Weird Al Yankovic’s new parody “Word Crimes” is chock-full of grammar advice — but is it good advice?

Or is it just a three-minute-long language peeve session? What should we take from the song, and what should best be left alone?

Linguist Daniel Midgley tells you what you need to know on this episode of Talk the Talk.

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Promo with Rhian Todhunter

Show notes

End of the OED — in print, anyway.

Watch Word Crimes by ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic

The lyrics:

Here are 25 questions you can ask yourself about the video.

It all makes John McWhorter want to give up.

Less or fewer?

It was all the preference of a single author.

And really, people say ‘less [items]’ all the time.

Even so, grammar pedants successfully pressured Tesco on this issue

Lots of phrases don’t make sense, but we never seem to complain about them because we’re used to them.

Like ‘head over heels’.

Jefferson used it’s where we would think its.

You see, its has changed.


The Oxford comma has some use.

Although even Oxford doesn’t use it in some cases, so maybe we should call it the ‘serial comma’.

Homophones have converged.

The etymology of ‘lightning’


Let’s do something oxt weekend.

Show tunes

‘Sugar Shack’ by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs
from the album Sugar Shack

‘I Did Crimes for You’ by Deerhoof
from the album Deerhoof vs. Evil