S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership, the following podcast contains explicit language. From New York City, this is Lexicon Valley, a podcast about language and you know what we’re going to do this time, irregardless that word, that supposedly isn’t a word. Why isn’t it a word? And what must our judgment of that be if we, as I always say, pull the camera back? Well, let’s talk about it regardless, because we can learn a lot from it, including how to love our language more. And so what you hear is that it should be regardless, regardless of the fact that the light never turned green, dot, dot, dot. But instead, so often people say ear regardless, and that’s supposed to be too repetitive. You don’t need the ear because that makes it negative when less was already doing it. So irregardless is redundant and therefore it’s wrong. It’s sloppy, it’s not necessary. A more elegant language would just keep it as regardless. And you know, that might be true. But there is always that factor. There’s that certain kid, I call it the Ken Golden factor because of one that I happen to know. There’s this kid in fifth grade who everybody starts picking on for no real reason. And that person often, you know, grows up to be shining and successful. But for some reason, everybody started picking on Ken Golden. Well, literally is a Ken Golden and so is E regardless, because really, if you roll the dice, it could have been anybody else. It could have been you. And so, for example, what’s an uprising? Think about it. Isn’t it just a rising and if you’re thinking that an uprising is more specific because it’s about people fighting oppression or something like that, how does up connote that in particular? Is an uprising a little redundant? Do you mind? Think about it. Somebody says, I’m going to rise up and it might be Jesus or something. Would anybody say, well, what do you mean up? Isn’t it just rising? Only a certain kind of pedant who you probably aren’t thinking about sinking down sank down into the dirt? OK, well, probably wouldn’t be dirt. Mud sank down into the mud, now technically sank into the mud. You don’t need the down, but if anything, the down just makes things more vivid. And, you know, life often isn’t vivid. And so why can’t you stick in that down something else? By my lights, it’s more common lately. But we all know that you have to be careful about that because something you think is lately will turn out to have been thriving in nineteen twenty five. But to say separate out, we’re going to separate these things out from the other ones. What about just separate once you’ve separated them, aren’t they already out. And yet there’s a usage of out that I’ve mentioned before in this show that is completely redundant. And yet if anything people are doing it more lately and I see no complaints about it. The point being that we jump on poor can irregardless golden when really it regardless, it’s just one of many such cases that happens to have attracted a certain amount of attention because of the alignment of the planets one day. But we don’t have any problem with one in the same with each and every no problem at all is just some big thing with you regardless or about this. As I have mentioned before, I’m making my way through this massive rock of a book of Gotham about the history of New York City, and you start finding the archaic language. And it’s always interesting. Not long ago I found that word expatiate that I said was not a word. And it turned out to certainly have been not all that long ago, as in in the early eighteen hundreds. Well, same thing. Here is Walt Whitman, the eighteen forties. He’s writing for a magazine and listen to him in a certain passage. This is him during that long and dreary winter. I made my preparations for quitting my home forever. Oh well Mike, do me a favor. Put that kind of crackly thing on this so that it sounds like I’m saying this in the forties and and then I’ll start again.
S2: During that long and dreary winter, I made my preparation for quitting my home forever. This was my only decided point. I determined to become an exile, but beyond that, I had no I. But to cast myself on the way to be born a far off perhaps. Well, I went on there right now.
S1: What was that? I meant to cast myself upon the waves, to be born far off and perhaps whelmed beneath them whelmed. You see that word a lot? I see it a lot for some reason in early eighteen hundreds stuff when I happened to be going through them for whatever reason whelmed once that that’s overwhelmed whelmed men overwhelmed, overwhelmed was quote unquote wrong. Nobody batted an eye and here we are today. So people said regardless that’s redundant but nobody says stop saying overwhelmed. Well why not, why not go back to whelmed? And it’s because there’s a general principle here, which is that potency weakens happens in real life and it happens with words. And so what has a certain punch today might not tomorrow. And so there’s always this churn happening where things are getting spiced up again. It’s just constant. So, for example, the word amazing. Do you imagine people saying amazing in nineteen twenty now? Of course they did. But do you imagine that they said it as much then as now? If you have a horse sense maybe from reading too much old stuff and watching too many old movies that they didn’t. You’re correct. In the 1980s, amazing jumps. And the reason that it jumps is because it replaces what used to be awesome. Now we use awesome today, but it’s narrowed into a slang meaning in most cases. So you say, oh, that was awesome. Like the old Chris Farley routine. Awesome. So it has this kind of teenaged ring and often you’re applying it to something that you wouldn’t say is exactly awesome. It’s often something rather small and you’re exhibiting a certain irony in using it. It used to be that also meant awesome. Awesome was, say, a castle. Awesome would say Sputnik, depending on how you felt about it. But once it kind of narrowed into that, your parents basement, Chris Farley, meaning, well, you needed something else to actually connote like. Well, and that was amazing. And then the funny thing is that awesome had had the same purpose with awful. Awful now is negative, it’s narrowed into meaning something sour, which is very common with words but awful, used to be able to refer to a castle, it filled you with all, my goodness, this is awful. And you didn’t mean anything bad about it, but awful went by the wayside. Awesome. Took over that meaning then awesome becomes Chris Farley. And next thing you know, you have amazing by the way, I don’t mean that Chris Farley himself did it. I’m just using that as an illustration. But next thing you know, you’ve got amazing, amazing always puts this little meme into my head. I once had occasion for reasons I won’t bore you with, with being in a try out production of what was supposed to be a Broadway bound version of a musical ization of The Prince and the Pauper. I played Lord Hartford for the record. And there was one song where the two kids who look just alike meet this. You could tell this wasn’t really going to go to Broadway, and partly because the songs were a little bit a little bit too direct or any Broadway musical written after about 1910. And I remember that that song that they sang, one of the lines was Bum, bum, bum. This is so amazing. I can’t believe it’s true. You look just like me and I look just like you. But that was one of the songs. I have to get that on the record. The Prince and the Pauper. This is way back in the 90s in any case, because that must have been so unpleasant. Let’s have an actual recording by a professional. I’ll bet a lot of you have heard this.
S3: Michael. On the far,
S4: far, far better.
S3: Okay. Ay, ay, ay, ay ay.
S1: We all know David Byrne, that’s that’s psycho killer, and then, of course, there’s the Casca say it wouldn’t be the song without the Kesk to say, well, that’s French for what is this? But if you really parse out Casca, say, I mean, it’s just a bleeding mess on the page, it looks like some sort of stuttering accident. Casca say is cours could say, which means, oh, what is this that this is. That’s what it is. What is this that this is that’s something that just happened. And if you say it quickly, it becomes Casca say, well, that’s extremely redundant. What is this that this is why do you have to put it that way? And whatever the reason is, why would anybody put up with it? It’s redundant. And yet, as we know, the French consider their language to be the most concise, the cleanest, the most cut glass, elegant language in the world. I don’t know. Maybe it is, but casca say is very redundant. Notice that, you know, with the David Byrne song, it’s dated now in that it presumes that everybody knows at least some French, you know, you’re supposed to know the Casca say means, what is this? My sense today is that now you would have to make it something in Spanish fashions change in that way as to what the sort of informal lingua franca is. But definitely back then in the 80s, you know, if you didn’t know any French, you did know Kaskaskia and then Voulez vous coucher avec moi, you knew that somehow. So what it’s all about is that you’ve got to keep things going. You’ve got to spice things up. It is kind of like what you can tell I’m I’m thinking about and you know, who knew Louis Armstrong. And the way that we know that he knew is because he used to make tapes of even casual things going on in his house. And no, not that. But he would make tapes of conversations that he would have with people. And it’s interesting because you get to hear people speaking casually at a time when this wasn’t something that people did in public when the mic was running as much. And so, for example, here is an actual recording of Louis Armstrong. He’s in bed and his wife comes into the room and they’re having this Randee conversation about how you have to keep the horn percolating. And really, this is a linguistic principle. So let’s hear Louis Armstrong talking about this in either the 1950s or the early 60s to actual people in his house in the neighborhood of Korona, which is next door to mine in Queens, in New York, you
S4: know, on comes race and you and your first acculturating animal, when you are you going with you, are you your mom with you are all right. I was having you on a late night in a mood of back to you to keep God regulated on your table and a result some of of that you get nervous. I don’t get nervous, but I you know, you you ain’t got no Pasterick,
S1: so you’ve got to keep on percolating. And he understood that that is the actual people. You know, the house is now a museum. I’ve been there. It is quite charming. I have probably been in the room where that recording was made. In any case, notice that his wife says at one point iRace off some of that shit. So there are two things about just that humble sentence. iRace off. Now, technically, that’s redundant. Would you tell her? I mean, really, she’s just talking. It could be iRace some of that shit because, you know, once you erase it, the oftenest comes for free. But in actual speech, the concepts come in a line. You’re thinking of the oftenest. What she means is get that off of the tape. And in case somebody is listening to it on something called a podcast and twenty twenty one. So you race off some of that shit. That’s how we talk. That’s why you get an uprising. That’s why you get it regardless. And then notice she says shit. Speaking of shit, there is a certain book I forget what it’s called Nine Nasty Words. I forget who wrote it me. But it is out now and I can’t help suggesting that you consider going to your friendly bookseller or pressing your friendly book button and checking it out. You can either read it or you can hear it. And if you hear it, it is read by me and it’s all about profanity. It’s not nine words that just sounded good. It’s really twelve words. And you heard about it here today. And because of that book, to help get us into the mind of considering making it part of our lives, profanity actually helps with this lesson. So, for example, in the book, of course, you know, I talk about damn high, talk about shit, I talk about ass. Right. But if you think about how the language is actually used, how we actually use those words, all of that is kind of tidying it up a little bit because really, that’s. Sam is nice, but goddamn is better and often more common, you know, I would usually not just say, damn, that’s a little little old and it’s a little weak if I’m going to use them, which I don’t that much, I would say, God damn, God damn well why? Because the God just spices it up. Damn and hell are particularly weak at this point. So you have to do other things, you know, therefore bloody hell God damn just keeps the horn percolating, keeps the whole population actually he said percolating, percolating that business of oil for her. That’s not just Brooklynese white people in 1920, that’s also Deep South. You hear it with black people and white people particularly. You have to keep the horn percolating and so goddamn or for shit. Why bullshit? Why that particular animal horseshit? It’s always about the farm. What is it? It’s just because shit is old and kind of weak. And so you want to add something. If somebody’s an ass, you’re going to make an ass of yourself. Notice that that’s a little naked. You’re just an ass. Notice how you really top it off. Like what you really do is you’ve got pie, but a lot of you don’t want to eat just pie. You want to put whipped cream on it. A lot of you don’t want to say, just ask. You want to put Jack on it, jackass. See, that’s it. There you feel the real click. He’s a jackass. But what is the difference between an ass and a jackass? I couldn’t say why is it called Jack? You can tell the story is going to be something kind of random, really. It’s just that you need something to make ass a little heavier and stronger because it’s a very old word. So don’t make an ass of yourself little print. Don’t make a jackass out of yourself, hits it right on the head. Or listen to this wonderful clip from the ever wonderful Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This is an exchange between the two middle aged people. This is Jeffrey Jones, the principal, and his assistant, Edie McClurg. And she, in the eighties and nineties, made a point of this business, of this bouffant head, kind of prim, proper person who all of a sudden is conversant in the Vulgate. And so listen to her talking about various groups of kids.
S5: Oh, well, he’s very popular. He had this Pardo’s and motor heads geek’s. Let’s blood’s waste of dweebs. They can’t they all are dolerite. They think he’s a righteous dude.
S1: The dickheads. OK, why, dickhead? Isn’t it just dick? Well, Dick head just makes it stronger. Why do you have to talk about that particular anatomical? The reason for that is that it makes it heavier. You’re reinforcing what, even by the nineteen eighties had become an ageing usage of the word dick. We talked about the history of that or I’m going to have to be careful here. I once was a son or straightway putting it. In any case, my father was talking about an old friend of my mother’s and I’m in my twenties at this point. And that’s when your parents start getting more honest about certain things, about people who you knew as Mister This or Mrs that when you were a kid. When I was a kid, you were still calling your elders Mr and Mrs if they weren’t your parents. And so my father said and he would, you know, it was he liked his Gnip and he had had some nips and he said, Oh yeah, I remember her. You know what she and he used a word for her. He said she was a dyke. What he meant was a lesbian. Then he said something I had never heard. Yeah, she was a day she was a big, bold dyke. He said, now, I’m not going to say that again, but I’d never heard anybody say that. And the thing is, she was not a large person. That term actually was the first one talking about nine nasty words. That was near the beginning. It starts as bull Diker and then it shortens to Bull Dyke and then you have Dyke. But when we’re talking about a conversation that took place in the 1990s, why was my father using that term? And you know what’s interesting is my father grew up in Philadelphia and these terms are first attested in exactly Philadelphia. It’s interesting. But why he was using reinforcement, what he meant was, you know, she is this and then he’s speaking colorfully. And so then he adds this thing on because that’s also available. Somebody he was born in nineteen twenty seven. So he still knew that term. I don’t know whether it’s current now. Our profanities are reinforced in that exact same way. Or listen to this, this is from one of my favorite musicals. This is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels from the mid aughts. This is the wonderful David Yazbek. I did a whole one of these episodes where I played only songs from his shows. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is so clever and so tuneful and so spot on that you might like it even if you don’t like musicals. In any case, this is actually one of the weaker songs. It’s a routine rather than a song meant to be listened to alone. This is. Sarah Gettelfinger singing Oklahoma. Now listen to a little something when she reveals that she’s not exactly a respecter of animals.
S4: Down in the panhandle, where we can handle all that beef cattle and the snakes are land that we go through that day, this’ll be the little piece of land that may have a lot up and be counted up up got knocked up to us by it. And I’ll be so happy since I’m bringing all the press to my little piece of paper in Oklahoma. The.
S3: That’s kind of come up with a therapy for
S4: those fuckers and be
S1: part of the tang of that line is the little fuckers. And that’s partly because if you think about it, there’s a bit of us that wants to make it motherfucker and motherfucker starts out with a literal meaning, but it loses it quickly, almost never. When you use that word, are you talking about incest? It’s just that it makes fucker more powerful by making the word longer. This is a general principle. There’s a likeness between of all things, irregardless and motherfucker. And if you like your mother fuckers, then you have to keep you regardless. This reinforcement is a general principle. Irregardless is just an illustration of something that happens in all languages all the time. And so you regard that words a little bit opaque, you know, regard. It’s one of these words that we get from French. And, you know, really the word is, look, regard little little distant. And so when you say regardless. Well, because as a part of us that doesn’t quite know what to regard is when we have other things to think about regardless, doesn’t feel as lessie as it could because you don’t know what’s being lost. So regardless, you just have to think of it as a chunk. And so it’s one thing to say witless. You don’t have any wit. OK, but regardless, what is it? It felt like it needed some reinforcement. And so er regardless didn’t feel redundant because regardless felt like it was just one chunk because regard is so weird and so you don’t quite feel like it’s a word about there being less of something. What it means is that as always, a lot of what is now is based on some shit that happened then, and there’s a story that the word irrespective had something to do with this, that irregardless is a blend of irrespective and regardless. And there may be something to that, but irrespective is a highly formal word that not everybody has exactly on the tips of their mind, so to speak. And the truth is, er regardless, could very easily have happened, even if there never was a word, irrespective. Largely we’re talking about the fact that we’re always reinforcing in ways that are in the strict logical sense, redundant. But language is never just like people are never strictly logical. So this is a general principle. You see it happening all the time. So for example, a little bit more profanity in this time. I’m not doing it because of the book is because this really is important. You go back to a musical like, don’t worry, I’m not going to play anything from it, partly because I can’t because it wasn’t recorded a musical like Follow the Girls. This is a musical mainly aimed at soldiers during World War Two who are in New York for some time on the town. Loud, crude, stupid Joe, follow the girls. Jackie Gleason was in it before television and he was playing a Jackie Gleason character. And the big joke with the Jackie Gleason character was that something would happen and he would smack his head and say, what the hell? That was one of the big jokes in Follow the girls. Now, what the hell? We all know what that means. But notice that nowadays it almost feels like not cursing to curse. We say, what the fuck now? What the fuck makes no literal sense in itself. You can’t pass it out. It’s just that hell got replaced by fuck because fuck is stronger. So what the fuck? And today, listen to people under maybe about thirty five and it’s becoming what the shit which starts as being funny, but it’s becoming just a new expression because what the fuck got old. There’s this constant reinforcement. So what the hell. 1944. What the fuck. Quite vivid and you know hot peppers. When I was in college in the early 80s, what the shit was almost inevitable later. That’s how these things go. Always the reinforcement and often you reinforce and then the old power wears away and then you have to have reinforcement again. And so, for example, old English I can’t sing was never gonna see. So it I may not concede on can sing on notice. Not no not it’s not. I cannot sing. It’s I know can sing but to reinforce it to say I really can’t sing shit. If that’s what you wanted to say then you would say never can not see. Not is now not so I can sing nothing. I really can’t sing a thing. After a while the little know the name wore off. Next thing you know, you have contacts sitting on, you don’t see that on paper, but that’s where we get I can not sing. So for a while it was just I know I can sing then it’s I know cannot sing. Then it becomes I cannot sing. Here we go. And so today we might want to reinforce it. I cannot sing a thing. I cannot sing for example. Shit, we’re reinforcing it again. And who knows where that’s going to go. All of that is perfectly natural, as natural as in that clearest of clear languages. French, many of you were probably thinking of it. And so French has this ner and the pas. I don’t walk, you know much. No, that’s archaic because you have to say pas you know, mouth pop. I don’t walk don’t wise French like that. Well you know as always there’s a story and so it used to be in French. You can imagine it made sense at first. You just take it from Latin. What it is is I know walk you know much and you just leave it there. And because you’re medieval, you dropped it. That’s all there was. But you could reinforce it. Parman step. So I know. Walk a step. I’m not going to walk a step. I’m going to stand right here and drop dead of the plague. And so, you know, not pop. Now, that was just one thing because it could be I’m not going to drink a drop. You know what? Good. I’m not going to drink a drop. I’m not going to eat a crumb, you know? Moans Me, there was a whole series of those I can’t see, even a little pinpoint, you know, what went OK. Well, the thing is, you keep doing that year after year, decade after decade, new people are born after the plague, etc., and it stops being strong. So, you know, my spot might not mean I’m not going to walk a step anymore. It might just now mean I’m not going to walk. That means that you have redundancy. You know, a lot of us learned in textbooks where it’s, you know, Mars bar. And so you have this kind of headphones on the verge. Why do you need the two pieces? It doesn’t seem to make sense. It’s because it began as reinforcement. And then, of course, today you learn that in real French, you say, musbah. And so now in the spoken language, you can’t even tell about this reinforcement process because it’s now just going back to zero except with a different word. This is just the way it goes. French is handy with this general process. And so, for example, oh, that is love. That is, you love the way it’s mid 20th century caricature French. I’m sorry, but that’s love. SA salamu Sassella mool you could say salamu. That’s love. A little weak really the way they would say it is Sassella. See that is love. That’s how you say it. Now if you say sa say langmuir what you’re saying is that that is love is the most elegant way of saying it. Sassella more but it’s quite redundant. Nevertheless SA salamu that that is love that business of starting with one thing and calling attention to it and then actually appending your full sentence. Afterword in linguistics. This is called topic comment. Topic hyphen comment. That’s French. So let’s say that that’s French. That’s how you do it. And yet it’s quite redundant. Regardless, the French think of it as the most wonderful thing in the world and then you can even zero in. It’s like you’ve got a microscope. I thought my girl’s a microscope and we now we can’t figure out what to look at. Any suggestions? I got all these slides and, you know, they have some slides where, you know, butterfly scale or something, but that that gets old. What are we going to look at? Because you can’t look at language on the actual slide. In any case, it’s a wonderful microscope. I can’t wait to really use it. But what are we going to look at? What I’d like to look at is say one word in French like SA. So what’s what’s sa where did that come from? Did that come from some Latin word? Satullo No, it came from Latin lilac. If you say ELAC, enough times die of the plague a few times and come back to life. Then it comes out as sa I kid you not. And what did you mean. That meant that there that was kind of redundant if you think about it. Because if it’s that where else would it be here then you can’t say oh that here. No. If it’s that then it’s over there. By definition it’s not here. ELAC, which sounds like some digestive disease becomes SA and so that’s redundant. And then you have Sassella, Muya and that’s redundant again. And yet this is from. Which is supposedly the perfect language, you know, there is a song called That, and because it’s time for a song here, let’s listen to some lesser Cole Porter. Porter kind of loses it at the end for various reasons. This is 1957. This is Lay Girls. That movie is about as good as that sounds. This is Tina Elde, who was finished for the record. And if there’s one song that I like in Lay Girls, at least a little bit, it is Sassy La Mule. And the reason I’m playing it is because this is how I figured out that real French does this. I first saw this in the 80s and I thought, notice how Porter, who knew his French very well, has her saying not Salamo SA say Lamore. I thought, Yeah, that’s idiomatic, isn’t it? And I didn’t know what topic comment was at the time, but you learn things. So this is Gene Kelly and Tina ALG in a boat and she is lip synching Sassella. She did sing, but you can tell that it was just playing on the set
S3: and went on the night He Loves You in return song. Singing I go.
S4: Then also, dreary day.
S3: Your. Goes away. And only so far, you are sure. Not when he retired. So you must be. You take him in your local your son
S4: wanted me when the phone. Saucing.
S1: I have always had this silly little mental meme because, you know, French spelling isn’t as bad as English is, but it does suck. And I was imagining some poor person who has no way of knowing that you don’t pronounce French the way it’s written and looking at Sassella more on the page and thinking that it’s ca c’est la and then going in and auditioning and singing the song car casts. Anyway, I’m sharing too much on this show. I’m sorry. Redundancy is a general concept in linguistics. It’s everywhere. Linguists talk about redundancy. And so if you see something like it, regardless, you know what we think it redundancy. It’s just part of how things go. And so when you’re reinforcing in this kind of way, what you’re doing is you’re making the language redundant. And the thing is, all language is redundant to a point for a language to actually index human cognitive quests for vividness, there’s going to be some redundancy. And what I mean by redundancy is the sorts of things which otherwise we don’t see is wrong at all. And so, for example, think about Spanish. We’ve been using a lot of French on the show and most people know Spanish these days, Spanish, the White Houses. So the houses whites is the way you say it. Or really it’s like those houses whites. That’s that’s the plural definite article. If it was just one house and it’s Lukasiewicz, Las Casas, Blanca’s, Las Casablanca’s and that kind of redundant, why do you need it so often? Everybody would know what you meant. If you said Las Casablanca, it would be quite clear. Wouldn’t that be quote unquote better? And, you know, there are dialects of Spanish or to jump over to Portuguese. So it’s cause us bronchus I don’t know where I’m getting Nazih, but I have to make it different from Spanish. And I’ve never come up with a Portuguese voice yet. So let’s have it be that as Khazars Bronchus. OK, now if you listen to many people in, for example, Brazil, then the way that you would say as Khazars Bronchus is as Casablanca, as Casablanca. I know what this is. I think I’m thinking about Carmen Miranda. I’m going to keep thinking about her. So that’s Casablanca. Put up it up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up. So you just say us and that’s the plural as casa baranca and that gets it across fine. But of course, that’s considered slangy. That’s considered to be something different than what’s on the page, which is Asgharzadeh Khazars Bronchus or in Spanish last Cassus Blanca’s. Well, you know, if it’s wrong to get rid of the redundancy, then I think we’ve really got a problem. It means that we kind of like redundancy when we just haven’t been taught to treat it like poor Ken. So our moral, if irregardless isn’t a word, then either is uprising or overwhelm and it’s just overdoing it to say bullshit and what the fuck? And Spanish speakers need to just say last Casablanca and be done with it. And of course, the answer to all of that is what the fuck? And it means that irregardless is really just fine. And, you know, let’s go out on this song from 1974. This is Billy Preston singing. It’s called Nothing from Nothing Leaves Nothing. I remember this song. I remember sitting in some probably shamefully gas guzzling car, listening to it in the back seat and loving it. It’s funny how memory distorts. I remember there being a female chorus behind it, but no. And you know the title Nothing from Nothing Leaves Nothing that seems like it somehow pertains to the subject of this episode. But if you think about it, it doesn’t just like it. And so this is the sort of thing you would hear getting motion sick because you were trying to read in the back seat of that car back during the time when Richard Nixon was resigning. Nothing from nothing.
S4: Nothing from nothing. We’ve got to have nothing. If you want to pay me.
S3: Nothing from nothing, nothing. You got to have something if you want to be with me.
S1: You can reach us at Lexicon Valley, at Slate Dotcom, that’s Lexicon Valley at Slate dot com, to listen to past shows and subscribe or just to reach out, go to Slate dotcom slash Lexicon Valley. You know, I was on Bill Maher have to tell you and it was fun. I could not help saying that. They even gave me Mango Madness Snapple in the green room. I said the one thing that I would want if I could be picky, if I could be kind of the Jaylo as I want. And they actually gave it to me. I’m still vibrating about that. Anyway, Mike Volo is, as always, the editor. And I am John McWhorter from the.
S3: And I’m not stuffing.
S1: You know what I like to do in these Slate plus segments, I like to get in the etymology because I know a lot of people want more etymology because people ask me, John, why don’t you do more etymology? And I always say, well, if you do them in a row, they get dull. But here with Slate plus, you just get to have them as little tidbits. Remember those snacks? They were called tidbits. Like now we still have cheeses. But I think there was another member of the family. They were called tidbits. They were these little better nuts. They were nice. And I miss tidbits. Anyway, these tidbits allow me to get in some etymology and I’m going to start way off on the steps of Ukraine. And so it’s 6000, 8000 years ago. And there’s this language, Proteau Indo-European one word that they almost certainly had was weird. I’m just making up that they were tonal language, but weird, so weird. Refer to things that were wet. We get wet from where we also get water from weird water, water, water, something like that. So it was the wet word, OK, but you never know what’s going to happen to a word as it bumps along westward into what we now call Europe and it gets all chewed up. You say wood. Well, wood can become wood because wood and you are similar, that kind of kissy lip thing. So good mood, it becomes wood and a certain point then ends have a way of kind of jumping in things get Nazel so mood wound and wound that something that happens and noses in and it’s kind of like a cat. So you get unde at this point where in what’s now Italy. And so you’ll have a verb like under Unda in Latin, that’s Italy that meant to flow one Wundowie to flow as in we get it direct from Latin as to undulate. So Unda undulate so under our own to think of it as well. So you’ve got a flow. OK, well you could flow again and flowing again like flowing too much that could mean to overflow. And so what you have there, let’s say that you’re going to reflow, you’re going to wander round. OK, that’s a little weird to say. And in some cases in Latin, if you had way before something that began with a vowel, then you stuck in a D and so. Well, you know, Rylander. Well, how about red? You know, red. And I was wondering, what’s Redonda meaning to overflow? Redonda is to overflow. And that’s where we get redundant. Redundant, redundant comes from Latin for to overflow and it all starts with wedd which is wet and would eventually become something like in Italy or and that is redundant as an overflowing as in too much. And then there’s that British meaning. I never knew it until relatively late in life. The idea, please don’t make me redundant. And that means that don’t fire me, don’t get rid of me. That usage. I didn’t know what actually until the office, the British office, please don’t make me redundant. And I had to kind of work to figure out what he meant. But imagine you start with something like Weird in Ukraine and then people in Slough, if that really exists in Britain, are using it to mean that you’re going to fire somebody because they qualify as overflow. Isn’t language wonderful word? Please don’t make me redundant. All of it is related.