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Feb 23, 2012

Favourite new podcast: Lexicon Valley

Ah, politics. Before the knives, the talk. Famously, Orwell: 'Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidit

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Ah, politics. Before the knives, the talk. Famously, Orwell: ‘Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.’

Apart from fully sic, the language antidote is at Lexicon Valley, at Slate. Three episodes in and I’m an enthusiastic addict of the half hour discussions between Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo.

So far they’ve discussed ending with prepositions, the moral and casual usage of “the other f-word” — faggot — and its surprising derivation (it’s those dammed wimmenfolk), and whether one should say ‘between you and me’ or ‘between you and I’.

Usually I listen to podcasts while working away, but this is not an ideal program for that — it keeps wrenching me back to replay segments — it rather demands your attention; and seduces you with its richness, which is peppered with pop culture and drily humourous asides.

Episode 1 is about “preposition stranding”. (The iconic modern example is illustrated neatly by Churchill: An editor had clumsily rearranged one of Churchill’s sentences to avoid ending it in a preposition, and the Prime Minister, very proud of his style, scribbled this note in reply: “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.”) The Lexiconists date it back to John Dryden, yeah, the 17th century Dryden; who decried both Samuel Johnson and Shakespeare: thise sloppy preposition strandists. And amazingly, the hosts manage to work in Lindsay Lohan. Super adept.

In episode two, they conduct their standard opening vox pop:  ‘Do you, under any circumstances, use the word “faggot”?’ What do you reckon?

Drop out and tune in. Between you and me, it’s a secret treasure.

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