Friday, February 5, 2016

Podcasts for Language Lovers: Lexicon Valley

Since podcasts seem to have taken over the world of modern media, it seemed fitting that we take some time to look at great podcasts for language lovers. Today we're going to focus on our favorite language-related podcast: Slate's "Lexicon Valley".

First, in case you've somehow managed to avoid learning what a podcast is over the past few years, here's how Oxford Dictionaries defines the term: "a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new instalments of which can be received by subscribers automatically." In terms of etymology, the word is a portmanteau of iPod and broadcast, further showcasing Apple's dominance (at least linguistically) when it comes to portable media players.

Death Valley National Park in California
Getting back to our original topic, if you love all things related to linguistics and language, then we highly recommend checking out an episode or two (or all 78 and counting!) of Slate's "Lexicon Valley", which is hosted by Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo. According to its iTunes description, "Lexicon Valley is a podcast about language, from pet peeves, syntax, and etymology to neurolinguistics and the death of languages."

There are several things we love about "Lexicon Valley". First of all, most episodes are 20 to 30 minutes in length, which makes them perfect to listen to on a daily commute or when your brain needs a quick break from work. We also love the fact that the hosts are able to keep the discussion lively and interesting, and that they focus on a wide variety of topics. You'd think that over 27 minutes of audio discussing the phrase "between you and I" would be incredibly boring, but they've somehow managed to make it fascinating and fun.

We haven't had the chance to listen to many of the most recent episodes, so it is possible that the quality has declined, but we definitely enjoyed listening to their earliest episodes, which covered such diverse topics as the history of "ain't", grammatical gender, and language extinction. In any case, we'd love to know what you think of the podcast, which you can listen to on their website or download from any number of other podcast sources.

Do you know of any other podcasts dedicated to language or linguistics that we should listen to? Let us know in the comments below!