Blog Excerpts

Adding to our collection of Beatles linguistic analysis (we've written about the iconic band's pronouns, nonsense sounds, and gear language) and in a manner reminiscent of recent analysis of rappers' vocabularies, the Liverpool Echo has conducted a vocabulary survey of British pop music, and concluded that the Beatles "have one of the smallest vocabularies in pop music." Continue reading...
TOPICS: Fun, Language, Vocabulary
Weird Al Yankovic's "Word Crimes" video transforms Robin Thicke's scandalous "Blurred Lines" into a prescriptivist grammarian's screed. We think it's brilliant and are happy to see it getting much play in the language-loving community this week. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Fun, Grammar, Usage

The Return of Lexicon Valley

Lexicon Valley, Slate's podcast for language lovers, has just returned after an extended hiatus. First up is an interview with Columbia University professor John McWhorter about his new book The Language Hoax. Listen to the podcast here, and also check out Mark Peters' review of McWhorter's book here. And stay tuned for news about our own Ben Zimmer joining forces with the Lexicon Valley podcasters!
TOPICS: Language, Media, Online
Last week, a thirteen-year old wrote about shrinking vocabulary for her mother's blog on Palo Alto online, in which she wondered if the existence of new words is to blame for a decrease in the average person's vocabulary. Are words like selfie crowding more worthy vocabulary from our brains? Continue reading...
Just in time for the 4th of July, our own Ben Zimmer investigates how the term "Yank" started off as a term of disparagement but was reclaimed as an expression of patriotic pride in settings from world wars to the World Cup. Continue reading...
Business Insider announced this week the results of a study by the Center for Reading Research on the relationship between gender and word recognition. Are there words more easily recognized by one gender or another? Continue reading...
Writing for Slate, James S. Murphy explores the history of the flashcard, calling the Vocabulary.com app "the first significant improvement on the flashcard model of learning in 200 years." Continue reading...
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