“I want to do one of those shows where we see that so much in this language that we speak–in any language that we speak–is just full of implications, full of fun facts, full of maybes and history, practically every syllable you utter.”
Lexicon Valley combines linguistics, history, culture, and humor to make a truly magical experience, one that makes you lean in with fascination as the hosts dive into the history of words we take for granted. John McWhorter is a wonderful host with a conversational tone and frequently groan-worthy sense of humor that manages to be as endearing as it is silly. He often draws on music and lyrics (show tunes especially) as examples of the linguistic phenomena he discusses, which break up the long stretches of involved explanation and keep you interested and understanding.
One of the things I love most about Lexicon Valley is that it never relies on the elitism or snobbery that are often inherent in discussions of grammar and vocabulary. It fully embraces the changing nature of language and words, and gives every variation and vernacular its due. It reminds you that language is functional and that people adjusting it to their needs isn’t a crime.
Anyone who is interested in words or language should absolutely listen to this podcast. They’re short episodes that don’t need to be listened to in any particular order, so they’re great for a short car trip or an edifying time-killer.
Listen if you like: Decoder Ring, linguistics, being able to answer rhetorical questions and annoy everyone at your dinner party