Blog Profile / Slate: Lexicon Valley

Filed Under:Academics / Linguistics
Posts on Regator:794
Posts / Week:1.9
Archived Since:June 9, 2008

Blog Post Archive

From Cool McCool to Boaty McBoatface: An Investigationy McInvestigation

The U.K.’s Natural Environment Research Council developed an adorable notion this week, prompting the kind of tempest British Internet users love to discover in their online teapots. The organization needed an “inspirational” name for its new $288 million polar research ship, so it thought it should maybe ask the Internet for suggestions. Show More Summary

The Problem With “That’s Problematic”

The author of this piece won the second Slate Plus Pitch Slam. If you’d like to participate in future pitch slams, consider becoming a member. Visit to learn more. As a women’s studies graduate student and college instructor,...Show More Summary

Is This the First Great Work of “Facebook Fiction”?

On Tuesday, March 15, a mysterious letter appeared in the secure dropbox of the writer Robin Sloan—along with instructions to post the letter’s contents to Facebook, which Sloan did. The message unspooled the saga of an anonymous Facebook employee who’d accidentally discovered a curious property of an internal company application called Enchilada. Show More Summary

Spectacularly Sweary Links

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. Unpresidential profanity, parental profanity, constabulary profanity, embroidered profanity, and more. Constant cursing (“bomb the shit out of,” “kick their...Show More Summary

Do Our Names Shape Our Destinies? Trump’s Might.

Donald Trump continues to ace the presidential primaries. He is proving quite adept at wooing states and groups of voters that were supposed to be easy victories for his Republican opponents. Whether winning over white evangelical voters...Show More Summary

Carnal Conversations in Antony and Cleopatra

This post originally appeared in Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. You want to hear a dirty joke? You don’t have to go to a schoolyard, locker room, comedy club, or even a Republican presidential debate. No, simply go to...Show More Summary

My Question Is the Following Statement

The President’s science advisor, the US undersecretary of energy, and the heads of both NASA and the National Science Foundation sit at the front of a room, offering visions for the future of science from each of their unique perspectives. Show More Summary

Jane Hirshfield Wrote the Perfect Poem for Leap Day

Jane Hirshfield, a poet and translator known for her clean lines and elegant, conversational style, published her newest collection, The Beauty, just last year. Longlisted for the National Book Award, The Beauty joins Come, Thief (2011),...Show More Summary

When Nepali Gets Naughty 

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. It’s always entertaining to look up rude words in a dictionary. This activity can tell you something about the editor, and perhaps the intended audience....Show More Summary

How “-Splain” Became Our Most Meaningless Suffix

“-splain,” tweeted Jonathan Chait earlier this month, responding to a New York Times editorial titled “Stop Bernie-Splaining to Black Voters,” has become an “all-purpose shorthand for ad hominem argument.” Scores of Internet wits proved...Show More Summary

The Trumpian Conditional

This post originally appeared on Language Log. After Pope Francis suggested that Donald Trump's plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border makes him not-so-Christian, Trump fired back with a written statement that begins with aShow More Summary

Is Hillary Trying to Be the First Woman President, Female President, or Lady President?

An editor at this magazine recently observed that his writers had, in recent years, begun to file stories populated by woman doctors and woman CEOs and woman senators. This trend, reflected in the writing of both man and woman writers, runs afoul of Slate style, which holds that the adjective for woman is female. Show More Summary

Sit Down. “Standing With” Some Important Cause Doesn’t Make You a Hero.

Though we tend to interact with it while seated, the Internet abounds with exhortations to stand. Last year gave us the prominent hashtag campaigns #StandwithPP and #IStandWithAhmed (for Planned Parenthood and Ahmed Mohamed, the 14 year-old...Show More Summary

Studies in Sweary Syntax

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. In September, Mr. Zimmer wrote a post on Strong Language about the first trailer for the movie, The Martian. The piece focuses on one line in particular, said by the stranded astronaut Mark Watney, i.e. Show More Summary

Sweary Snippets in Shakespeare: Henry V

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. In terms of plot, Shakespeare’s The Life of Henry the Fifth (Henry V) is fairly straightforward: invading France after making a claim on French territories,...Show More Summary

How Gender Neutral Is Guys, Really?

The unlikely story of guy: It was originally an eponym for Guy Fawkes, then referred to someone dressed up in a grotesque costume. By the mid-19 th century its meaning had broadened to denote a man, before extending further to become an informal, gender-neutral vocative or term of address, especially in the plural. Show More Summary

How to Spice Up Your Swearing Game

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. What the fuck has become so commonplace that, as our own Nancy Friedman pointed out, marketers are no longer shy about alluding to it. But its ubiquity has...Show More Summary

How Should We Refer to Our Significant Others? (Can I Ever Say “The Boyfriend”?)

After a humble piece of Internet threw Slate into disarray with its repeated invocations of “the boyfriend,” XX Factor staff writer Christina Cauterucci chatted with words correspondent Katy Waldman about the terms we use for romantic partners. Show More Summary

Taming of the Shrew: Maybe Not So Tame After All?

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. “ … She did call me rascal, fiddler, / And twangling jack, with twenty such vile terms,” a beaten-up Hortensio cries after a rough music lesson with the titular “shrew,” Katherine, in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (2.1.155-6). Show More Summary

Ooh! Arrgh! How We Hear Emotion in Nonverbal Noises

On May 10, 1915, renowned poet-cum-cranky-recluse Robert Frost gave a lecture to a group of schoolboys in Cambridge, MA. “Sounds in the mouths of men,” he told his audience, “I have found to be the basis of all effective expression.”...Show More Summary

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