230 episodes

Linguist Nicole Holliday and Wall Street Journal language columnist Ben Zimmer discuss the ways language is changing, talk to scholars and writers, and set and solve word puzzles.

Spectacular Vernacular Slate Magazine

    • Education
    • 4.5 • 101 Ratings

Linguist Nicole Holliday and Wall Street Journal language columnist Ben Zimmer discuss the ways language is changing, talk to scholars and writers, and set and solve word puzzles.

    Double Dutch

    Double Dutch

    On today’s episode of Spectacular Vernacular, Ben Zimmer tells Nicole Holliday how he’s been brushing up his Dutch. They also interview Cindy Blanco, senior learning specialist for the online language-learning app, Duolingo. And finally, we invite a listener to play a quiz that looks at the Dutch roots of some English words. We hope you’re ready!! You could win a year’s membership to Slate Plus.
    Do you have any language questions or fun facts to share? Email us at spectacular@slate.com.  
    Produced by Jasmine Ellis. 
    Here are some notes and references from this week’s show:
    Duolingo blog.
    Subscribe to Slate Plus. It’s only $1 for the first month. To learn more, go to slate.com/spectacularplus.
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    • 39 min
    How the Grid Kid Became King of the Online Spelling Bee

    How the Grid Kid Became King of the Online Spelling Bee

    On today’s episode of Spectacular Vernacular, Nicole Holliday and Ben Zimmer share their thoughts on Pfizer’s official name for its COVID vaccine. They also interview Sam Ezersky, digital puzzles editor for the New York Times, about the popular online game the Spelling Bee. And finally, we invite a listener to play our inspired version of the Spelling Bee. We hope you’ve been practicing! You could win a year’s membership to Slate Plus.
    Do you have any language questions or fun facts to share? Email us at spectacular@slate.com.  
    Produced by Jasmine Ellis. 
    Subscribe to Slate Plus. It’s only $1 for the first month. To learn more, go to slate.com/spectacularplus.
    Here are some notes and references from this week’s show:
    Rewordable: https://rewordable.com/
    BLABRECS: https://mkremins.github.io/blabrecs/
    Lisa Davidson on Comirnaty: https://slate.com/technology/2021/08/comirnaty-pfizer-vaccine-linguistics.html
    New York Times Spelling Bee: https://www.nytimes.com/puzzles/spelling-bee
    Spelling Bee Forum: https://www.nytimes.com/spotlight/spelling-bee-forum
    Laura Lippman on her Spelling Bee obsession: https://slate.com/human-interest/2020/02/spelling-bee-new-york-times-praise.html
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    • 33 min
    Sponsored: How Can We Improve Our Communication Skills to Strengthen Our Relationships?

    Sponsored: How Can We Improve Our Communication Skills to Strengthen Our Relationships?

    This episode of The Relentless is all about how to be a good communicator in an evolving, digital world. Host Kristen Meinzer talks to three guests who have valuable insights and perspectives about communication dynamics, both on and offline: Erica Dhawan, communication expert and author of Digital Body Language and Get Big Things Done, and Michael and Matthew Atwood, co-owners of Atwood Management and hosts of the Realty Brothers podcast. Their conversations explore how we can translate listening skills and body language to the digital realm, and why good communication is key to developing lasting relationships built on trust.

    Guests
    Erica Dhawan: Communication expert, advisor author, and speaker
    Michael and Matthew Atwood: Co-owners of Atwood Management and CENTURY 21 Atwood, and hosts of the Realty Brothers podcast
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    • 30 min
    TikTok Language Rabbit Hole

    TikTok Language Rabbit Hole

    On today’s episode of Spectacular Vernacular, Nicole Holliday shows Ben Zimmer an entertaining TikTok video that does some fascinating things with language. They also interview Norma Mendoza-Denton, professor of anthropology at UCLA, about her recently published article “ ‘Sticking It to the Man’: r/wallstreetbets, Generational Masculinity and Revenge in Narratives of our Dystopian Capitalist Age.” And finally, a listener joins us for some wordplay that will put your geography skills to the test. We hope you’re ready! You could win a year’s membership to Slate Plus.
    Do you have any language questions or fun facts to share? Email us at spectacular@slate.com.  
    Produced by Jasmine Ellis and Cheyna Roth. 
    Subscribe to Slate Plus. It’s only $1 for the first month. To learn more, go to slate.com/spectacularplus.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 31 min
    Taking Home the Gold in Language

    Taking Home the Gold in Language

    On today’s episode of Spectacular Vernacular, hosts Ben Zimmer and Nicole Holliday chat about language at the Olympics in Tokyo. They also chat with linguist Arika Okrent about her new book, Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don't Rhyme―And Other Oddities of the English Language. (Check out an essay Okrent wrote about the English spelling system.) And finally, we have our first guest joining us for a fun quiz segment that you don’t want to miss. 
    Do you have any language questions or fun facts to share? Email us at spectacular@slate.com. You can also use that email address to let us know if you’d like to take part in a future episode, where we’ll bring in listeners for some challenging wordplay.  
    Produced by Jasmine Ellis and Cheyna Roth. 
    Subscribe to Slate Plus. It’s only $1 for the first month. To learn more, go to slate.com/spectacularplus. 
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 29 min
    They Might Be Linguists

    They Might Be Linguists

    Welcome to Spectacular Vernacular, Slate’s new podcast about language! In our inaugural episode, hosts Ben Zimmer and Nicole Holliday marvel at Zaila Avant-garde’s historic win at Scripps National Spelling Bee. They also chat with They Might Be Giants’, John Linnell, about creating his new pandemic project in Latin. And finally, they do some fun language puzzles, and you can play along at home. 
    Do you have any language questions or fun facts to share? Email us at spectacular@slate.com. You can also use that email address to let us know if you’d like to take part in a future episode, where we’ll bring in listeners for some challenging wordplay.  
    You can listen to John Linnell’s new EP here.
    Produced by Jasmine Ellis and Cheyna Roth. 
    Subscribe to Slate Plus. It’s only $1 for the first month. To learn more, go to slate.com/spectacularplus.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 31 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
101 Ratings

101 Ratings

Good Reason ,

Love the reboot!

Ben and Nicole are super. News, guests, wordplay, and above all, linguistic expertise. Spectacular Vernacular has become one of my don’t-miss linguistic podcasts.

Emma Twenty ,

Never mind the musicals

Such an interesting podcast, I really look forward to listening to each episode.

I’ve even grown to like the bits where John says to the audience ‘you’re going to hate this musical but I’m playing it anyway’. Learn about language from someone who’s totally themselves and not going to let anyone stop them playing random showtunes no one has heard of on the thinnest pretexts.

A245245542643263 ,

Lexicon valley has moved to a new feed

This feed has changed to a totally different show.

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