traveled fabric, featuring lexicographer Ben Zimmer.
April 6 2015 12:32 PMWhy Is Pumpernickel Bread Named for a Farting Devil?Listen to Slate’s show about the flatulent history of a popular deli staple, featuring lexicographer Ben Zimmer.
March 9 2015 10:29 AMTwo Theories on the Origin of CarnivalListen to Slate’s show about the contested origin of a gluttonous word, featuring lexicographer Ben Zimmer.
Feb. 10 2015 7:45 AMSlate Voice: “Why Do Brits Say Maths and Americans Say Math?”Listen to Katy Waldman read her piece about doing the maths.
Feb. 9 2015 8:12 AMHow Should Slate Write About Bruce Jenner?  Outward editor Bryan Lowder shares a memo on writing about transgender issues. 
Jan. 12 2015 12:48 PMThe Etymology of Cockamamie Is Just ThatListen to Slate’s show about the Yiddish-inflected origin of a crazy word, featuring lexicographer Ben Zimmer.
Dec. 28 2015 9:32 AMTears of Joy, Identity, and a Prism of IsmsBob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to editors at Oxford, Merriam-Webster, and Dictionary.com about their picks for Word of the Year.
Nov. 30 2015 10:50 AMWhen Did We Start Using Sleep as a Stand-In for Sex and Death?
Nov. 2 2015 9:14 AMA Cat, a Coward, and Female GenitaliaBob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the etymological quirkiness of the word pussy.
Oct. 5 2015 11:32 AMSeven Centuries of F--ksBob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to Jesse Sheidlower, author of The F-Word, about a recent discovery about the history of one our most enduring expletives.
Sept. 8 2015 10:39 AMHow Did New York Become the Big Apple?
Aug. 10 2015 11:11 AMWhat Do We Mean When We Ask What Something Is Like?Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss “A literary history of the strange expression ‘what is it like?’ ”—an article by lexicographer Anne Seaton.
July 13 2015 9:20 AMWhat’s the Deal With Translating Seinfeld?A discussion about why the classic American sitcom falls flat in other cultures and languages.
June 19 2015 12:44 PMLanguage Has a Positivity Bias. How Did We Measure That?Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss recent research that confirms the so-called Pollyanna Hypothesis.
May 18 2015 11:14 AM“I Always Believed That Created Languages Were Art Pieces”Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to conlanger David J. Peterson about the art and craft of inventing languages for Game of Thrones.
April 20 2015 11:30 AMShakespeare Used Double Negatives. Why Don't We?Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo don't know nothing.
March 23 2015 10:35 AMIs “Try And” an Acceptable Substitute for “Try To”?Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss a quirk of grammar that Henry Fowler believed “should not be discountenanced.”
Feb. 23 2015 3:07 PMSex WorkersUniversity of Michigan professor Anne Curzan discusses -ess, -ette, -trix, and other feminine endings in the English language.
Feb. 9 2015 10:27 AMDid the Word Quiz Result From a Bet?Listen to Slate’s show about a supposed historical wager and the neologism it spawned, featuring lexicographer Ben Zimmer.
Jan. 26 2015 11:20 AMThe Many Lives of Anna KareninaJournalist and author Masha Gessen discusses the challenge of translating a literary masterpiece.
Dec. 29 2014 11:29 AMLexicon Valley: Lexicographers Explain Their Words of the Year

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