Listen Up, Word Lovers

Podcasts for the language pedant in all of us.

Click here for Slate’s Complete Podcast Archive or here to subscribe to Slate’s podcast feed on iTunes.

First, a quick Pod Pick shout-out to the new podcast of NPR’s comedy news quiz Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. I’ve enjoyed this show for years and have been making my own recordings for later iPod listening. Now it’s available as a download.

Unfortunately, there’s still no podcast available of the more literary quiz show Says You!, which is also distributed (but not produced) by NPR. This program’s emphasis on clever wordplay and verbal sparring speaks to the pedant in all of us. (The show is available for paid download from Audible, but come on folks … get on the podcasting bandwagon!).


In the meantime, there are several interesting amateur podcasts about words and language that warrant at least a quick listen.


The first is Podictionary (Web site here; weekly iTunes feed here; daily iTunes feed here). This podcast offers short daily etymology lessons, much like you’d get on a Word-of-the-Day desk calendar, but … well, they’re in audio form, and they’re free. They’re presented by self-described logophile Charles Hodgson, whose accent betrays that he sends his audio missives from Ottawa. (Wait a minute—do they use the same dictionaries in Canada?)

The second podcast is called The Word Nerds (Web site here; iTunes feed here), and it’s a longer weekly discussion of some finer point about language. Recent episodes have discussed “Insidious Idioms,” “Onomatopoeia and Other Word Music,” and “Rhythm and Meaning.” The show’s title is not misleading. The hosts (brothers Dave and Howard Shepherd and Howard Chang) can descend into the kind of minutiae only a nerd would appreciate. If that doesn’t put you off, it’s worth a listen.


We at Slate like to think of ourselves as “word jocks” rather than nerds, but I’m not sure we can maintain that fiction much longer after people hear this week’s Gabfest podcast, with its out-of-hand dismissal of the Winter Olympics as a waste of time. Here’s everything we produced this week:


Feb. 10  The Gabfest Winter Games (Slate piece)
Feb. 10 Explainer: Where Do Muslim Protesters Get Their Danish Flags? (Slate piece)
Feb. 9  Can You Fear Me Now? (Slate piece)
Feb. 9 Explainer: When Does Congress Make You Swear? (Slate piece)
Feb. 8  Where’s My Subpoena? (Slate piece)
Feb. 8 Explainer: Does Islam Really Prohibit Images of Religious Figures? (Slate piece)
Feb. 7  The War on Birthday Presents (Slate piece)
Feb. 7 Explainer: What’s With Interpol’s Color-Coded Notices? (Slate piece)
Feb. 6  Goodbye, Betty (Slate piece)
Feb. 6 Explainer: Is the Football Field an Unsafe Work Environment? (Slate piece)

Comments?: Podcasts@slate.com (e-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise).