Choosing Your Voice

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S1: Hello, I’m Nicole Holliday, a linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania,

S2: and I’m Ben Zimmer, language columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

S1: And this is spectacular vernacular, a podcast where we not only explore language,

S2: we also play with it.

S1: This week, our guest is Dr. Rupal Patel, professor of communication sciences and disorders and computer science at Northeastern University and the founder of a company that creates personalized, synthesized voices. And later, we’ll try to stump Joel Anderson and Josh Levin, hosts of Slate’s sports podcast hang up and listen with some wordplay puzzles. We got some great feedback on our last episode, which featured Alex Bellos, author of the language lover’s puzzle book. So I tried a few of the puzzles in the book on my own and was really glad to see the inclusion of a few that featured Creole languages.

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S2: Yeah. Creole languages are great. And you know, one fun example from the book language lovers puzzle book involves talk peace in which is a Creole spoken in Papua New Guinea. And in the puzzle, you have to figure out the way that took place in uses metaphors to form words or really lexical items like the lexical item for hair is grass belong hit, which literally means grass of the head. So there’s a lot of confusion actually about what Creole languages actually are. Since the way that linguists and non linguists may talk about them can be different.

S1: Yes, and this is something that comes up a lot in my classes. So briefly, a Creole is a language that develops over time in a community with sustained contact between multiple languages in sort of a specific type of situation. So listeners may be familiar, for example, with Jamaican Creole known locally as patois, which evolved in the 17th century when enslaved people from West Africa were kidnapped and forced into labor for English speaker enslavers, the enslaved people spoke a variety of languages in West Africa, including Akon. But by necessity had to communicate with their enslavers, and this type of specific situation results in language mixing with that generally a particular outcome. Here is an example from YouTuber Chev B explaining differences between American English and Jamaican Creole. I have been looking for you,

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S3: but did I look in a mirror? The look feel we see in a lot? The ending of things in a matter angel can go any way.

S2: So I don’t actually speak to making Creole, but I could understand some of what she said there, because there were words in there I recognized like me and look, and you. And that’s because Jamaican Creole is what linguists would call an English Lexa Fire Creole. So basically, structurally, it has many elements from Akan and the other West African languages that it comes from. But many of the words or lexical items came from English.

S1: Yes, and that’s a common element of Creole languages. Unfortunately, though, for this reason, sometimes people stereotype Creole as incomplete or quote unquote broken, which is ridiculous because millions of people across the world speak Creole languages and use them to do everything that anything else does right, like American English can do or Spanish can do any other language and it breaks. My linguist hurt to hear people talk about any language like that.

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S2: Yeah, me too. But fortunately, the whole understanding of Creole languages across the world has started to increase, and in many places, speakers of Creole have started to gain more language rights. So, for example, I mentioned topics in earlier. That’s another English Lexa Fire Creole, and it became an official language of Papua New Guinea in 1975 and in 1987, Haitian Creole, which is a French Lexis Fire Creole, became one of Haiti’s official languages alongside French.

S1: Well, many places have still not recognised their Creole languages as official due to things like discrimination. Efforts to create educational materials and spread information about the languages have also been helped by social media and the internet. In 2017, the BBC launched a website called BBC Pidgin, which feature stories written and spoken in West African pidgin English. Here’s a clip from a recent BBC pidgin minute feature, which they update daily now

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S4: BBC BBC Pidgin Mini Everyone we

S5: list now, I suppose many of those wonderful Turkish head, all local governments for the Niger state north central Nigeria may not actively Jasmine. They do element in this attack to her for less than two months after bandits gunned down 18 worshippers for mosque inside the same local government.

S2: So that’s very cool to hear, but it’s a little confusing. I mean, we were talking about Creole, so why is this called BBC Pidgin minute?

S1: Yeah, this is where the terminology gets complicated. Linguists refer to the languages that have evolved in this way as Creole, and that’s the technical term. But locally, these types of languages can be called a lot of different things, from patois in Jamaica to Pidgin in West Africa and Hawaii.

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S2: Right. And that’s for historical reasons, because for linguists, a Pidgin that’s spelled Guillén, that’s a simplified communication system, not a foul language usually used for. Dynamic reasons. And actually, the word Pidgin originally derives from a Chinese pronunciation of the English word business. And the first use of the term Pidgin English meaning business English dates back to 1855 or so. So Pidgin originally just referred to what we would call Chinese pidgin English, and that was used as a lingua franca or a common trade language between the English and Chinese speakers in the 17th 18th centuries and the term to spread from there. So that’s also where we get the name talk piece in from the PC in there comes from Pidgin as well, even though much like West African pidgin English, we would call that a Creole ized language, not just what linguists would call a Pidgin.

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S1: Wow, I never knew the origin of that term, but it makes sense that it comes from an old example of contact between English and another language anyway, regardless of what Creole languages are called. It’s really important to remember that while they arise in special situations of language contact, they do all the same things that non Creole languages do, and their structure and use contain a lot of rich history and culture of the places where they’re used. But most importantly, their speakers deserve respect and the right to use their own languages.

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S2: Absolutely. And if you check out the show notes for this episode, we have some links to BBC Pidgin and two places where folks can learn more about Creole languages and their structure and history.

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S1: Awesome. And we’ll definitely talk more about specific Creole languages in the future, so stay tuned for that after the break. Our interview with Dr Rupal Patel about the latest and speech synthesis technology.

S2: Welcome back to spectacular vernacular. Our guest today is Dr. Rupal Patel, a professor at Northeastern University and the founder of VocaliD, a company that aims to create personalized, synthesized voices for both medical and business uses. Rupal welcome to spectacular vernacular.

S4: Thank you, Ben. Glad to be here.

S1: We’re so glad to have you with us. So a few years back, you gave a very popular TEDx talk in which you talked about your research and the founding of VocaliD. I was really fascinated with some of the medical uses of speech synthesis technology that you discussed, especially as a person who myself has had persistent issues with my voice. Can you tell us more about why you were interested in voice synthesis for patients who have challenges with their voices for various medical reasons and how specifically this kind of work can benefit them?

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S4: Absolutely, yes. My background is as a speech language pathologist and then kind of going into research in that area. So I was working with people with speech disorders and found that many of them had to use communication devices that didn’t really sound like them. They just sounded very generic sounding. And yet they had their own unique voice. And so we got into it by wanting to really create a unique voice because voices your identity, right? And so we wanted each individual to be able to have their own unique voice on their talking devices. So not only do we create this for people who have had long term issues with their voice or maybe been born with conditions such as cerebral palsy, and we have to create a unique voice for their talking device. But also, we bank the voices of individuals who are losing their voice to degenerative conditions, or maybe even temporarily. You know, voice therapy is often used as a way to for people with vocal nodules, for example, you might have been told please don’t talk like, Well, that’s what I do for a living, right? And so can there be other instances where you can use your actual, you know, your voice identity through a device to talk right? And that could actually help in some cases. So we do think the voices of people with head neck cancer with degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and so on as well.

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S2: So I was interested in your argument that individuals who have severe speech disorders still maintain their property. So that’s, you know, their pitch, their loudness, other related characteristics in the source of the voice itself, which originates in the part of the vocal tract known as the larynx. And what’s super interesting about VocaliD these methods is that it takes the original speaker’s source from their larynx and borrows someone else’s filter. And I was really impressed that you can do this even for a speaker whose disorder allows them to only make a limited number of sounds. So could you tell us about the speaker who you’ve done this for and how this process actually works?

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S4: I almost equate it to mixing the yolk of a brown and the the white from another X-ray. You’re sort of you can’t fully this. You can’t fully separate the source of the filter completely when you’re when you have a microphone in front of a person. What you’re collecting is both source and the filter. And so what we have to do is through digital processes pull those apart from one another. The source characteristics of someone with speech disorder is really what they can still control relatively well. It’s not perfect, but it’s relatively well in comparison to something like their lips and their tongue, which make the sounds, the consonants and vowels we hear. We have to borrow that from someone who is an able bodied talker. Right? And then digitally, we can morph those two together. So that was the science that we were able to solve within the laboratory and try to figure out what’s the best way to still preserve as much identity features from the person you want the voice to sound like and not completely have it sound like their voice daughter.

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S1: I also noticed that you have the app that allows users to record their own voice, but also select a custom voice that they think reflects them. And why do you think it’s so important for speakers to have a voice that sounds authentic for them? And how does this sort of impact the way that they interact with others based on your experience and what you’ve heard from folks?

S4: It’s funny because when we first started to call, we were really thinking that we had to create a voice that was, like, really accurate for that person. By that, I mean, like it, you know, kind of reflected what they would have sounded like had they been able to speak like, you know, it should match their vocal track characteristics. So someone really short and petite is not going to have a very deep voice just because their vocal tract is a different length and so on. And yet what we found over and over again is it’s less about accuracy and it’s more about preference. And this is the case in everything, right? And so what we like our voice to sound like and many people will say to us, you know, I don’t really love my voice and I don’t really I’ll just have someone else’s voice. But then when they start to lose their voices, when they realize, Oh no, no, no, I love my voice, that’s who I am. So this weird relationship that we have with our voice in terms of do we even hear ourselves as ourselves because we hear it through our own heads as opposed to through the air? Right. So perception, I think and preference is far more important in some ways than accuracy. And that’s why we give people choice, because how we decide to dress ourselves, how we decide to show up every day. It’s really about our identity. And at the end of the day, people who have to rely on a device to talk, maybe they want to voice, that’s different than what they we expected them to sound like.

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S2: You know, we’ve been talking about the medical uses for this type of voice synthesis work that VocaliD does, but it’s also very useful in the business and technology space. And so it’s interesting when you get these synthesized voices, they can sound fairly natural, you know, especially since it’s actually kind of dealing with text to speech. So let’s hear an example of that.

S6: They are just barrels. It isn’t just how we work. It’s a community investment in a world that can be in such a rush here. Here’s a place to keep it slow and steady. Every driver makes a difference. So stay alert.

S2: So Rupal, could you tell us a bit more about some of the types of, you know, business and technology applications you might use these synthesized voices for?

S4: Yeah. So in the last couple of years, as the technology has gotten better, I mean, when we started back in 2000 and 14 15, we were using a completely different kind of speech synthesis. And nowadays, with the new advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, we’re able to create voices with very little data. And also they sound a lot more realistic because they’re not only these new methods don’t just capture the way someone speaks or the the actual sounds, but also the rhythm of their voice, the melody of their voice and so on. And if you saw if you heard in that sample, for example, you got the real texture of his voice, right? The depth of his voice was also captured that all of that was produced by putting in some text copy and generating that into that individual’s voice. So what we’re doing is we’re working with voice talent these days and and that particular gentleman, he does radio ads and so he read about 90 minutes of audio takes a few hours to do that because you sort of have to stop and start and kind of make sure that you’re in the right tone. And then after that, what we do is we feed our algorithms, we train our algorithms based on the transcripts of the voice or what the person was speaking, as well as that audio together to learn how to speak and emulate that voice in the future. So you don’t have to feed it back. The same content that that person read, you’re basically feeding novel text now, and it speaks like that individual. And then you can also modify the audio afterwards to get the right rhythm and the right pausing and all of that. And that’s what we do in what we call our parent studio, which is this online tool to modify the audio after it’s been generated by the synthesis.

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S1: The super cool about voice. I listen to a lot of them and that voice in particular, I was like, Wow, I’m not sure that I would have ever identified that as synthesized, like, they’re getting really, really good. Do you think that the business applications for speech synthesis are kind of going to expand in the future? And do you have any predictions about how they might affect human computer interactions more broadly?

S4: Oh, I think, you know, we’ve been talking or thinking that this is going to be an area of business adoption for a while now as as more and more things are beginning to talk around us. You’re seeing that and you’re hearing so many different applications where voices the first channel. In fact, and especially during COVID, we saw the use of voice far more than any other channel because people didn’t want to touch things right. And so we’re definitely feeling that that is coming. And it’s more businesses have a voice first interface these days, so think about ordering at a restaurant. You think about all of these places where there are new touchpoints through voice. And I think the next big leap really is thinking about a brand, thinking about what their voices and not just one voice for their entire brand, which is typically how we thought about it, you know, as a spokesperson, voice or something like that. But there’s a lot of conversation these days about diversity, right? And inclusion. And if the brand only speaks to one demographic, it really is silencing or not really paying attention to the rest of the demographic. And so it’s really interesting to think about voice as actually reaching a much, much broader audience by thinking about the diversity and inclusion of voice. So you’re I always say your choice in your voice channel basically speaks volumes about whether you actually have a diversity and inclusion strategy or not. So if your voice sounds like Alexa or Siri, I’m just a humble virtual assistant leaves you think your audience is only that particular sort of small demographic and not the broad demographic that really are the users of Alexa and Siri tools.

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S1: So interesting that you bring up Alexa and Siri. I’m actually working on a research project about the new American Siri voices, which debuted earlier this year. There are four, and I was contacted by a reporter from Consumer Reports, Kaveh Waddell, who is like in beat up. People are saying these new series sound black, like, do you think they sound black? And I said, Well, let’s just run a study. Yeah, Siri voices two and three. Do we get judged is black? So then I’m going. Back in sort of trying to figure out what’s happening in the speech signal that is causing that judgment. But we had he and I had a lot of conversations about like what is Apple’s motivation for doing this? And then also if you are the user who chooses the voice, that sounds like the black man or the black woman, what does that do for you and what does it say about you? So I think you’re totally right that this is where we’re kind of headed in terms of the business and tech uses for speech synthesis.

S4: Well, I guess one question I’d have for you is, is it wrong that they sound black and you know, or were they based on someone who was African-American? And, you know, like, does it matter as long as someone feels like they can identify with it? So it’s very interesting to me because, for example, that the T in Boston, it was always it was this gentleman. He was African-American who did all the announcements of the T stops and nobody actually knew he was African-American. And then when it was revealed that he was, I was like, Oh, really? They chose that person. It’s like, Why does it matter? You know, did you liked it? You liked it for years? So, you know, it’s. But I think that these choices do make a difference in terms of who feels like they’re being heard. And so it’s just another way, just like we want representation on television, we want representation in the voice channel as well.

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S1: I totally agree. I think that’s really cool. And also, you know, there’s sort of a question about whose voice gets to be the default. So when voices were just robots, we weren’t necessarily thinking of them as people, but they’re more and more integrated into our lives and all of these purposes that you’re saying. And so we want to ascribe social characteristics to them because that’s how people deal with language like we deal with language and interaction. So imagining whose voice gets to be the one that’s sort of unmasked is an interesting point that you’re bringing up here as well.

S4: And it’s not just race two is also things like gender. Right? So there’s this voice that was a gender fluid voice or a gender neutral voice. And that’s the other thing too is like, you know, are there products out there that are more gender neutral? What does that? Who does that speak to? There’s just a lot of statements that you can make and a lot of decisions that are made about, like how you position a product using that voice as well as part of the branding strategy, I think.

S2: Well, Professor Rupal Patel, thank you so much for joining us today. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our listeners?

S4: You know, we actually have a trial on using the parent user interface. If you want to try out how a voice would sound as a, you know, for potentially even voiceover, you can try that out on our website.

S2: We’ll make sure we put a link to that in our show notes.

S1: OK, thank you so much. And after the break, it’s time for some wordplay. Welcome back. Now it’s the time in the show where we play with language.

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S2: Lately, we’ve been bringing on our fellow slate podcasters to be our victims for wordplay challenges, and this time we’re pleased to be joined by two superstars in the podcasting world. Josh Levin is Slate’s national editor and the host of the podcast One Year. The new season of one year is looking back at 1995 and the stories that shaped society that year, and Joel Anderson is the host of season six of Slow Burn, which focuses on the L.A. riots of 1992. And together, the two of them co-host Slate’s sports podcast Hang Up and Listen. Welcome Josh and Joel.

S7: Hey, thank you, Nicole. Thank you, Ben.

S8: Yeah, thanks for having us on.

S1: Yeah. So it’s interesting that both one year and slow burn are both doing deep dives into events from the 90s, and this is familiar terrain for both of you. Joel You hosted a previous season of Slow Burn about the rivalry between Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. Back in the 90s and Josh, you hosted a slow burn season about how David Duke became a mainstream political figure by the early 90s. Is there something about the 90s in particular that lends itself to such compelling podcast?

S8: You know, I think for me, at least, that was pretty much the only time I became conscious of news. I mean, I was I was just old enough at that age to sort of be cognizant of the world around me and to pay attention to, you know, the national news report that comes on at night. So that’s the time it really resonates to me. I graduated high school in 1996. So that, you know, that’s yeah, that’s the thing was my news consciousness sort of came about.

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S7: Yeah. Also, I think it’s a time period where it’s far enough back to be history, but close enough to the president to feel contemporary, which is sort of the secret sauce of of slow burn and one year to some extent.

S2: Well, they’re both great podcasts and you know, of course, you are both involved in Hang Up and Listen, as well as sports podcast with another co-hosts that we know. Friend of the show, Stefan Fatsis. We actually had Stefan on a previous episode of Spectacular Vernacular for a wordplay quiz. Of course, Stefan is a big time Scrabble buff, so he had a bit of an edge in the wordplay department, I guess you could say.

S7: He would like to think so.

S2: Well, when we had Stefan on, we quizzed him about sports terms that have recently been added to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, and we also made him use his Scrabble brain to unscramble anagrams of those words.

S8: I didn’t know that it was going to be like school.

S1: The find the fun part of

S7: school anagrams, maybe anagrams high school.

S8: For me with

S2: Pete, we’re not going to make you do anagrams. We know that that that was like Stefan Specialty. We would not make you do anagrams under pressure. But just as an example of what we did with Stefan, he had to figure out that Airball is an anagram of the pasta brand Barilla and Josh. You wrote all about the history of the Airball chant in basketball in a piece for Slate a few years ago, right?

S7: I did. Yeah, and that was actually a one off podcast that we put on the hang up and listen feed back in the day. Just as kind of a fun experiment like a short narrative single serve podcast, Joel did a really great one of those about Michael Jordan with the Wizards, by the way. Plug for that great upset.

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S8: Oh, thank you, friend.

S2: We’ll link to that in the in the show notes and stuff and actually share it a fun fact about the word airball when he was on with us in Scrabble, you can use it as what’s called a front hook. That means you can add a letter to the beginning to make a new word. So if you add h to the front, it makes hairball sound a little gross. But you know Stefan’s little insight there has inspired the wordplay quiz that we’re going to challenge the two of you with. You’re going to need to figure out other cases where word turns into a new word when you add a letter to the beginning. And like I said, don’t worry, no anagrams are involved here. We’re just going to make you fill in the blanks in some sentences. They will all have a sports theme, so there will be two blanks and the first word will have the extra letter. The second will be the shorter word. So, for instance, if the solution was hairball and airball, we might give you this sentence in Space Jam after the Tasmanian devil coughed up a blank. He shot a clumsy blank hairball. Airball, does that make? It does make

S7: sense. It’s kind of a little bit rude to not fill in either of the blanks for us, but I guess that makes it a more fun game. So, you know, fair play to you.

S1: The good news is they’re going to be related, so it gives you some hints whenever we have two guests on for wordplay as we always ask them if they’d like to cooperate or compete against each other. So which would you guys like to do?

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S7: Both seem appealing.

S8: Like, I don’t know. Yeah, it’s like I would like the feeling of winning, because that’s just generally how I moved through the world. But Josh did say something very kind about the one off Jordan podcast, and I feel a little inclined to like team up with him. But I also want to know why don’t?

S7: Why don’t we? Why don’t we collaborate in that way? We win or lose together as we collaborate on slobbering and hang up and listen.

S8: Fair, that’s fair. Let’s keep the same way.

S2: OK. All right, well, we figured, you know, two sports guys like you might get get a little competitive, but it’s nice to hear that you also, you know, collaborate as well. So. Fair enough. In fact, you know, when we were putting this little game together, we thought it might be fun to make the two of you play a game of horse. But we realized it would take too long to turn that into a word play quiz. So we’re going to keep it simple, since we already have the h of horse covered by turning airball into hairball. We’re going to give you four questions where you have to add the other letters of horse, so you’ll get O, R, S and E as the letters to add. How does that sound? Well, let’s do it.

S7: Yeah, let’s get it.

S1: OK. So here’s your first one. This is a quote from a recent college sports article. The Syracuse Blank women’s basketball team shot 22 of 29 from three point blank.

S7: I think I think we got this one Joel. What do you think?

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S8: Yeah, I think so. Don’t let’s not take for granted that, you know, my brain isn’t quite working as well as it should be. I’m on the West Coast time,

S7: so I’m going to go with orange for the first word and you want to take the second one?

S8: Wait a minute. Hold on Orange, OK?

S1: So the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team shot 12 of twenty nine from three point range range.

S4: OK, there you go.

S2: There you go. Orange, take off the oh gets you range. That’s how this is going to work. So that was actually the oh in horse. So let’s move on to the next one. This is from an actual sports headline from last July. Quote blank draft day trade with St. Louis Blues. Blank. New York fans.

S7: Well, this is the hockey thing.

S8: Indeed. Do you do you have any clue about the stuff?

S7: I don’t.

S2: Well, who are those New York fans rooting for in on that draft day?

S7: Oh, I get. I got it. I was a little confused because I was thinking about things related to the Blues, but the headline writers put the name of the New York team first Rangers.

S2: There you go.

S7: OK. And Angus.

S2: There you go. So. So yeah, I mean, those those Rangers fans are probably always angry, but Rangers draft day trade with St. Louis Blues angers New York fans is the headline.

S8: I was three seconds away from saying islanders.

S2: Well, that’s really interesting, because if you take off the eye in islanders, you get slanders and you know, that works with some other northeastern and NHL teams. You also have devils can become evils and Bruins can become ruins.

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S8: Oh, that’s pretty good.

S1: Oh, that works, too. All right. So this next one is an actual quote from a sportswriter explaining why he didn’t vote for a particular player for the Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year. We have seen what Curt Blank does with a platform, and it has been blank.

S8: OK. I think I know this. I feel like I might be smart, but

S7: he really stinks. We hate him.

S8: He’s terrible person. Also, I mean, just Red Sox fans. Come on. I mean, he bleeds a lot. He is a lot.

S7: Yeah, he had a video game company that went bankrupt and really screwed over the state of Rhode Island.

S2: Right? Didn’t he bankrupt the state somehow? Yeah.

S8: Do you think he was really bleeding?

S7: I think he probably was bleeding, but also that maybe he wasn’t.

S8: We could talk about that later.

S1: Schilling Chile Yes, very good. We have seen what Curt Schilling does of the platform and it has been chilling.

S7: Do you think that person knew what they were doing? Were they playing this game with the chilling, chilling thing? Or is it just a coincidence?

S2: Could have been unintentional wordplay that happens a lot. You know, if these things just come out of our mouths and we realize, Oh, look at that Schilling minus SS chilling. OK, so that was the s in horse. So we have one more for you. We’re about to finish this modified game of horse. This is from an article about LeBron James committing a flagrant foul against Isaiah Stewart in a Lakers Pistons game. Quote players sometimes act out of blank and may even cross the line. But James wasn’t executing a natural basketball blank.

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S7: I got this one Joel. You do. OK, so do you feel like Isaiah Stewart should have gone after LeBron harder? Or do you feel like you just did the best he could?

S8: I mean, I think once you taste your own blood, I can understand how that might. That might set you off. So it makes a little bit more sense. I know the second word, I don’t know the first one.

S7: I don’t think, though. So the first word is emotion. Oh, were you thinking it was improv and move its emotion and motion?

S2: There you go. So that was the Ian horse. You take off the ian emotion and you get motion as an a natural basketball emotion.

S7: Sometimes basketball players act out of improv, you know, it’s just it. It can happen to the rest of us.

S8: Oh, oh, all right, there we go. I’m sorry. I didn’t go to Dartmouth.

S7: We’re collaborating Joel. We’re collaborating.

S1: Yeah, together you made it happen. Well done, Joel and Josh. And thanks so much for coming on and playing our quiz.

S7: It was very fun, thank you.

S8: Thanks for having us on.

S2: Now we have a challenge for all of our listeners. Here’s an actual sports headline leaving out the final two word phrase quote Tiger Woods set for special return to blank blank. Once again, the headline is Tiger Woods set for special return to blank blank. If you remove the first letter from that missing two-word phrase, you’ll get a word that has to do with your sense of smell. Think you’ve got it? Send your answer to us at Spectacular at Slate.com with Quiz in the subject line of your email. Please include the two-word phrase and the new words you get when you remove the first letter from the correct entries will randomly selected winner, who will receive a Slate Plus membership for one year, or if you’re already a Slate Plus member, you’ll get a one year extension on your subscription, and we may bring you on the show to face a new wordplay challenge. So once again, that’s spectacular at Slate.com with Quiz in the subject line, and please respond by Midnight Eastern Time on December 29th, and we’re very pleased to announce the winner of the contest from our December 7th episode. Ali Crary of New York City figured out that the word chowhound, referring to someone who loves to eat, is hiding to question words inside of it. How and who? Congratulations, Ali.

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S1: Thanks to Joel Anderson and Josh Levin for joining us. That’s it for this week. We hope you’ve enjoyed the show. If you have, please remember to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. If you subscribing on Apple Podcasts, please rate and review us while you’re there. It helps other listeners find the show and please consider subscribing to Slate Plus. Slate Plus members get benefits like full access to all the articles on Slate.com. Zero ads on any Slate podcast and bonus episodes of shows like The Ones Joel and Josh list. Slow Burn and one year. It’s only one dollar for the first month. To learn more, go to Slate.com. Slash Spectacular

S2: Plus. And thanks again to Rupal Patel for being our guest this week. Spectacular vernacular is produced by Jasmine Ellis Asha Saluja is managing producer and Gabriel Roth is Editorial Director for Slate Podcast.

S1: We’ll be back in two weeks

S9: with more spectacular vernacular. Thanks for listening.