John H. McWhorter
John H. McWhorter

John H. McWhorter teaches linguistics, philosophy, and music at Columbia University. His latest book is The Language Hoax.

Lexicon Valley
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.
Lexicon Valley
March 21 2017 4:31 PM1930s American English Was Profane, Parochial, and ProvincialJohn McWhorter time-travels to 1930 and eavesdrops on American English.
Lexicon Valley
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.
Lexicon Valley
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.
Lexicon Valley
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?
Lexicon Valley
Nov. 1 2016 3:18 PMWhither Didst Thou Go?How our rich and complex system of second-person pronouns got whittled down to just you.
Lexicon Valley
Oct. 4 2016 12:03 PMBilly and Me Went to the Store. Deal With It.What do the intricacies of the future tense tell us about the unwritten rules of pronouns?
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 6 2016 5:06 PMHickory Dickory Dock: The Invisible Language of Nursery RhymesJohn McWhorter makes linguistic sense of seemingly arbitrary children’s verse.
Lexicon Valley
Aug. 23 2016 2:20 PMWord SexHow words hook up and make new ones.
Lexicon Valley
July 26 2016 2:13 PMAre Emojis a Language?Gretchen McCulloch talks to John McWhorter about the big meaning behind our favorite little pictograms.
Lexicon Valley
June 29 2016 10:44 AMRules Are Made to Be SpokenSali Tagliamonte, author of Making Waves: The Story of Variationist Sociolinguistics, talks about the underlying disorder of the English language.
Lexicon Valley
May 31 2016 12:16 PMWhy Are So Many Swear Words Monosyllabic?Benjamin K. Bergen, author of the upcoming What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves, discusses the science of cursing.
Lexicon Valley
April 4 2017 1:31 PMHeyo, Let’s Talk About HamiltonJohn McWhorter talks to linguist Neal Whitman about the mashup of hey and yo.
Lexicon Valley
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.
Lexicon Valley
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.
Lexicon Valley
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?
Lexicon Valley
Nov. 15 2016 2:00 PMLanguage Lessons of Past PresidentsWhat can we learn about English from Bill Clinton, the two Bushes, and other leaders of the free world?
Lexicon Valley
Oct. 18 2016 3:55 PMWhy Do People in Old Movies Talk Like That?What Bette Davis, FDR, and Ralph Kramden have in common when it comes to speech.
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 20 2016 1:26 PMWhat Is a Dictionary, Really?John Simpson, former editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, talks about life as a lexicographer.
Lexicon Valley
Aug. 24 2016 9:30 AMWhy Is Colored Person Hurtful and Person of Color OK? A Theory of Racial Euphemisms.
Lexicon Valley
Aug. 8 2016 3:33 PMShould Shakespeare Get a Modern-English Update?John McWhorter talks with author Jack Lynch about the sacrilege of modified Shakespeare.
Lexicon Valley
July 12 2016 7:30 AMFinding Life in a Dead LanguageAnn Patty, author of Living With a Dead Language, talks about her transformative experience of learning Latin.
Lexicon Valley
June 14 2016 4:11 PMEnglish Spelling Is a Mess. It’s Time to Reform It.Etymologist and poet Anatoly Liberman, author of Word Origins and How We Know Them, says English is one of the most difficult languages to spell. But we can change that.
Books
Aug. 4 2015 11:09 AMFrom Tapestries to Texting BubblesMatthew Battles’ Palimpsest is a “history of the written word” that misunderstands exactly how our relationship to the written word has changed.