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The Lexicon of Dread podcast kicks off with a chilling retelling of H.P Lovecraft's masterpiece 'At The Mountains of Madness'. Told from the perspective of a survivor of a failed Antarctic expedition, this novella is a cautionary tale about digging too deeply in Earth's remotest corners. What starts off as a routine fossil hunt quickly transforms into a mind-bending nightmare, as two men come face to face with Earth's most devastating secret...and the evil that calls it home.
 
Join us as we talk to the Directors and Assistant Directors before the release of their editions. Find out why they chose the theme and what articles to look out for! Lexicon is an online medical magazine which releases editions on a quarterly basis. Go to www.lexiconin.com for more information and to read our editions and blogs.
 
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On Jan. 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered — to an audience seated both outside at the U.S. Capitol and at home in front of their televisions — his inaugural address. Millions were stirred that afternoon by the rousing line: And so, my fellow Americans — ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. Ever…
 
Lexicon of Dread returns with a rendition of “The Voice in the Night” by William Hope Hodgson. In the middle of a fog-shrouded night, somewhere in the Pacific, an isolated fishing schooner is visited by a strange entity. With a coarse, inhuman voice, he pleads with the crew for desperately needed supplies of food. After his request is granted, he t…
 
What does it mean to be woke? Has the word problematic become problematic? Today in the Valley, John McWhorter talks with Banished host Amna Khalid about the fraught vocabulary of modern censorship. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit lexiconvalley.substack.com/subscr…
 
More than half the world’s approximately 7,000 languages will have no speakers left in the coming decades. Some are working feverishly to preserve or maintain them. Others are asking: Why bother? John explains. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit lexiconvalley.substac…
 
Do you know that the past participle of the intransitive verb lie is lain and that its past tense is lay, not to be confused with the present tense of the transitive verb lay? Oh, and do you know that no one really cares if you use them all correctly? John explains. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or g…
 
You might guess that Nigeria and Niger derive their names from the Latin word for “black,” especially since both countries were formerly colonized by Europeans. Guess again. John explains. Bonus segments are normally for paying subscribers only, but we’re making this week’s free for all! To support my work, please consider becoming paying subscribe…
 
President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee has said that her parents picked “Ketanji” from a list of West African names supplied by a relative. But West Africans speak hundreds of languages spread out across many hundreds of miles. Can we get more specific? This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to…
 
As John likes to say, Proto-Indo-European — the original ancestor of many European and Asian languages — began on the steppes of Ukraine. This is his linguistic love letter to a region and a people under siege. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit lexiconvalley.substac…
 
To describe inclement weather in English, we might say that “it” is raining, which seems natural to a native speaker. But does “it” refer to the sky, the outdoors, the god of precipitation? Maybe it’s not so natural after all. In fact, many languages do weather quite differently. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other su…
 
You may have noticed, among widespread coverage of looming Russian aggression, an unfamiliar pronunciation of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. What’s with the name change? And what does it have to do with Joe Rogan’s use of the N-word? John McWhorter explains. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access t…
 
A hot mic caught President Biden using the epithet to describe a Fox News reporter. Where did “son of a b***h” come from, and why are modern speakers increasingly choosing other insults? This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit lexiconvalley.substack.com/subscribe…
 
Actors Sidney Poitier and Max Julien and law professor Lani Guinier — all of whom died this month — have last names that reveal fascinating stories about pronunciation, etymology and language change. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit lexiconvalley.substack.com/subsc…
 
After narrowly escaping the Shoggoth, Dyer and Danforth return to their plane, determined to leave the Antarctic behind forever. The clouds part just long enough to offer a glimpse of those other, distant, supernaturally huge mountains...and the mysterious light they emit. As they fly away into the raging wind, Danforth witnesses something which ca…
 
Gedney has been found...at least, what's left of him. Dyer and Danforth have barely recovered from the shock, when another reveals itself. Life in this unhallowed place exists in the form of a vast colony of blind albino penguins. The final refuge of the Old Ones can't be far away now. But what are those strange shapes lying motionless in the tunne…
 
Self-styled language experts — and let’s face it, that includes all of us — have lamented the decline of English for centuries. From shifting pronunciations to newfangled words to evolving grammar, everyone from Jonathan Swift to John McWhorter has a pet peeve or two. What’s yours? Happy New Year! In the warm and generous spirit of the holidays, we…
 
Dyer and Danforth are not alone in the dark. As they near the tunnel to the abyss, they discover items from Lake's camp. This includes paper on which drawings have been made: drawings that match the style of the Old Ones' carvings exactly. When they finally discover the source of this debris, the final mystery of the murdered Lake expedition is sol…
 
Happy New Year! In the warm and generous spirit of the holidays, we’re making this week’s bonus segment free to all. But there’s more: Until the end of the year, you can get 30% off a subscription to Booksmart Studios. You’ll get extra written content and access to bonus segments like this one. More importantly, you’ll be championing all the work w…
 
The carvings, which are growing more "decadent" and debased, continue to tell the Old Ones' story. Climate change and dwindling resources drove the Old Ones underground. The carvings reveal the presence of a vast subterranean sea beneath the city, where the Old Ones built a refuge. But that's that all: not far away lie mountains that dwarf those th…
 
An alphabet, one of humanity’s greatest innovations, is far from intuitive. Our own English lettering was borrowed from the Romans, of course, but where did they get it from? And where did the concept originate? John has answers. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit le…
 
Based on his and Danforth's observations, Dyer tells the story of the alien civilization, as revealed by the carvings. He tells of the creatures (dubbed the Old Ones) coming to the newly formed earth from deep space, their building of a globe-spanning civilization, their creation of all life on Earth (including the ancestors of humans), and their w…
 
To continue our celebration of the re-release of 10 original Lexicon Valley episodes with Mike Vuolo and Bob Garfield, we’re making today’s bonus content free for everyone. Presenting the fan-favorite “Lexiconundrum” — a portmantastic puzzle for the ages. This week, an homage to Bob’s ancestors. * TRANSCRIPT * MATT SCHWARTZ: Hey, Matt Schwartz here…
 
Beneath the ancient city, Dyer and Danforth discover an elaborate series of carvings, which tell the city's history in pictorial form. These carvings also reveal the identity of those who built the city, and dwelt there. Whatever they were, they were not human. And what does all this have to do with those strange objects Lake found in the cave?…
 
To celebrate the re-release of ten original Lexicon Valley episodes — remastered, ad-free and for paying subscribers only — Mike Vuolo and Bob Garfield return as hosts for this special show about the word “happiness.” Please let us know if you’d like more episodes from the archives, or more Mike and Bob, or both! (As seemingly indefatigable as he i…
 
We’re giving John McWhorter a well-deserved day off. But the show must go on, so we’re bringing back a couple of Lexicon Valley legends for a special reunion episode. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit lexiconvalley.substack.com/subscribe…
 
It wasn't a mirage. The dead city is real. Unthinkably massive, with bizarre, arcane architecture, it has lain hidden from the world for aeons. The city is a relic of a time when the earth was young, and the Antarctic was a tropical paradise. Who could possibly have built something like this? Dyer and Danforth search for answers, exploring the ruin…
 
The late philosopher Paul Grice formulated four brief maxims by which conversations are generally governed. Most humans find it relatively easy to observe them. Machines, on the other hand, not as much. Normally, John’s Lexicon Valley bonus segments are behind the subscriber paywall, but we’re making this week’s bonus segment free for everyone. Wit…
 
Reeling from the gruesome discovery, the shocked rescue team set themselves to the task of locating Gedney, the one member of Lake's crew not found among the butchered bodies. No one can understand why some of the prehistoric creatures were buried in crude snow graves...and why the rest are missing. Dyer and his research assistant, Danforth, decide…
 
Language is tricky. It doesn’t do what you think it should. It’s as messy as almost anything that’s created by natural selection. And that’s what makes it so fun. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit lexiconvalley.substack.com/subscribe…
 
It's the day after the incredible discovery, and all communication with Lake's camp has been lost. Fearing for his colleague's life, Dyer leads a rescue mission to Lake's last known location. When the team sights the gargantuan mountains Lake discovered, they witness an incredible projection from the past: the ragged ghost of a bygone age. And when…
 
Professor Lake, the expedition's resident biologist, becomes increasingly obsessed by the enigmatic fossils. Ultimately, he leads his own party on a sub-expedition to find their origin. Through the radio on his plane, Lake tells Dyer and the others of his sighting of a colossal mountain range; his team's discovery of an ancient cave filled with fos…
 
Scrabble and other similar games have been the subject of an ongoing lexicographic debate in recent years, with some arguing that ethnic slurs have no place in the official dictionary or on the board. Many tournament players, however, decry the banning of words — the game, they say, is merely descriptivist. This is a public episode. If you’d like t…
 
It's been years since Miskatonic University's disastrous expedition to the Antarctic. Professor Dyer, the expedition's leader, has broken his silence at last. Another, much larger, expedition is preparing to disembark... and Dyer is doing everything he can to stop it. Because he knows what cosmic horrors lie in the far south. He tells the story of …
 
Dividing up nouns as “masculine” and “feminine” — like, for example, in Spanish — has not been a part of English for many centuries. And yet our language remains peppered throughout with gender, often overtly in terms like Mrs. and Mr., which evolved from “mistress” and “master.” Sometimes, however, it’s more subtle. John explains. This is a public…
 
English has been calling out for a gender-neutral pronoun for more than a century, with many failed attempts at invented words and portmanteaus. Singular "they" — once the scourge of schoolhouse grammarians — has now emerged to become the pronoun of choice for many outside the so-called gender binary. TRANSCRIPT From Booksmart Studios, this is Lexi…
 
Turns out that some languages are less intelligible through a mask than others, and, believe it or not, it all depends on how often you use certain consonants. It’s called the McGurk effect and it’s the closest that linguistics comes to actual magic. * FULL TRANSCRIPT * From Booksmart Studios, this is Lexicon Valley, a podcast about language. I'm J…
 
Dari and Pashto are the two major, official languages of Afghanistan, and are even siblings in the Iranian subfamily of Indo-European languages. One, says John McWhorter, is “disarmingly approachable” while the other is “deliciously intimidating.” *FULL TRANSCRIPT* WHAT DO PEOPLE SPEAK IN AFGHANISTAN? From Booksmart Studios, this is Lexicon Valley,…
 
There’s a lot of passionate argument about whether “Critical Race Theory” should be taught in schools. But the meaning of CRT differs greatly depending on who you talk to. What did CRT originally mean, and what does it mean now? What are our children actually being taught? And why do some terms tend to become so thorny over time? Click play to find…
 
In the 7-part crime drama, Mare of Easttown, Kate Winslet plays a flannel-clad cop with a thirst for Rolling Rock, an appetite for hoagies and a tendency to pronounce water more like wooder. John McWhorter — who also, it turns out, grew up in Philly — discusses his hometown’s enigmatic accent and Winslet’s courageous attempt at imitating those impo…
 
Welcome to the new Lexicon Valley from Booksmart Studios! On today’s episode: What is a spelling bee, anyway? Why do spelling bees pair particularly well with the English language? And we’ll explore the tempting but complex prospect of spelling reform. Plus: A special subscriber-only bonus segment, to show you what you can get if you become a payin…
 
Lexicon Valley offers a close examination of language, exploring its power to inform and misinform, to elucidate and obfuscate. Hosted by renowned Columbia University linguistics professor John McWhorter, Lexicon Valley will analyze the words and phrases that dominate our discourse and make the headlines. John H. McWhorter is an associate professor…
 
LexiCon #302 – Black Widder A father, daughter and son give their Black Widow review–in both spoiler-free and spoiler varieties (*SPOILERS* begin at 23 minutes) . . . What did you think about Black Widow? Let us know on Twitter. . Remember, get vaccinated when you can, stay home when possible, wash your hands, socially distance, and MASK-UP! . Help…
 
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