Did Cavebabies Say Mama and Papa?Languages across the world developed similar words for mom and dad. How is that possible?
Mining Graffiti for SlangJohn McWhorter talks to Ben Zimmer about the Vietnam Graffiti Project and other slangy topics.
The Language of Female FriendshipsJohn McWhorter discusses communication styles with linguist Deborah Tannen.
Heyo, Let’s Talk About HamiltonJohn McWhorter talks to linguist Neal Whitman about the mashup of hey and yo.
Like, Why Do We Use Like So Much?John McWhorter talks to sociolinguist Alexandra D’Arcy about the spike in our use of like.
Why We Stopped Teaching Children How to ReadMark Seidenberg, author of Language at the Speed of Sight, discusses the fallout from the reading wars.
What 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?
Language Lessons of Past PresidentsWhat can we learn about English from Bill Clinton, the two Bushes, and other leaders of the free world?
Why Do People in Old Movies Talk Like That?What Bette Davis, FDR, and Ralph Kramden have in common when it comes to speech.
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.
Is There a Jewish Way of Talking?Interrupting the hosts of Unorthodox to discuss hallmarks and stereotypes of Jewish communication style.
That’s Not a Word, Is It?John McWhorter discusses the near-futile impulse to determine what is, and what is not, a word.
The Euphemism TreadmillThe evolution from crippled to handicapped to differently abled—and why no such term is likely to stick around long.
1930s American English Was Profane, Parochial, and ProvincialJohn McWhorter time-travels to 1930 and eavesdrops on American English.
What Had Happened Was StorytellingJohn McWhorter discusses the subject of his new book, Talking Back, Talking Black: Truths About America's Lingua Franca.
Away in a Penthouse, the Little Lord JesusWhen hath gave way to has, the original meaning of merry, and other insights from popular Christmas carols.
Black Like UsAre the slang, sounds, and syntax of black English a kind of lingua franca for America’s youth?
Whither Didst Thou Go?How our rich and complex system of second-person pronouns got whittled down to just you.
Billy 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?