Spectacular Vernacular

Taking Home the Gold in Language

How language made an appearance in the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.


Episode Notes

On today’s episode of Spectacular Vernacular, hosts Ben Zimmer and Nicole Holliday chat about language at the Olympics in Tokyo. They also chat with linguist Arika Okrent about her new book, Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don’t Rhyme―And Other Oddities of the English Language. (Check out an essay Okrent wrote about the English spelling system.) And finally, we have our first guest joining us for a fun quiz segment that you don’t want to miss.

Do you have any language questions or fun facts to share? Email us at spectacular@slate.com. You can also use that email address to let us know if you’d like to take part in a future episode, when we’ll bring in listeners for some challenging wordplay.

Produced by Jasmine Ellis and Cheyna Roth.


About the Show

Linguist Nicole Holliday and Wall Street Journal language columnist Ben Zimmer discuss the ways language is changing, talk to scholars and writers, and set and solve word puzzles.

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  • Ben Zimmer is a linguist, lexicographer, and all-around word nut. He is the language columnist for the Wall Street Journal and a contributing writer for the Atlantic.

  • Nicole Holliday is an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on variation, intonation, and language in society.