Spectacular Vernacular

Taylor Swift’s “F— the Patriarchy”

The history of Swift’s now-infamous line in the new version of All Too Well.


Episode Notes

On today’s episode of Spectacular Vernacular, Nicole and Ben discuss Ben’s case against an accusation of anachronistic language use in the new version of her song “All Too Well.” They also interview Michael Adams, Provost Professor and Chair of the English Department at Indiana University about the late Madeline Kripke. And finally, Stefan Fatsis, co-host of Slate’s sports podcast Hang Up and Listen joins us for some wordplay. We hope you’re up-to-date on your sports and dictionary knowledge. 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:
Could Taylor Swift Have Written “F— the Patriarchy” a Decade Ago?
Lyric video for Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)”
Gawker, “Taylor Swift is Lying About ’All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)’”
Narratively, “The Dame of Dictionaries”
New York Times obituary of Madeline Kripke
Announcement of Indiana University’s acquisition of the Kripke Collection
“Hang Up and Listen,” co-hosted by Stefan Fatsis
Stefan’s 2014 piece, “These Sports Terms Should Be Playable in Scrabble”
Episode of “Hang Up and Listen” where Stefan discusses defining “posterize”


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.

All episodes


  • 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.