Blog Profile / Slate: Lexicon Valley


URL :http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley.html
Filed Under:Academics / Linguistics
Posts on Regator:718
Posts / Week:1.8
Archived Since:June 9, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Documenting the Diversity of American English

“Gas is really expensive anymore.” “He’s goes to school in Boston—so don’t I.” “I need me a salad.” To a high school English teacher or self-styled grammarian, the above sentences are likely cringe-worthy. To most native speakers of English, in fact, they would sound either inelegant or incorrect. Show More Summary

We Keep Pronouncing Voldemort’s Name Wrong and J.K. Rowling Has Given Up

Bad news, fellow Slytherins, we’ve been pronouncing the Dark Lord’s name wrong. It’s not Vol-deh-mort, with a t at the end. It’s Vol-deh-mor. The final consonant is silent, as in the French word for death, mort, which is pronounced like the purple wilderness in which Heathcliff hanged puppies long ago. J.K. Show More Summary

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find Out What It Means to Scalia

Words may have lost all meaning to the Supreme Court, as Antonin Scalia suggested Thursday in his dissent from the King v. Burwell decision to uphold health care subsidies, but there’s one word that has a meaning quite particular to the Supreme Court: respectfully. Show More Summary

Check Out the Trailer for Do I Sound Gay?

What does it mean to “sound gay"? Is there a gay voice? A gay lilt? A gay inflection? We posed these questions on an episode of the Lexicon Valley podcast last fall, and now a new documentary from filmmaker David Thorpe, called Do IShow More Summary

It’s Time to Speak Up About the Overuse of “Speaking Out”

North Carolina florist Deborah Dills was driving to work when she spotted Dylann Roof, the suspected gunman, seemingly fleeing his Charleston, South Carolina, murder scene. She called the cops, then tailed Roof’s car for 35 miles until police caught up with him. Show More Summary

Why We Be Loving the “Habitual Be”

Who be eating cookies? That’s the question that the University of Maryland at Baltimore’s Janice Jackson asked children in a now-famous study on “the habitual be.” Have you heard of this creature? Though it sounds like the yellow jacket perpetually hard at work on your hydrangea, it is not. Show More Summary

Sacré Bleu! Why Is Blue the Most Profane Color?

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. Blue humor, blue movies, blue talk—what’s so obscene about the color blue? Nobody really knows, as it turns out. The origin of blue in the sense of lewd,...Show More Summary

Did Bill Simmons Get Fired for “Testicular Fortitude”? Where Does the Phrase Come From?

The long and contentious relationship between Bill Simmons and his employer, ESPN, came to an end on Friday, and the last straw may have been his use of a two-word phrase: testicular fortitude. On Thursday, Simmons blasted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on The Dan Patrick Show over the release of the Deflategate report. Show More Summary

The World’s Dirtiest Wine Names  

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. Wine brands, especially in the upstart, insecure New World, used to strain to sound serious and Frenchy-fancy. You had your Domains, your Clos, your Chateaus (“Pure Sonoma”!). Show More Summary

Notes on Notes

“Very often,” mourned the French philosopher Antonin Sertillanges, “gleams of light come in a few minutes’ sleeplessness, in a second perhaps…There is every chance that on the morrow there will be no slightest trace left of any happening.” Unless you own a smartphone. Show More Summary

The Tolstoy of the Zulus. The Citizen Kane of Video Games. Subsumptive Analogies are the Hitler of Figurative Speech! 

Among many other American infamies past, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the World and Me conjures the ghost of an old Saul Bellow controversy. Bellow, a tetchy critic of multiculturalism in his later life, once asked an interviewer:Show More Summary

We Keep Pronouncing Voldemort's Name Wrong and J.K. Rowling Has Given Up

Bad news, fellow Slytherins, we’ve been pronouncing the Dark Lord’s name wrong. It’s not Vol-deh-mort, with a “t” at the end. It’s Vol-deh-mor. The final consonant is silent, as in the French word for death, mort, which is pronounced like the purple wilderness in which Heathcliff hanged puppies long ago. J.K. Show More Summary

The White Poet Who Used an Asian Pseudonym to Get Published Is a Cheater, Not a Crusader

Congratulations to Yi-Fen Chou, whose poem “The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve” was selected for inclusion in the Best American Poetry anthology for 2015. BAP, launched in 1988 by the writer and professor David Lehman, is co-edited every year by a visiting literary starlord. Show More Summary

Poignant Short Stories Composed Entirely of Example Sentences From the Dictionary

One of my favorite parts of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is when the contestants ask for a word to be used in a sentence. The sentences—which occasionally name-drop Drake or quote Kelis—are gems in their own right, but are rarely actually helpful when it comes to understanding how a word is used. Show More Summary

What Is the F--kboy?

A good insult requires no elaboration. We feel it before we understand it. That’s why some slurs resonate even when we’re not sure who or what they’re defaming. Consider the strange case of fuckboy, which plays a central role in Nancy...Show More Summary

I Uptalk and I Creak. Your Complaints Won’t Change That.

Articles with headlines like “Things Women Do When Speaking That Really Annoy Me” have appeared ad nauseam in recent years on blogs, in newspapers, and even on network newscasts. As if centuries of policing our bodies and our behavior were somehow insufficient, the precise pitch and vibration of our every utterance is now a subject of debate. Show More Summary

Alphabet Is the Worst Name the New Google Could Have Called Itself

In a surprise Monday statement, Google announced it will subordinate itself to a newly created parent company named Alphabet, whose holdings will include former Google departments like its experimental research and fiber optics arms....Show More Summary

Heebie Jeebies: The 1920s Dance Craze That Helped Launch Louis Armstrong

The following is excerpted from my book Louis Armstrong, Master of Modernism. It has been edited for clarity and length. As lexicographer Ben Zimmer pointed out recently on an episode of Slate's Lexicon Valley podcast, the phrase heebie-jeebies...Show More Summary

Assessing Jeb Bush’s Bilingualism

A version of this post appeared on Language Log. Jeb Bush gave a Spanish-language interview on Sunday with Telemundo's José Díaz-Balart. This is the first time since the launch of his presidential campaign that his functional bilingualism...Show More Summary

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