S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership at. From New York City, this is Lexicon Valley, a podcast about language. I’m John McWhorter. And, you know, this show is going to be kind of a good old fashioned lexicon valley as hosted by me. I want to just work with one sentence at something that came to me recently. I was watching through the fourth season of the Crown, getting to a kind of late. But frankly, I’ve spent the pandemic watching so much garbage, like the 4000 episodes of The Jeffersons that I realized I hadn’t gotten to the Crown is kind of weird seeing somebody playing Lady Di, although that actress is amazingly good. But there was this one sentence and I just thought as it went by, wow, there’s so much history in that one. Mundane, shaggy, stupid little sentence. It’s the episode with this troubled gentleman, Fagan, who breaks into Buckingham Palace and has a conversation with the Queen. So hard to believe that actually happened. But at one point in his back story, so to speak, he’s having trouble with some official. And the official says you’re going to have to take that up with council. You don’t have to take that with council instead of listen to me do a bad estuary. British accent Listen to the clip from the Crown. The episode is Feygin.
S2: I want to spend time with me right now that I’ve seen the flat and said it needs improving. There’s more damage. I want to fix it. You’re not a primary tenant. My wife’s the primary challenge, but she’s left. I just explained. It have to be the primary tenant about address before we could even consider paying for the damages. We tried talking to the council. No, they told me to speak to you. Look, if this doesn’t get so, I don’t get to see my kids. You’re going to have to tighten up the council,
S1: so you hear that, Mike, do me a favor. Play that again. It’s just this one little sentence
S2: you’re going to have to tighten up the council.
S1: So there’s a story in practically every word. It’s why linguists just watch language going by. And from the outside, it looks like we’re not judgmental. But really what we see all of this as is a kind of spectator sport. Every word in that sentence is a story. So let’s just start. You know, you’re going to have to take that up with council. You you. So just the word you. It’s this guy addressing Fagan, who is one person, and he’s using it in the singular. But that’s not the way it was supposed to be. And there was a time when people had trouble with this because you starts out as the plural you it starts out that it’s thow in the singular thou is, say, your friend standing in front of you so that you are going to have to take that up with council that aren’t going to have to take that up with council. You is plural. Now, at a certain point they started using the plural word in the singular first as a mark of a kind of distancing respect, the idea being that you refer to somebody as two people in order to avoid being so direct as to address them as one. And of course, we see that throughout Europe. And so vew applied to one person in French, for example, or is my favorite language Russian, where you can address one person is we and so on. But in English, the strange thing is that then the singular word just disappears, at least in the standard variety. And so that ends up going. And you have you and you as singular and plural. That’s an odd thing. It happens in some other languages. Hindi comes to mind, but it’s not the usual and nobody really knows exactly why. That was the story in English now now does not disappear entirely. It is still used actually in many colloquial varieties and was used even more in regional, for example, varieties before. So Lady Chatterley’s Lover, you can learn a lot about this from the male huncke in that he’s got his regional dialect and at one point he’s trying to get her to come over for what we might call a booty call. And he says the moon come to the cottage one time. The moon and the moon is thou must thou must come to the cottage one time. That’s what he says to her. But that’s way out there that’s uneducated him in the standard. Thou gradually just vanishes. And there’s a little more about you in that it’s the wrong case. You starts out as the accusative form. The nominative form was ye hear ye, hear ye. That means y’all hear you all hear you or something like you know I would like to kick you all kick you. And so that means that when we say you are going to have to take that up with counsel, it’s almost like saying me is going to have to take that up with counsel as if me ate everything up. Very interesting thing how pronouns are always kind of oozing all around there like chinchilla’s in a box. I once knew somebody who had chinchilla’s in a box, and the only interesting thing they did is they never stopped moving. They are always shooting all around each other. Pronouns are like chinchilla’s in a box. So you are when it really should be. Ah, and you know, this reminds me of something. It’s a genuine question that I’ve had about a rather obscure Broadway show tune. This is from Pajama Game and I’m playing it not because I like the song that much, but because what it’s called is her is like her is the kind of gal what drives a fellow Batz. Now, this is supposed to be working class white Midwesterners in the nineteen fifties. And I’ve always wondered, and if anybody knows, please tell me that anybody in American English ever actually say colloquially her is that’s the kind of girl I’d like to marry her is. Did anybody ever say that or is that just in this song. To give you a sense, here’s the song. This is Stanley Prager singing in 1953 efore for The Pajama Game.
S3: Power is a kind of what drives up love that is in her hair is her. A kind of shape, what really is the cat has in her hair. Has my wife, she ain’t on the stand and she ain’t like her, is this here? Ain’t no line I’m handed. All right. Should drop dead. Right where I’m standing here is a snappy dresser. What is dressed to kill isn’t her hair is her is the only doll from which I get a thrill as in her hair is her is wrong. No way Buttershaw can beat him. This gonna get her yet. I’m gonna gadkari yet
S1: another thing on this. So ye olde tobacco shop ye is not the. There was no time when people said ye instead of that quote unquote. Why is an orthographic convention for what was meant as therp. So it’s the old tobacco shop. Nobody was ever talking about you old tobacco shop or something like that. As you can see one could go on and on and on about you. There’s a book being written right now not by me about they everybody wants to talk about they partly because of the grand old singular. They tell each student they can bring in their paper whenever they want to. And now the new specific referential, they as in my girlfriend is in the hospital and they would like to get a haircut there or something like that. So they is interesting. But you could do a book about you, not me is going to do it, but somebody could do a whole book about this funny thing. You, you know, a little more. There used to be a you that you used for only two people rather than three or more English, had a word you eat, not that you eat that the kids are using nowadays to mean to throw some piece of shit in the trashcan. It was you eat that meant to use and so you to go over there, you didn’t have to say you too. You could just say, eat, go over there. And you know what? The accusative was ink. And so I wish to kick you to you could say I wish to kick ink. The possessive was incr. So you two’s lamp incr lamp. That was the interesting sort of thing you used to have in this now boring language. And so, for example, early middle English would still had a lot of old English in it. How can you not know who we are? How can you two not know who we two are is what it meant and how that one was. And for early middle English, we’re going to use the old English voice because you can tell it was that same dirty, violent world. So how who matter who met? How can you not know Nagaina know it. That’s not know you. How do you not know who made Danique knotweed and then what we are left with both. So what we are now the eat is utu and the wheat is wheater same thing. There was you know I we as a whole bunch of I’s and then wheat was we too. So who met Unacknowledged Lad with bells. How can you not know who we are. We had eat and now we just have boring old you boring English. So, folks, it’s time for an announcement. Yeah, you knew it was coming. I have said that I was going to let Lexicon Valley go in June and I am going to reveal in this episode that actually that’s not true. Lexicon Valley is going to continue, but under different auspices. Lexicon Valley very soon will be moving to sub STAC and it’s going to be part of a new family of podcasts called Book Smart. The book Smart podcast include two others hosted by Bob Garfield and Aamna Khaleed. This will not be behind a paywall. You will still get Lexicon Valley, but at least many of you seem to have enjoyed. I’m going to keep the show tunes and I will be being more topical. I’ve been doing this version of Lexicon Valley now for five years. I’ve enjoyed it. I’d like to change it up a little. And so it’s going to be more from the headlines than it used to be. Not angry. It’s not going to be a show about what gets on my nerves, or at least not very often. But we’re going to make it a slightly more topical show. Nevertheless, it will have the same basic flavor that a lot of you enjoy. If you choose to pay for it, though, you will get bonus content. It’s kind of like the slate plus arrangement, but different. There will be goodies that you get if you decide to pay for it. But this is to say that Lexicon Valley is not ending there times when it’s not about endings, but new beginnings and so will be moving to substract specifically book Smart Studios Dog that’s book smart. And then studios run together. Book Smart Studios Dog. You’re going to have to take that up with counsel, OK, so you are going to have to take that up with counsel are just that word that to be in English is this train wreck of four different verbs, the one for Amanah, then there’s one for is then there’s one for B and then there’s one for was and wah wah, as I apparently say were how do you say it. But it’s those four verbs. It was a crunch of all of those to create this wonderful verb. It’s the one verb in English where you kind of have this feeling of feeling sorry for foreigners, for having to learn all the different forms. It’s it’s the one thing where you get the pleasure of feeling like English is really hard. English is normal in that way. Imagine I am. You are. He is. We are. You are. They are. And then it was b that’s difficult. It’s just this crunch. It’s like the crunch of a bad cereal in the 80s. It’s like it’s the early eighties and you’re bored and there’s no internet and you’re watching TV and you’re into video games for about ten minutes. And one of them is Donkey Kong. And of course, they make a Donkey Kong cereal. I used to really love the song for the commercial and I listen to it recently and the song frankly sucked, but it did have the word crunch in it. And so here is what I thought it was one of the better commercial jingles 40 years ago. Donkey Kong Cereal. You’ll love the crunch. No.
S3: On your breakfast TV. Donkey Kong.
S4: Possible scenario is going to give you a
S3: call out the board for you to complete your
S1: book, but also he doesn’t say you are going to have to take that up with counsel. He says your and of course, in British English, it’s your you know, you’re going to your so that your is you are he’s not talking too fast. What he’s saying is your and so you’ve got a consonant and a vowel and that’s the form. So you have these crunches in the language. If you’re really going to learn how to talk the way that man talks, if you go there, you learn to say it’s not you are that’s on the page. But you don’t say that unless you’re being very explicit. You have to say you’re an in British, you’re just to your it’s this different form. And so, yeah, the verb to be helps make English a mess in the same way you have something like we are that in British wet. So you have to learn that they are that. So they’re people too, that people do so that you have to learn these little things where what happens is that it starts with this be form like you know is am ah but then it just kludges on to that pronoun before it messes the pronoun up. And really there’s nothing left of the separate form of B but just some vowel sound you are. Yeah. That’s all. So it’s kind of like the Cheshire cat leaves behind his smile. Same thing. There is magic in to be, that’s in languages in general I should say about every other language, all sorts of interesting things are happening with this business of I am your father, Luke, or something like that. It’s always an interesting place to look. There may be nothing some languages don’t have a word for that, but even if they don’t, they kind of really do. And you have to know when Russian as an example, again, it’s called the copula, I swear it really is called that. Bringing things together. And the copula is always interesting. I recommend the copula. Play it again.
S2: You’re going to have to tighten up the council.
S1: So technically, he’s saying going to even that’s a little bit of magic. Going to you’re going to where’s he going? He’s not referring to fake and having to take his feet and walk somewhere. It’s a way of marking the future, sort of. I’ll get to that in a bit. But English has only had that. I’m going to mail a letter. I’m going to get eczema when allergy season happens or something like that. That only happens in the sixteen hundreds in any real way before that. If you’re going, it’s that you’re going to go somewhere and you’re not going to be where you were before. But because if you’re going to do something, where are you going. I’m going to mail a letter that implies that you’re going to do it in the future. So after a while, going to starts to mean the future, even if it doesn’t involve feet, like you’re not going to take your body over somewhere to purchase some eczema. If you say I’m going to get some of that means that’s going to happen in the future. But that means that you’ve developed going to as a piece of grammar, going to becomes an equivalent in a sense of just will I will get eczema when allergy season comes, I’m going to get eczema when allergy season comes. That’s not something everybody talks about in the old documents. But I just happened to be thinking about it. And so that’s called grammatical ization. Unlike eczema, grammatical ization is not a chronic condition. It’s how you get these grammatical constructions in a language. It starts out as literal, real word things, things you can hold in your arms like a cat, things you can really think about, like jumping. But then you get the bits of grammar like the wills and the OTS and the goods and next thing you know, going to stops even being said that way because it no longer means going you’re not trying to get that across. And that’s where you get Gunar, as in what our guy says in the Crown episode. And Gunar is a bit of grammar. We think of Ghana as what happens when you say going too too fast and it’s kind of slangy or something like that. But no, it’s a new piece of grammar. It’s not going to notice that. You would never say, I’m going to the store. You say I’m going to the store. Somebody is going to say, You’re going to what? The store I’m going to the store is not. If you say it quickly, I’m going to the store. Ghana is its own thing. And it developed from this going to usage that started crystallizing in the hundreds. And so then that gives you a sense of black English. And so I’ma go to the store is I sell high myself to the store, but I’m I go to the store. Has it just up is the future marker. The Martian would think of it that way and that starts out as going to and you know, it’s not just English. Where this sort of thing happens with going this is normal human cognition, a language I never bring up, actually has an example of this as a language spoken in Russia, it’s called Russian. And you can have a word that means going. And so, for example, you can say on particular for Ghosty, and that means like he is going to be a guest somewhere, he’s going to be a guest with us and so on. And that’s he’s going. But then that predicate ends up becoming something that means obligation. It can be like, you know, prebuilt stook, not Gaviota, and that means to smack somebody. So he has to that doesn’t mean that he’s walking up to somebody and taking his hand and going to him. Why is all this violence in me today? I’m sorry, but it means that he has to smack the person in order to stop them from climbing up Buckingham Palace or something like that. And notice this. If you say you’re going to have to take that up with council, you are actually using the future. That’s not really what it means. It doesn’t mean at a point that is ahead of this one, you’re going to have to take it up with the council because why would you specify that? Of course, if he’s not doing it now, then you’re not going to specify that he’s going to be doing it later. The reason that you say you will you are going to have to take that up with the council is because it’s one of these many things in English that is a softener that we don’t think of. That way. You could say you have to take it up with council. A person might say that the way that you say it in a way that is less likely to antagonize this clearly slightly batshit person is to say you’re going to have to take that up with the council. You put it in the future because then it’s less in your face. So much of language is that kind of thing. It’s the opposite of something like the waiter who comes up and says, well, what were you thinking? You’d have I don’t know why it’s a telephone operator in nineteen thirty seven, but let’s keep that so. All right sweetie, what were you thinking you’d have. Well why is it in the past. Because you’re sitting right there. Because if you think about it, she says, what do you think you’re going to have. It’s a little in your face. Back off Beatrice. Her name is Beatrice. For some reason you say, what were you thinking you’d have? Because it kind of displaces it. That sort of softening is as much of language and communication as concrete things like referring to jumping and cats. If you can’t do that, you’re not human and you have to just stay in your house. So that is the going to you’re going to have to have to have. What does that have? It’s the funniest thing. It seems so ordinary in English. I have a book there is a book that is in my possession. And so I have that thing that is not the way all languages work. And the truth is that if you look around the world at things that cluster in places, if you go to East and Southeast Asia, lots of tones, you can almost expect it. If you go to Native American languages in North America, lots of uvular consonants, you can expect that there’s going to be that sort of thing, especially in the northerly ones. That is is normal little things that cluster in the world, South America, evidential markers. You have to say whether you heard it, you saw it or it’s here say that clusters in the Amazon, something that clusters in Western Europe, is having a word that means to have the idea that you would say that you have something actively as opposed to putting it in some other way. So, for example, take Beatrice Benadir Aderet, Ben Adara, the voiceover artist who did a lot of the women in Looney Tunes in the nineteen forties and into the fifties. This is Little Red Riding Rabbit. This is the bobbysoxers teenager. And notice how she uses have this is classic Western European having that would be hard to translate into other languages. I would love to see how they do this in the Estonian Bugs Bunny, but I can’t tell because somebody once gave me a VHS of Bugs Bunny in Estonian and I never managed to play it anyway. So listen to Ben Aderet doing the bobbysoxers,
S3: getting a blank. And why do you think my pocket battery. Shabangu, da da da da da da da da da da. But you got got it. Got it. A bunny rabbit, which I take it to my grandma to have say
S1: so, to have a real language just as often does to have with something like it is to me. It is of me. And there might be some word that means to have but it’s not used all the time if you’re dealing with a language somewhere else in the world. But Western Europe, often you’ve got to get past the idea that you say, I have a stomachache, I possess a cat. Notice also you have to you’re going to have to take that up with council. Have to means obligation. It’s something that you have to do. Well, you know, that is an indication of the chance element in change because in a language, if you’ve got this have stuff is going to happen to it and you’re going to say, well, I have to do something. And to us in English, we think, well, of course, it means that you are obliged to do it. But, you know, in other languages have to comes out meaning something else. It may be that you have this obligation to do something. But also if you have an obligation to do something, it implies that you’re going to do it in the future, just like if you’re going to it. And so, for example, in vulgar Latin, not Latin, spoken by people who pick their nose, but just Latin as was actually spoken, as opposed to the artifice of Cicero or something like that in vulgar Latin, to have to do something meant that you were going to do it in the future. So if you know you’re picking your way through Cicero and you’re talking about loving in the future, I will love Amable. And you have an ending in real Latin. Another way of saying it, just like we have more than I will go. We’ve got you know, I am going to go and, you know, I shall go. There were other ways of doing the future in real Latin, and one of them was I have to love. And that didn’t mean I’m obliged to love this person who I’m in an arranged marriage with or something like that. And then I will love this person later, if that’s what you wanted to say. So, for example, Amara is to love Haibao is I have so unmarriageable meant not I must love my purchased bride. I’m sorry but not that. But unmarriageable meant I am going to love in the future. Say that quickly and you’ve got a mahavir amateur amateur amateur hour. Middle America is Italian, complete with the high tone that Italian has to be spoken on. Metal is I will love and that is all that’s left of what was the Habil. And so I have to love became those future tense markers that you learn if you’re dealing with French, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese. And also talk about the softening to know English obligation. How do you say that somebody needs to do something you can start with? Might you might want to take that up with the council. Crazy motherfucker. That’s how I would deal with him and I wouldn’t call him that. But you might want to take that up with the council to avoid him, you know, trying to shoot me or a little stronger. You ought to take that up with the council, something that you really should do. And then although leaves room for the person not doing it. Yeah. Consider the complete with this high voice. You ought to do it so that. But then you have to do it. You have to you’re going to have to take that up with the council. Gunar distances it yet again, but you have to take it up with the council and that’s it. You must take it up with the council or piano will fall on you. You must. So it’s kind of like might have to must and then better you better take it up with the council or I’m going to smack you. That’s what that means. You’ve got those five levels, no grammar book. We’ll teach you that. You better get out of here or I shall smite thee. That’s what it means. Better get out of here because it is time for a song and there is a song called Better Get Out of Here. It is from Where’s Charlie? Which is written by Frank Loesser, who did Guys and Dolls. This is a farce set to music, good music. There was no cast album in the United States when this was done because there was a recording strike, but they did it over across the pond and they did do an album. This is called Better Get Out of Here. And it’s Victorian women who are wondering whether they should be alone in the quarters of a gentleman. Then the gentleman saying the gentleman would be Ray Boulger, the scarecrow from Wizard of Oz if there were an American cast recording instead. Is these British people, we don’t know who they are over here. So I’m not going to say who they are, frankly, because I don’t really know them either. But it’s a very catchy song. This is better get out of here before they do. We want to
S3: use is not the sort of thing he had. You wouldn’t dream of trying
S4: to kiss me, but even gently holding my. He wouldn’t dream of trying. After all this, Civilise told just to be on the safe side of the.
S3: Jack, suppose they stayed? Wouldn’t it be daring
S1: and wouldn’t it be fun? So you’re going to have to take that up with the council, take up with what is a word people are always talking about? Well, English has the most words. Russians say that, too. I have heard Spaniards say it, and I don’t know the answer to that question. Part of it is that written languages have big giant dictionaries and they have all these words in them that nobody uses. But which one has the most words? Well, I don’t know what a word is, and I have done that in an early episode of Lexicon Valley, and I want to revisit that to an extent. So take up with, well, the word we think is take, but what does take mean and whatever it means, it’s really a tiny sliver of the sorts of things you can do with Take because we have these little particles. So you’re going to take it up with the council. OK, so take it up means that you have to go consult council about this. You’re going to talk about some issue and you use it specifically about things that are a little bit challenging that you’d rather not talk about. It’s usually something official or at some conflict that you have. And so you’re going to take it up. Take up is a separate word. If you think about it from take really if you’re going to look at words in a language, because if you just shook the dice and threw them again, then there’d be some separate word other than take up. And you can probably think of some consult. For example, you’re going to have to consult about that with the council. But we can also say take up. Is that the same word as take? Is that a usage of take? One take is so generic. And so, for example, take up what does take up mean? You can take it up with the council, but you can also take up a hobby. Is that the same word as taking something up with the council? Somebody takes up space. Is that the same word as taking up a hobby? Obviously not. And then if you’re taking up space, is that the same word as taking up with the council? C They’re completely different. These are three different concepts that are labeled with the same bits of material. But the semantic relationship between taking it up with the council, taking up a hobby, taking up space and taking up your marbles, the literal meaning of it, all of those are completely different things. How many words does English have while it can’t be about take and that long entry in the dictionary? Because frankly, I’ve just given you four words. It just depends on what you call a word and then notice. Take that up. He doesn’t say take that up. He says take that up. That is a glottal stop. And it’s one of those things in English. We don’t think of that as a real sound. We think it’s cute when people in Britain do it. And it’s interesting. We don’t like to admit that we do it. So, for example, cotton, a Cotton Bowl, it’s a Cotton Bowl. Cotton Bowl. I have had the most interesting conversations with people where they say, no, I say cotton, no, you don’t. Or you might. But it’s cotton. We do the glottal stop. I have had people write to me and I can put myself in their heads and say, lately people are saying cotton instead of cotton. It’s not great because actually in an earlier episode, I played people in an unusually crystal-clear recording from the early 30s. They’re already saying certain cotton people have been saying it long before that the glottal stop doesn’t feel like a real sound to us because we don’t write it. But to see how real it is, all you have to do is go to a language where the difference between, for example, that up and that up would be a complete difference and meaning, you know, an example of that. There’s a lot of that talk about what cluster’s in language is a lot of that in Polynesia. And so the Hawaiian language is one of the Polynesian languages. The way you say something is completed is Paul. But if you say that’s not just a funny way of saying Pol Pot means a smudge, and then if you make the vowels longer, it changes the meanings to for the record. So as opposed to Pol Pot is a smudge, pot is moist. And then if you say PA, oh, that’s a kind of Scurr. So Pol Pot and PA are for different words. It’s finished. It’s a smudge of stuff. It’s something that’s kind of icky and moist. It’s skirt. All of that is not only the length of the vowels, but also the glottal stop. There’s a bilabial stop in a language, but there is an alveolar stop in the language. There’s a velar soft palate stop in a language. You can go further back and there’s a glottal stop there. They all kind of interact. We just don’t write the glottal stop. And so we don’t understand our cotton or that you have to take that up with council. It’s interesting about that, that if you say that enough, you’re pointing to something that is not this, but that. After a while, that becomes the that’s where that comes from. In earlier English, and especially before English was English, there were no definite articles. You can leave that kind of thing to context. Most languages in the world do not have a word for and a word for. You don’t need to have a particular word for that. You can do that with context. You can do that with word order. You can do that in ways that I don’t want to bother you with here. But you do not have to have two weird little words like the and and it’s interesting. That is originally something that happens when English has three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter. And so that becomes the and for a while we had definite articles in those three flavors. You had the masculine, feminine and neuter. The neuter won one out. And that’s where we get the verb from. But the masculine in the feminine to us seem very strange. They were say and sad. But what the hell is that say is a boy. Seyah is a girl and then fat is a neuter. And so that’s the way it went. Well we have over from that. But what happened to say and say and you know, something did happen to them. They just went down the toilet. But Seyah, that’s where we get she. And so it used to be that he and she were different in old English. He was he hey, is how you said it, she was hair. She was not shey or something like I was hair. Hey. And hair in some dialects hair became just hey. And so you didn’t have any difference between he and she. A language doesn’t mind that. But still it was an odd state for English. Hey. Hey. So for example her the object form him her. We still have a remnant of something beginning with H in the feminine. Hey. Hey. Well what happened is that in these hey hey dialects you needed something. You felt like you wanted something to indicate the feminine because that’s the way English used to be. Other dialects had it kind of bothered people. And so say that feminine definite article became she as in that girly thing there. I don’t know what people were thinking, but that’s what she comes from. And, you know, even on a previous show, I’ve talked about a different derivation of she that is extremely involved. And it goes that, hey, I started being pronounced here and the here. And I frankly have decided that that’s a little odd and a little forced. I think that she came from say that’s much easier, but it’s not like, hey, I just became hey everywhere in some places. Hey, I went in a different direction, just like have to can go in two different directions. And so, hey, here he is in Manchester. If you really listen hard, especially to people who are kind of out there and haven’t happened to have much education, then hey, I became. Oh, and so there’s he and then. Oh is she. So the situation before was very different from the situation now. And it gets me to to thinking for no reason at all. You know what’s coming, Magin? If somebody asks you imagine dealing with this challenge, you have to write a song about the Louisiana Purchase. Imagine somebody says, well, this show is called Louisiana Purchase and we need a title song. Sit Down, Irving Berlin, write a song about the Louisiana Purchase. Now I’m sitting here thinking, what would I do as somebody who would never be asked to do that? And you’re thinking Louisiana Purchase and whatever you come up with is going to be the worst song in the world. Somehow Irving Berlin came up with one of the catchiest songs ever written about the Louisiana Purchase. My Dolia, I played this in the car. She asked me to play it six times in a row. I have watched supremely unmusical people driven wild with pleasure by this song and angry at me that they’re still humming it to themselves the next day, including people who can’t even hum. This is one of the catchiest songs ever written. This is just a little bit of it for no reason other than that. I listen to it in the car the other day and thoroughly enjoyed it. Louisiana Purchase.
S3: I’ll tell you what it means. It means I’d like to sell you New Orleans. Come on. Come on. And you all can go to town way down in New Orleans.
S4: Louisiana salesman will not bring in his jeans. That’s why I’d
S3: like to sell you New Orleans. Come on, come on and do all the things there are to do in New Orleans. Where does that heat come from? That rhythmic beat come from and that red meat come from New Orleans, Louisiana Purchase. I told you what it means.
S4: So won’t you let me sell you New Orleans? Come on.
S3: Come on. And you all can go to town.
S4: Way down in New Orleans. The Louisiana Purchase, I’ll tell you what it means. It means I’d like to sell, you know.
S1: So finally, council counsels kind of boring. It’s actually all the stuff before council. But council is from Latin corn. Kilim Concilio and the Kealy starts out on the steps of Ukraine as Kallet and Kellye meant to shout. And so a council is shouting together a kallet. I don’t know if they said it that way, but can’t you just tell, you know, you’re on the steps of Ukraine and so Goncalo, it’s a shouting together. And that Kallet also became not just the school in council, but its claim, its clammer, it’s clear, its declare, its nomen Plager. It’s all of these clarion call things. But in council, just so it got locked in there, it’s like you catch a praying mantis and you put it in a little fish tank and you keep it there and you feed it worms and it’s stuck in there. So Kallet is stuck is just so. And that praying mantis lives for two months and you think that you’re feeding it the worms. But then gradually the praying mantis loses energy in the worms. Eat the mantis. That actually happened to me last summer. This if we’re going to have some going out. Music is from a show of nineteen thirty nine called very warm. For me it was an utter disaster. But as with many shows like that, it had great music and the original music has been recorded to an extent. Nobody cares about this but me, but I have always enjoyed it. This is just a random boogie woogie. No, that they did. And the orchestration is fantastic. It’s called Harlem Boogie Woogie, and a bunch of people just came out and danced in front of the curtain while they changed the set. That’s the way folks were at this time. Nobody needs to see a production of very warm for me today. But this is a wonderful four minutes of music. It’s boogie woogie with a big giant orchestra orchestrated by the same man who created the sound of shows like Oklahoma, South Pacific and the King. And I, Robert Russell Bennett, Robert Russell Bennett could boogie. Listen to this. In any case, 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. And you know, folks, I can’t help saying that my little book, Nine Nasty Words, has hit the New York Times best seller list. And so given that it did that force, now you really have to go hire nine nasty words. It’s a tonic after a long year, as they say, or at least that’s what I’ve been saying. Mike Volo is, as always, the editor, and I am John McWhorter. For Slate plus this week, some fun French stuff, the ill de France in the hearts, OK, and kind of in the back of your mind, you’re always kind of thinking, what’s the island? Why do they call it that? And you might think, well, there’s a river in between these provinces and the river makes it so that in the middle it’s an island or something like that. It all seems a little little forced, really. There isn’t really an island that would make sense as the name of that whole region. Yielder France. You know what that is? That is that the language of that area before Latin came in and became French was Frankish, as in where we get the name for France. Frankish was a Germanic language. And so it’s that kind of language. And here we were in the Frankish region, France and in Frankish little France, as in a little piece of France as in that province was led. Lefranc, Lyd Lefranc. OK, so you’ve got these Franck’s. Well, you’re talking about little Franka and then you have these Latin speakers and they’re gradually becoming people who speak French as opposed to what was Latin at first. Well, I don’t know, Frankish, Frankish, you know, got the stuff kicked out of it fast. It left a lot of words in French, but people didn’t know it. So Lefranc people started thinking of it as French. Lillard Frank Little disheartens little difference. Oh it must be the island of France. Lindela Franka just meant little France in Frankish. Ilda France is a bastardization of that. Another example Joan of Arc. Where’s Arek Snowtown Ark. Or if there is because I haven’t checked every single town in France. She wasn’t from it. She was from Domremy. So why is it Joan of Arc. That’s not what what her name was. Her name was Joan Dark Jan actually John Dark D.R.C. Her father’s name was dark. And so then as time goes by, people started thinking, well, it must be Joan of Arc. And so there’s some mythical place arc that this strong person came from. And so Joan of Arc, there’s no Arc or name is Joan of Arc. And somehow you don’t care as much about her, if that’s her name, Joan of Arc, or maybe you do these days, because we have the Goffe thing. You mentioned she talked like this, but before long, Joan Da, who cares about some dark Joan Joan of Arc sounds exotic and that’s where that is. And I’ve said this on the show before, but I’m just going to use it again because, you know, a little bit of repetition never hurts. And, you know, not everybody has heard all one hundred and thirty episodes, Disney. That’s Deep Sea of Essien. Yi Yi was a region of France. It was originally one of these Frankish words. And so you were you weren’t ever from the ark. There’s no ark, but there wasn’t anything yet. And so something like Walt Disney. And so Disney, Disney, Disney, Disney is from from East and is originally a frankest word. So see how language is just a kaleidoscope. It’s what makes you want to eat it. So that is your slate plus for this week.