Double Dutch

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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 special guest is Dr. Cindy Blanco, senior learning scientist for the online language learning tool Duolingo.

S2: And we’re also going to quiz a listener on some wordplay involving English and Dutch.

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S1: Wow. Ben is Dutch, one of the languages you’ve studied.

S2: It’s break in bits in airlines. That means I speak a little Dutch. Very impressive. Well, I just actually learned that on Duolingo. I have to admit I’ve been brushing up on my Dutch lately. Back in grad school, I studied some Dutch for reading because my research was on Indonesia, and I wanted to read up on the colonial history of the Dutch East Indies. And I actually spent a summer in the Netherlands, but I never really got anywhere with conversational Dutch. Dutch people are so good at English in general, they just switch over as soon as they hear an English speaker struggling with Dutch, and I struggled a lot.

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S1: Yeah, and Dutch is pretty close to English on the West Germanic branch of the Indo-European family tree. So when it’s written, it can look fairly similar, which probably helped you a little bit. Yeah, exactly, but not necessarily talking because the Dutch pronunciation can be quite a challenge for English speakers, especially in the continent.

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S2: Oh gosh, yeah, those Vila fricatives, they get me every time. So that’s the sound that’s pronounced with your tongue against your soft palate. And you know, you get that in other languages too. You know, German, Scottish, Gaelic, Arabic, Hebrew. So in Dutch, the letters c h are typically pronounced with the voiceless Velar fricative the sound. But G or h sometimes can represent the voiced version of that consonant, which is more like a ha ha. Unless, of course, the G is at the end of the word and it loses the voicing, it’s very confusing. But if you do that Dutch course on Duolingo like I’ve been doing lately, you pretty quickly encountered these sounds in common greetings like Hudaydah. That’s good day and hoodman. Good morning.

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S1: Ah, so it’s kind of like Guttentag, except for with fancier consonants. Exactly, yeah. And that comes up in the name of the painter that Americans would call Van Gogh, and the British speakers apparently call Van Gough. But if you want to say it the Dutch way, it’s van call funk.

S2: Oh yeah, some did something like that. Yeah, no, we just say Van Gogh, we keep it easy. But you know, trying to master these Dutch names can be a real challenge. And in fact, our friends at Hang Up and Listen Slate’s Sports podcast recently tackled the name of a Dutch player in the US Open tennis tournaments, and his name is Bottke Van de Son scope. That’s my best approximation of it. That’s got a fun consonant cluster in there. I mean, his last name is spelled Xian DCH U LP. So reporters at the U.S. Open were struggling with that one. As you can imagine, even after Bostic explained how to pronounce his name at a press conference at both from the song. So it’s pretty tough, huh? Yeah, that’s right. I think every character the Quartet

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S3: brothers launched me into this stuff.

S2: What did the reporter say? I like? I was like, Oh yeah, yeah, I think I have it. And then he says, like, then the vanish look for there’s something that’s like, not it at all. But it might have helped the reporter to know that part of his name Zahn’s hope that corresponds in English to sand scallop. So he’s literally Bostick of the sand scallop. If you want to translate his name,

S1: somehow, that sounds weirder in English and Dutch, and the Dutch names are one thing, but other languages names present different kinds of challenges, like Chinese names have some specific challenges for English speakers. This has come up with the new Marvel movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and it doesn’t shy away from that challenge. They actually play it for laughs. So, as you can hear in a trailer for the movie, the title character Shang-Chi, who is played by Symeou Liu, goes over the pronunciation of his superhero name with his friend Katie, who’s played by Awkwafina. Katie, like Awkwafina herself, calls herself ABC or American-Born Chinese. My name?

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S4: Some Cianci, Cianci, Shun Shun Shun essay Changi. That’s what I

S2: said. Yeah, I mean, I haven’t seen the movie yet. I really want to. But I guess Awkwafina is character only knows her friend as Shaun. Up to that point, and then he reveals his superhero identity as Shang-Chi. And so she has to master this new name. And it’s just funny the way that they handle that. But you know, a language like Mandarin Chinese can be especially tricky for English speakers because it is a tonal language. So that means the tones or pitch contours of syllables can actually distinguish different words with different meanings.

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S1: Yeah, and this is actually related to my own research where I study intonation. So English is an intonation language where the way the voice moves up and down has meaning across the phrase itself. But in a tonal language like Mandarin, the way the voice moves up and down in pitch happens on words, and that can create meaning distinctions. So that’s really a difference for English speakers, and it can be a stumbling block for language learners who haven’t seen tonal languages before. But even when a foreign language is type a logically different, we can get a handle on those differences. If we practice, yeah,

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S2: and Duolingo is one way you can get that practice. So that’s a perfect segue into our next segment. When we come back, we’re going to talk to our guest, Dr Cindy Blanco, all about the linguistic nitty gritty of Duolingo.

S1: Welcome back to spectacular vernacular. Our guest today is Dr. Cindy Blanco, senior learning specialist at the wildly popular language app Duolingo. Cindy works on the teams that make the adorable little owl threatened us if we don’t practice our languages. So I’m really excited to ask her all about it. Welcome to the show, Cindy.

S4: Hi, thanks so much for having me.

S2: It’s really great to have you with us, Cindy and just to start us off. Maybe you could give us an idea of what it’s like to be a Duolingo linguist, which just seems like a very cool title to have. I mean, what kind of stuff do you work on in your average day at Duolingo?

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S4: Yeah, it is a pretty cool job to have, and because of the kind of work we do, I get to to work on all kinds of language products. And so sometimes that’s thinking about new ways to teach. Sometimes it’s thinking about how to improve what we’re already doing. There are lots of like brainstorms and deep dives about very like nit picky language linguistic topics and thinking a lot about research. So I still do a lot of like reading and writing about about language research that happens and figure out how we can get our learners to to benefit from all of that.

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S1: I understand that Duolingo has recently added a bunch of new languages. Can you tell us about some of those and what it was like to add them to the app? Yeah.

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S4: So we we currently teach 40 different languages and 37 of those are available for English speakers. And so some of our newest ones are Finnish course, which was released in 2020 and in 2021. Earlier this year, we released the Yiddish course and we just a few weeks ago kind of told the world what what our plans are for for next year. And so next year you can look for courses on Haitian Creole, Zulu koza, and I’m forgetting at least one, but you can check out our duo con recording for for all of those big announcements.

S1: That’s super awesome. I’m really excited about the Haitian Creole, and

S4: yeah, I am too. These are languages I want to study too, so I’m really excited.

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S2: I’m really interested in the ones that you’ve been adding lately that don’t necessarily use the Latin alphabet. I feel like maybe early on with Duolingo, you might have stayed away from certain languages that pose challenges because they use different scripts, different writing systems. So could you tell us a little bit about working through those challenges, what you had to do to come up with language courses for, say, Arabic or Korean? Or, you know, these ones that don’t involve the Latin alphabet? Yeah.

S4: So there’s actually kind of two layers of challenges when we’re teaching a new language that has a different writing system, and one of them is like purely on the tech side to make sure that our interface works with the fonts and the scripts, and therefore that it also works on Android and iPhone and all the different versions of devices that people use. So that’s kind of like a tech side challenge. But of course, on the learning side, it’s also a real challenge to to learn not just, you know, the sentences and verbs and nouns and all the things they have to learn with the language, but to figure out this new writing system. And so we’ve introduced some new features really targeting helping learners learn to read in their new language. And so you can find these right now in a number of our courses, we we piloted these new tools in our Japanese course. And so there are new charts and new exercises that involve tracing or identifying, you know what sounds correspond to the different letters or characters, depending on the language. And so there’s there’s a lot of different challenges. You know, there’s the challenges presented by languages like Greek or Russian or Ukrainian that are still using an alphabet, you know, pretty similar to how we think of sounds and letters in English, but they all just look very different. And so the ways that we’re going to teach those writing systems are really different from from a language like Arabic, where now the script is going from right to left and the the letters or characters can look really different depending on where they occur in the word. And so those are all things that that learners need to figure out in order to read successfully and write in the language as well.

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S2: Yeah, I mean, I studied some Arabic in grad school and so much

S1: maybe to Ben.

S2: Yeah, yeah. So I mean, like in that first year, you spend so much time just like trying to master the writing system just independent of being able to figure out the grammar and the lexicon and so forth. How do you like ease people into that? Like, do you start with just trying to hear what it sounds like and then gradually get them to recognize the characters? Or like, how do you do that balancing act?

S4: Yeah, it’s a balancing act that I don’t think we’ve landed on a solution that we love. Yet this is a work in progress. And so if you think about how Duolingo teaches languages, there’s kind of like the main part of the course where there’s we’re doing a lot of teaching of words and sentences. And right now, the these new reading and writing features kind of exist. In parallel to that, but we’re working on different ways to to integrate the two, to make sure that we’re giving you a really good foundation so that you’re not overwhelmed when you’re seeing words. And so there’s there’s a balance between making sure learners feel really prepared to see words and sentences. But for lots of our learners, it can be a little dull to maybe only be allowed to see letters or characters for a long time that you want to start getting into things that feel like like language that you can start using. And so we’re testing new ways to to integrate the two to really find what works best for most learners. To feel like you’re making good progress, learning useful things and giving you that foundation in reading.

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S1: That’s really cool. Yeah, I actually started college as an Arabic major, a very popular major in the mid 2000s. Yeah. So I had a year and a half and I remember being very intimidated by the writing system. And in fact, that was like the least of my problems. Then I got to like the verb, the verb. Oh, no, the first. But I think it’s kind of nice that you are making this more accessible because the writing system really isn’t, at least for Arabic. I didn’t find it to be the hardest thing. It’s just intimidating at first, right?

S4: Yeah. You know, for a lot of these language, you not for all of them, you know, Chinese is kind of a different case. We’re still working on adapting these features for for Chinese, but for a lot of the ones that we’re talking about for Russian or Arabic, it’s it’s pretty predictable in the sense that like you can learn that there are rules and patterns and in a pretty finite set of of characters or letters to learn. And so it is it is possible this is something that learners can do and do well and feel really good about doing. And I will also add that my own story like this, that I had the same experience. But for Russia and I studied Russian in college, and before that first semester, Russian class, I was so afraid of that alphabet that I memorized it on my own before the semester even started. And then, of course, you show up in class and like the alphabets, not the hard part. The alphabet you can do is the consonant clusters. It’s the, you know, aspect. All of that’s hard.

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S2: Now you mentioned you mentioned Mandarin Chinese and my son is actually studying that in high school right now. And you know, when you learn it in high school, they try to introduce the the the characters to you at the same time, they’re giving you the romanization, write the opinion system. So does Duolingo try to try to do that as well where you get, you know, romanization so that you can actually, you know, read it in the Latin alphabet in addition to those characters?

S4: Yes. And so this is something that your listeners might have seen us iterate and try different things because if you think about, you know, presenting all of this information on a on a pretty small mobile screen, typically there’s a lot that we want to give you at once. We want to give you the characters, we want to give you the meaning. We want to give you a way to learn about how these characters sound. And we also want to give you the pinning. And so you’ll see different ways that we we try to to integrate those that make sense again without overwhelming learners, but giving them enough to again feel like they’re making progress to start piecing together, writing with meaning with sound. And it’s not easy, especially on, you know, kind of one screen where we don’t have a lot of space and and it’s tricky to kind of balance all of those features for learners who have really different motivations. You know, especially, I think Chinese is a good example where we have lots of learners who really want to build up like a written fluency. They want literacy in the language, too, maybe especially if they want to study or live in China. But for other learners who are maybe interested for more family reasons or really want to to feel conversational in the language, the writing system might not be what’s drawing them to the language or what is necessarily their interest. And so whenever we’re balancing all of these features, we want to do what is kind of best for most learners. Again, without overwhelming them.

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S1: Yeah. Very cool. And you mentioned people have sort of different motivations that bring them to language learning. And I’ve seen a lot online about how apps like Duolingo are being used specifically for language, revitalization and activism, which is very cool. What can you tell us about how you work with speakers of marginalized and endangered languages?

S4: Yeah. So we have a history of this four years of working really closely with the communities themselves to develop language courses. And there’s kind of been a combination of ways we’ve done this. So sometimes the groups might come to us like we worked with the Hawaiian Group Kamehameha. These are schools in Hawaii that wanted to teach Hawaiian to Hawaiian children in the schools there and say they had already developed a lot of online infrastructure and tools themselves. And so this was a great synergy that this combination of their expertise and interest and tech savvy with our existing tools and. Platform and so so there’s you know, we now offer a Hawaiian course, we also offer a Navajo course, which again we worked with the Navajo Nation and educators there to to build the Navajo course and we there there’s several other language courses that we offer that are underrepresented or maybe just under taught and underrepresented languages or indigenous or endangered. And so these include things like Guarani, which is an indigenous language from South America with people, speakers and a whole bunch of places. I think Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, there’s there’s a lot of Paraguay. Yeah, Paraguay there.

S1: I went specifically to Paraguay because I was interested in Guarani and the people in Paraguay were like, what? Oh, because because very few people outside are interested in studying it. I didn’t even know there was Guarani. I’m going to have to get on that.

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S4: Yeah, yeah. And Nicole, it’ll it’ll be a good fit for you because the Guarani course is designed for Spanish speakers, so you need to know Spanish in order to learn Guarani. And again, this is thinking really about those communities there who are most likely to be interacting with Guarani speakers. And so what are the we really think about who the course is serving when we’re making decisions about, you know, well, why don’t we have a Guarani from four English speakers and maybe we will one day. But really to the main community we want to serve with that course is the Spanish speaking community.

S2: So for these underrepresented languages, I’m guessing you’re not using some sort of text to speech technology in order to generate the sentences that we hear. So you’re working with native speakers of all of these languages to build up the sentences that are used in the courses?

S4: Yeah, this is a great point, Ben that you know, traditionally for for most of our courses, we had been using text to speech services from like Amazon. But these these kind of we’re teaching many more languages than a lot of these companies are prepared to help us move from text to to speech. And so for languages like Navajo, like Yiddish, like Hawaiian, where we can’t do this automatic translation, we have our contributors, right? So the the native speakers, the the teachers from these communities themselves doing those recordings. And so earlier this year, we released the Yiddish course, which is really interesting linguistically for a lot of reasons, but including the group had to decide which dialect and which accent to use to teach in the course. And so the recordings that you’ll hear in the course are from the actual course creators themselves, the Yiddish speakers who designed the curriculum.

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S1: And I think we have some examples from that Yiddish course that you mentioned. Let’s hear a couple just to get an idea of what it sounds like from Kempsey. So that’s where do you come from and why is mom bark? And that’s where is my bobcats bobcat? Does that get translate? It gets translated the same in English. So those Cindy what we’re hearing there, the Yiddish speakers that assisted in the development of the course, right?

S4: Yeah, not just assisted. They wrote the curriculum. So these were a really talented group of Yiddish English bilinguals who were really they. They have like a deep knowledge of both like the culture and the language and how to teach Yiddish. You know, so of course, like knowing a language doesn’t always mean that you know how to teach it. But this was a really talented group of teachers from the Yiddish, lots of Yiddish communities who recorded

S2: these so Cindy. Back on the very first episode of Spectacular Vernacular, we talked to John Linnell of They Might Be Giants. And he talks about how he had been spending the pandemic learning Latin on Duolingo, and that led to him making a whole EP full of songs written in Latin. So could you tell us? I mean, since the, you know, especially the past year are two trends that have emerged in the use of Duolingo and all these different languages. Yeah.

S4: So there are so many interesting things that happen. You know, we all found ourselves, you know, in this awful situation at the start of the pandemic, and we looked for all kinds of ways to support feeling connected and building community. And maybe, you know, doing things we’ve been meaning to do for a long time. And so I think this is what we see in in our language data at Duolingo is that there was this huge influx of brand new learners to the platform in March and April 2020 that in those first weeks, 30 million new learners joined Duolingo. And I loved seeing the distribution of the languages that people wanted to study. And so of course, there were lots and lots of people who were suddenly learning from home or their in-person language classes had been forced to turn into online classes overnight. And so there are lots of French and Spanish learners in the U.S., for example, that were using Duolingo to supplement or help with their language study. But for even more people, they took advantage of this time to study languages that really. Personally meaningful to them, and so we can see, for example, in Ireland in the last year, Irish has been the most popular language to study in Ireland, surpassing Spanish for the very first time there. And so the way I think of that kind of movement is that, you know, we were really seeking ways to to be engaged and be a part of our community. And for people in a place like Ireland, is this meant that, you know, there’s this thing that’s been happening in my community that I’ve been hearing about, and maybe this is a chance to connect with this part of myself with this part of my culture. And we see that kind of all, all over the world that there was a really big increase in interest in East Asian languages, especially Japanese and Korean all over the world. And so I think of this as people wanting to connect with their interests and their cultures in a way that they realized there was finally a way for them to do this.

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S1: That’s really cool. Yeah, I definitely spent a lot of time with Duolingo myself early in the pandemic. I’m on a, I don’t know, almost 500 day streak now, and I just can’t let it go. So and there’s probably a lot of people that started around the same time as me. And I have to ask since I spent so much time with, you know, the owl, the app has a bunch of new characters, and I just found out that now they have their own voices, at least for some of the courses. So maybe we should just let them introduce themselves. We each have our own personalities

S2: and we have backstories and relationships

S1: which help to add depth to our characters. It makes language learning more fun and provides lots

S4: of variety for learners to hear

S2: not just one or two, but many different people’s voices.

S1: Having our own voices brings language learning to life.

S2: Get to know our stories

S3: as you learn to read, write, listen and speak with Duolingo.

S1: Can you tell us how you brought them to life and how they help with language learning?

S4: Yeah. So as I mentioned earlier that we had traditionally used text to speech to us for our courses. And so for most courses where it was available, we had a male voice and a female voice. But as we developed as a company and and as our characters developed, we we landed on these nine personalities that you’re starting to see in more places in the app. So in lessons, we’re writing stories for them. And so having characters at all, I think, makes the experience more fun. I think it gives it kind of more personality and people really feel drawn to one character or another. Or you see these, you know, there’s lots of fan art that’s happening, especially around Lily, who is our kind of emo teenage character. And so on the voice side of things, we we wanted to develop unique voices for them as well. And this was a real challenge because we we the scale of the voice creation that we’re doing is kind of unparalleled in the sense that, you know, we have tens and tens of thousands of sentences in any course, much less like multiplied across the different languages that we teach. And so we needed to train these machine learning algorithms on real human voices. We had voice actors for each of the characters in each of the languages. They all recorded, I think it was 6000 sentences. And then the algorithm learns this new novel voice to scale that up for an entire course. And so, you know, the tech side was really interesting, too, that it was also really interesting linguistically to think about, you know, this Lily character, for example, she’s kind of, you know, she is full of sass. And how do you make that come through in different languages? You know, each of these characters has a really unique personality. And so how do you make that? You know, how does sarcasm sound in different languages? How does being aloof sound in different languages? And so it was this great collaboration between the linguists here, the speech scientists, speech engineers to to develop unique voices across languages for all of these different personalities.

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S2: Well, Cindy, thank you so much for joining us today. Is there anything else you want to share with our listeners?

S4: Yeah, I would say definitely. You know, check out language learning, think about what language might motivate you, and you can read more about our course development at blog Typekit Duolingo dot com.

S1: Thanks so much. And after the break, it’s time for some wordplay. Welcome back, as usual, we’re going to finish off the episode by playing with language.

S2: That’s right, and we’ve got another listener who is agreed to be our victim for a little wordplay quiz. And joining us this time is Emerald Taylor. Welcome, Emerald.

S3: Thank you very much, Ben. Thank you for having me.

S2: I understand you’re joining us from the Netherlands.

S3: That’s correct, yes.

S2: Where in the Netherlands are you based?

S3: I’m in Denmark, which the English name for that is, of course, The Hague. So I’m in the province of Out Holland on the Atlantic coast, so I’m on the West Coast. Great.

S2: I actually spent a little time in the Netherlands, and I remember that Denmark is short for I’m going to butcher it, but something like Robin.

S3: Yes, I think they get that right. That’s perfect pronunciation.

S1: Yeah. And I hear you have your own podcast in the works called Words in a Pod. What’s that going to be about?

S3: I’ve always been interested in linguistics. I’ve never had any formal training, but it’s something that I’ve always enjoyed. And now that I have a little time, I’m going to be doing this podcast about etymology was was my main idea, but I think I will branch out. I want to talk about language use. Each episode is going to be about one word, or possibly a few words that are related to each other.

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S1: I’m excited to check it out.

S2: Yeah, it sounds great. And Emerald, since you’re based in the Netherlands and you are clearly a fan of word origins, we’ve designed a quiz just for you. It’s called Double Dutch. So we’re going to get here. We’re going to give you a clue for a two-word phrase that is alliterative. The words start with the same sounds like double Dutch. Now, the phrases might be a little silly, but you should know that each word in the phrase has its origins in Dutch. And you know, as I’m sure you know, English has a lot of words with Dutch roots thanks to immigration and commerce and even a few wars. Here’s an example. What is a two-word phrase that could mean an ocean trip serving sweet baked treats?

S3: And oh, there were so many sweet treats in the Netherlands? That’s quite difficult.

S2: Oh no. Just like a common a common one in English speaking countries that you might get from, say, Nabisco, that sort of thing.

S1: We have a monster who’s a big fan.

S3: Yeah, I’m really not a fan of sweet food, so it’s not something that’s coming to me straight away.

S2: Well, both words are six letters long, if that helps you. If you can think of a word for just a sweet baked treat, maybe from Oreo or Nabisco, I’m not sure about British brands. And then the ocean trip as well is also a six-letter word. Any thoughts on that?

S3: OK, I’m thinking Cookie Cookie is right. But yeah, six-letter word with a Ooh, that’s a cruise. Yes. Cruise cookie.

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S2: Cookie. Cruise cookie, as you probably know, comes from cookie a little cake and &8. And cruise also comes from a Dutch fruit. I’m sure I’ll but butcher this pronunciation Croatian meaning to sail to and fro.

S3: Yeah, crowson.

S2: There you go. OK, so now that you have the hang of it, we can try some, try some more here.

S1: Yeah, and you’re going to have to help us with our Dutch throughout anything.

S3: I don’t speak fluent Dutch, but I can certainly help you the pronunciation.

S1: So here’s the next one. What would you call someone who secretly imports powdered tobacco? And oh, the first word is five letters long, and the second one is eight letters.

S3: Try to think of powdered tobacco I’m talking about. I know the Dutch word for tobacco is to bark, but I’m not really sure I’m thinking it’s potentially snuff. But that isn’t enough. Let us

S1: know. It’s five letters, so you’re on the Oh,

S3: sorry, sorry, I thought you said the first one. I thought you said six. Sorry.

S1: Yeah, the second one is eight.

S3: So, OK, so you

S2: have the first one?

S3: OK, snuff. So do you secretly import something?

S2: That’s a tricky one, transported illegally into the country,

S3: is it smuggler?

S1: Yes. So the answer is snuff smuggler snuff is from snuffing meaning to sniff, and smuggler is from smuggling, meaning to transport illegally.

S3: I did not know that with smuggling.

S2: OK, here comes your next clue. What would you call a four wheeled vehicle for marine mammals with tusks and.

S3: Now. OK, so officials at the marine mammal with tusks, it’s got to be a walrus.

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S2: But if that’s the first one,

S3: but a four wheeled vehicle,

S2: five letter word

S3: go with a wagon because I know that comes from Dutch.

S2: That is absolutely correct. The answer we were looking for is a walrus wagon. So yes, walrus is apparently from a Dutch word values which may combine well, meaning whale and loss, meaning horse. But I think there’s some dispute over the etymology of that one. Maybe you can talk about that on your show. And as you said, wagon is from a Dutch word van for a wheeled vehicle or a carriage. Very good.

S1: So here’s the last one for you, Emerald. What would you call an expensive boat owned by a new Englander?

S3: Now, New England, I know nothing about this, I’m going I’m sort of thinking, maybe young people, I might be in the wrong part of the country. You’re right, you’re right, OK, I’m going to go with a yacht. Young Chaoyang yacht?

S1: Yes. So like Yankee Yacht, Yankee may come from the name yanga, which you could translate as Johnny or Little John and DHS.

S3: I’ve definitely heard that’s a very common etymology. Whether it’s correct, I don’t know.

S1: Yeah. There’s another theory, though, that it comes from Yann Tace, meaning John Cheese.

S3: Would that be would be young Cass? OK.

S1: Yeah, yeah. Oh yeah, OK.

S2: Well, yeah, I think we looked into that a little bit and that Keith’s, which also could be short for Cornelius, is sometimes glossed as cheese as well. Perhaps back in the 18th century that could be understood as cheese rather than the modern Dutch term.

S3: Not sure about it? OK, that’s yeah. That’s interesting that in that in that context, it would probably be pronounced case, but I don’t know. That was a Dutch word. But as I said, I’m not a fluent speaker. I have enough to get by. I haven’t lived in this country for a long time yet.

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S1: This is the most Dutch that I’ve ever experienced, that

S3: I do get mistaken often for a native because I got the the tourists coming from, particularly from Germany and Belgium. I ask for directions. I’m not quite sure why. I’m not very good at giving them.

S1: So then the other part here, yeah, it comes from the old Dutch word that yacht.

S3: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

S1: Yeah, yeah. For a hunting

S2: ship, emeralds, you did a fantastic job with that. Thank you so much for playing. And now we have a final challenge for all the listeners. Emerald Don’t worry, you don’t have to answer this one. OK, for all the listeners out there, what baseball Hall of Fame pitcher best fits the double Dutch theme that we’ve been using? So if you think you have it, send your answers to us at Spectacular at Slate.com with Quiz in the subject line of your email and from the correct entries will randomly selected winner who will get a Slate Plus membership for one year or, if you’re already a Slate Plus member, will give you a one year extension on your subscription, and we may bring you on the show to face a new wordplay challenge. So once again, we’re looking for the Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher who best fits the double Dutch theme. Please send your answer to spooktacular at Slate.com with Quiz in the subject line by Midnight Eastern Time on September 22nd, and we’re very pleased to announce the winner of the contest from our August 31st episode. Julian Marks of Sherman Oaks, California, figured out that you can use the letters in beating the eating to form the name Annette Bening. Congratulations, Julian.

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S1: Thanks for joining us, Emerald. That’s it for this week. We hope you’ve enjoyed the show if you have. Remember to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, then you’ll never miss an episode. 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 Slow Burn. It’s only $1 for the first month. To learn more, go to Slate.com. Slash Spectacular Plus.

S2: And thank you to Dr. Cindy Blanco for being our guest this week. Spectacular vernacular is produced by Jasmine Ellis June Thomas is senior managing producer and Gabriel Roth is editorial director for Slate Podcasts.

S1: We’ll be back in two weeks with more spectacular vernacular. Thanks for listening.