I want to take a break for a moment from my own content to share with you some other content that entertains, edifies, and enriches me on a regular basis: Lexicon Valley, a blog and podcast on all things language published by Slate. Perhaps you already know about the enterprise, but if you don’t, I suggest you change that pronto.
The blog features engaging writing on truly eclectic, language-based topics by some of the best language writers working right now. On the blog, recent posts include:
- Gretchen McCulloch’s “How Do You Rhyme in Sign Language?”
- Arika Orent’s “Why Isn’t ‘Arkansas’ Pronounced Like ‘Kansas'”?
- James Harbeck’s “We Have Ahold and Awhile, So Why Not Alot?”
- Ben Yagoda’s “Why It’s Not So Unreasonable to Spell ‘Espresso’ With an X”
These are writers I follow–and look up to–on Twitter (see below), and I suggest you do the same. The writers’ special genius, and in many ways Slate’s overarching genius, is their twofold inquisitiveness: They pose questions we’ve all wondered at one point or another or pose questions you’d never think to ask in the first place.
The podcast, featuring the cool-headed descriptivist Mike Vuolo and curious curmudgeon Bob Garfield (of NPR’s On the Media), deserves your immediate binge-listening. Recently, they’ve added the illustrious linguist and lexicographer (executive producer of Vocabulary.com and Visual Thesaurus, where he writes “Word Routes”; columnist for the Wall Street Journal; and go-to language commentator for just about any media worth engaging with) on a regular segment, “LinguaFile,” which focuses on the history of particular word. In so many ways, this is the Mashed Radish’s Platonic form, its Aristotelian actualization.
Some of my favorites include:
- Episode 36 (“Where Did the Word Dude Come From?)
- Episode 15 (“Talking About the Past in the Present Tense”)
- Episode 7 (“So…”)
Listen to them. Listen to them all. The podcast is available on iTunes and SoundCloud, and I’m sure you can find it in other places. Their latest LinguaFile is on…well, I let you guess it. That’s part of the fun. But, I have to say with not a little pride, I feel I ‘beat’ these word nerd heroes to it in my post from about a year ago.
For more from all of the above, follow:
- Gretchen McCulloch @GretchenAMcC
- Arika Okrent @arikaokrent
- James Harbeck @sesquiotic
- Ben Yagoda @byagoda
- Bob Garfield @Bobosphere
- Ben Zimmer @bgzimmer
- Lexicon Valley @lexiconvalley
We’ve got a lot of good word origins coming your way this fall. And perhaps some new textures, if we’re lucky.