BONUS: On the Difference Between Males and Females

Sometimes perceived linguistic analogies are actually linguistic misconceptions.


* Theme Music *

JOHN MCWHORTER: You know that word “disheveled”? You know how I'll bet every second one of you thought it was “dissheveled” because that's what I once thought it was? And frankly, I think it is — I think that so many people think that, that we might as well just admit it and allow it: dis-sheveled. Actually, if you take a quick look, it's disheveled. That's what the word is. So I used to say, “Well, languages aren't perfect, and so you can say somebody is disheveled, but you never say that they're sheveled.” That doesn't work because it's disheveled, not dissheveled. Why did I think that? Why do so many of us think that? Because there are so many words with “dis” that you see the way that word is spelled, and it might not occur to you that there aren't two S's; that it isn't dissheveled, that it’s actually disheveled. What a weird little word that is.

This episode is for paid subscribers