Posted in: 2023

175. A Few More Words: Empath

I talk about this relatively new word in English, which actually has its origin in science fiction. The word follows a common pattern for words that start with a very specific meaning in a field or discipline, and then once they're in use in standard English they develop their own meanings and history. I wrap up by comparing it to the word schizophrenic, which has behaved similarly, but with a bit of a twist.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR)

Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction

Dictionary of Psychopathology, by Henry Kellerman

Posted in: 2023

164. How Was Your Weekend, Fin de Semaine, or Fine Settimana?

I discuss the recent announcement by the Italian government that it is introducing legislation to levy fines on those who use foreign terms, when there is an Italian equivalent, in official documents. I also talk about similar prescriptive tendencies by the governments of France and of the province of Quebec in Canada.


"Italian government seeks to penalize the use of English words" (CTV News)

Grande dizionario della lingua italiana

Dictionnaire de l’Académie française

Vitrine linguistique (Office québécois de la langue française)

Oxford English Dictionary

Posted in: 2022

93. Dictionaries, and Changes and Development in the English Language

My guest today is Dr. Valerie Fridland, who is a professor of linguistics in the English department at the University of Nevada, Reno. She’s also more publically engaged than many linguists, with a regular column in Psychology Today, and an upcoming book called—you heard it here first!—Like, Literally, Dude, which is about modern English, its beauties and controversies, and how it changes and adapts. This is the first part of my conversation with her: you can hear the rest on Friday in episode 94.