Spectacular Vernacular

Squid Game in Translation

Netflix’s popular show Squid Game has some issues with its English subtitles.


Episode Notes

On today’s episode of Spectacular Vernacular, hosts Nicole Holliday and Ben Zimmer chat about Netflix’s latest hit Squid Game. They also interview award-winning New Yorker staff writer John Colapinto about his book This Is the Voice. And finally, we bring on chart analyst, pop critic, and host of the Slate podcast Hit Parade Chris Molanphy for a fun music quiz. We hope you’re ready! You could win a year’s membership to Slate Plus.

Do you have any language questions or fun facts to share? Email us at spectacular@slate.com.

Produced by Jasmine Ellis.

Here are some notes and references from this week’s show:

Duolingo, “ ‘Squid Game’ could inspire a new wave of Korean language learners

NBC News, “Translators, experts weigh in on ‘Squid Game’ subtitle debate

Youngmi Mayer on the English subtitles in Squid Game

Danica Salazar (World English Editor, Oxford Languages), “Daebak! The OED gets a K-update

BBC News, “Why 26 Korean words have been added to Oxford English Dictionary

John Colapinto’s book This Is the Voice

Chris Molanphy’s podcast Hit Parade 

Ben’s crossword puzzle in The Wall Street Journal


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.