For many months now, I’ve been intending to write an epic review of one of my favorite podcasts: Lexicon Valley presented by Slate. Well, this weekend I invoked the muses – otherwise known as Lexicon Valley hosts Mike Vuolo and Bob Garfield – and got to work. I spent the weekend re-listening to all 26 of the available podcasts. It was great. I took diligent notes in both blue and red pen. This review was going to be thorough and fantastic. I had a ton of material. Mike and Bob have spoken with many expert linguists such as Arnold Zwicky, Anne Curzan, and Geoffrey Nunberg. They’ve discussed great books like Found in Translation, Woe is I, and The Story of Ain’t. And they’ve covered a variety of interesting language-related topics such as grammatical gender, the discourse marker so, and r-dropping – to name just a few.
I ran into a problem though. After taking twelve pages of notes, I realized my plan had been foiled by exactly what makes Lexicon Valley exceptional among podcasts. This is namely the hosts’ ability to pack so many interesting, funny, and remarkable facts and perspectives on language into a mere 28 minutes of podcast.
So as not to let my re-listening marathon go to waste, I’ll go ahead and share a few of my favorite episodes. The shows on preposition stranding and the phrase between you and I/me were particularly enjoyable in my opinion. However, my interests are clearly flavored by my work assisting with the compilation of this project’s database of usage guides and usage problems. Not to worry though – in my opinion there is something for everyone in the Lexicon Valley oeuvre.
Meanwhile, it’d be great to hear from readers of this blog about other quality language-related programs. Is the preferred medium radio, television, podcast, or perhaps something completely different? Tips on programs available in other languages and countries are also very welcome. Perhaps we can compile a list: I love lists!
So, in lieu of the more extensive Ode to Lexicon Valley which I had planned, I will simply extend my heartfelt appreciation for the content of these podcasts and the program’s knowledgeable, well-prepared, and witty hosts. For those who appreciate learning about language and how it works in its different social and cultural contexts, Lexicon Valley is a real treat. Enjoy!