Spectacular Vernacular

“Who Dey” vs. “Who Dat”

We break down football chants and their possible connection to African American English.


Episode Notes

On today’s episode of Spectacular Vernacular, Nicole and Ben talk about the connection between football chants and language. They also interview Everdeen Mason, editorial director for games at the New York Times about her exciting role. And finally, our hosts are in the hot seat for this week’s wordplay. You don’t want to miss this! 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 and Asha Saluja.

Here are some notes and references from this week’s show:
Ben’s Wall Street Journal column, “’Who Dey?’: A Chant With Roots in Black History” 
New York Times profile of Everdeen Mason 
How to apply to the New York Times Diverse Crossword Constructor Fellowship 
Washington Post article on “the latest reckoning over language in the puzzle world” 
New York Times article on the acquisition of Wordle 
Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crosswords


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.