Blog Profile / Slate: Lexicon Valley

Filed Under:Academics / Linguistics
Posts on Regator:606
Posts / Week:1.7
Archived Since:June 9, 2008

Blog Post Archive

This Word Is Toast: Slang From Cult Films

Cult films are slippery customers. One person's cult film is another's mainstream hit, and both would probably be prepared to fight to the death to defend their opinion. For some, a film can only be described as "cult" if just a handful of people have seen it. Show More Summary

Let’s Break Shit: A Short History of Silicon Valley’s Favorite Phrase

The New Republic as we know it is broken, and the looming question is whether that breakage will produce anything more intellectually valuable or economically viable than a dust cloud of corporate jargon. In New York, Jonathan ChaitShow More Summary

Why Trans Caught On

In the late 1990s, I attended a conference focused on "those who identify at the male end of the gender spectrum." At the end of the conference, organizers asked each participant to fill out an exit poll, intended to capture demographic information about conference attendees. Show More Summary

Why Do Brits Say Maths and Americans Say Math?

The Imitation Game, a glossy new biopic about the British cryptanalyst Alan Turing, features a lot of maths. Characters take advanced maths classes that require them to scribble complicated maths on notebook paper, and then they set their sights on the devilish maths of the Nazi Enigma machine. Show More Summary

The Stimulating History of Coffee: Why You Hear This Word Around the World

Imagine that you’re flying Turkish Air. The beverage cart bumps down the aisle. A flight attendant holds up that little carafe and asks, kah-vay? You travel a lot. Now you’re flying Finnair. The beverage cart bumps down the aisle. Show More Summary

Dumbwatches, Pinch-to-Zoom, and Glanceability: New Words via Technology

Even the least tech-savvy lexicographer understands that technology is a robust source of new words. As technologies move from the realm of science fiction into our everyday realities, new words and meanings spring up around them. While...Show More Summary

Young Women Shouldn’t Have to Talk Like Men to Be Taken Seriously

If you're a young woman, you've probably been told there's something wrong with your voice. It seems like there are always new features of women’s speech that need to be corrected, be it uptalk, vocal fry, higher pitch, swoopy intonation...Show More Summary

The Plague of Fake Paraphrasing

Countless foreheads hit countless keyboards at 11:23 on Dec. 16, when Wolf Blitzer, reacting to Jeb Bush’s Twitter teasing of a Facebook announcement that he “will actively explore the possibility of running for President of theShow More Summary

Don’t Stay Classy

Occasionally a word wends its way into the cockles of whatever the Internet has instead of a heart. Classy, the adjectival equivalent of a graceful, pearl-draped woman in a ball gown, is one example. It joins the ranks of such preprogrammed Web responses as “SMDH,” “this,” and ¯\_(?)_/¯. This (THIS!) is a shame (SMDH). Show More Summary

Language Travel Tips: How to Talk to Someone Who Doesn’t Speak Much English

People travel a lot these days—and they're often speaking English when doing it, even if it's not their first language. If you're already fluent, you've definitely got an advantage talking to someone who's not very proficient in English, but you may still find yourself at a loss. Show More Summary

Is It Kosher to Talk About the “Pot Calling the Kettle Black”?

Welcome to Lexicon Valley’s new feature, “Is That Kosher?” A fuller linguistic arsenal leads to richer, chewier, more diverse expression—but when is the usefulness of a piece of language outweighed by the pain it causes? In “Is That Kosher?” we’ll reflect on certain words or phrases that lie in the margins of acceptability. Show More Summary

Why the F Aren’t You Reading This New Blog About Swearing?

If you aren’t reading Strong Language, a new “sweary blog about swearing” from linguists James Harbeck and Stan Carey, you really fucking should. This cheerful temple to the vulgar and profane has only been around for a few weeks,...Show More Summary

What Can Popular Presents Tell Us About Linguistics? A (Metaphorical) Gift Guide.

Mele Kalikimaka may be the Hawaiian way to shine your linguistic star this holiday season, but how can us word nerds and language-curious types share our passion in a more tangible way? Is there anything to spin our dreidels and jingle...Show More Summary

The Weird, Embarrassing, Fascinating Things People Asked Librarians Before the Internet

Before Google came along to offer us confidential answers to our most embarrassing, random, and incriminating questions, librarians roamed the earth. They fielded anonymous queries by phone and in person; transcribed on index cards, some of those scraps of curiosity (in both senses) were customarily filed and stored away. Show More Summary

Did You Miss Any Great Language Writing This Year? Top Lexicon Valley Posts of 2014.

Did you miss any great language-related writing on the Lexicon Valley blog this year? Based on a combination of shares, views, and reader feedback, here are the 10 posts on Lexicon Valley that readers liked best in 2014. For the sake...Show More Summary

When Brands Cry “Bae,” This Twitter Account Is on It

Here is a confession: IHOP knew about fleek before I did. “Our pancakes stay on fleek,” the corporation tweeted in November. And on Halloween: “How fleek are they?” (the pancakes). And a week earlier: “We StAy On FLeEk, bb.” A...Show More Summary

The Thing About “Bright Young Things”

I remember the first time someone called me a “bright young thing.” I was an intern, seeking more stable employment, and one of my bosses (a great guy, whom I like and respect tremendously) said he’d poke around his network to see if anyone had an opening for a bright young thing like me. Show More Summary

How Stuart Scott Made Booyah His Own

The obituaries for ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott have inevitably focused on one word as an emblem of his exuberantly slangy style: Booyah! Scott peppered his SportsCenter highlight rundowns with many signature catchphrases, from the...Show More Summary

Why We Should Declare an Emoticon of the Year

You've heard about the words of the year—Oxford's vape, Merriam-Webster's culture, and's exposure, to name a few. And perhaps you're even eagerly awaiting the American Dialect Society's own WOTY vote, which will take place this coming weekend (I'll be live-tweeting from it!). Show More Summary

Great Moments in Swearing: The “GD Big Car” Edition

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. I recently viewed for the first time Martin Scorsese’s 2013 The Wolf of Wall Street, a rather Shakespearean tale of Jordan Belfort’s excess in money, sex, drugs, and swears, inter alia. Show More Summary

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