This past weekend, we re-aired an episode you may have missed. Among other things, we talked anatomical eponyms in medicine, such as Achilles heel and fallopian tubes, which are being phased out; litotes, which use negatives to say things that are positive; and why we keep mentioning nuts when we think people are less than sane.
• A listener from North Carolina asked about a word that sounds like “gee moh netti,” so we whipped up a blog post about the whole class of related mild oaths, including jiminy, jiminetty, criminy, and crimanetly. “Since all of these mild ejaculatory oaths occupy more or less the same lexical space, they also do a fair amount of cross-pollination and hybridization. Folks mix and match to make new, even more oath-tastic forms.”
• Take a look inside the world of the dictionary-maker Merriam-Webster, and its culture of office silence.
• A fabulous letter to a young Maurice Sendak from his book editor.
The more you put down the better and I’ll be glad to see anything you want to show me. You referred to your “atom’s worth of talent.” You may not be Tolstoy, but Tolstoy wasn’t Sendak, either. You have a vast and beautiful genius. You wrote “It would be wonderful to want to believe in God. The aimlessness of living is too insane.” That is the creative artist—a penalty of the creative artist—wanting to make order out of chaos. The rest of us plain people just accept disorder (if we even recognize it) and get a bang out of our five beautiful senses, if we’re lucky.
• Beautiful superhero typographic classifications, such as Hulk as “slab serif” and Thor as “blackletter.”
When we launched the new website, we also launched a couple of “affiliate” stores, one with A Way with Words-branded T-shirts, tote bags, mugs, and more, and another with books and music. A portion of each sale goes to support recording more episodes of the show. Don’t you think you should have one of these T-shirts?
Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett
co-hosts of A Way with Words
Photo of the lead type by Andre Chinn. Used under a Creative Commons license.