Q&A

You asked and we answered. Many of you have questions for our resident language expert and so — for paid subscribers only — please enjoy our biweekly Q&A with Columbia University linguist and Lexicon Valley host John McWhorter. Please ask questions in the comments to help make we keep him well-stocked with wonderful queries, from grammar to etymology to really anything at all that strikes you as even tangentially related to language and how we use it.

Some people use "seen" instead of "saw" in speech. So can we do it in print?
Also, how did the verb "to be" evolve into such an irregular mess?
Let's find out, shall we?
Also, what's up with all the silent P's and G's at the start of English words?
Also, would we modern speakers understand Middle English?
Also, how did we get “won’t” from “will not”? Spoiler: We didn’t.
Also, why do we pronounce a word like “sugar” with an sh sound?
See all