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Newsletter for January 3, 2011: Throw the House Out the Window
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In this week’s archive edition, we consider alternatives to the word “retirement.” We also discuss “swan song,” “bike-shedding,” “tohubohu,” “criteria,” and how to pronounce “crayon.” Listen here:


It’s almost here! The granddaddy of all word-of-the-year selections, the American Dialect Society’s 21st annual vote, happens Friday in Pittsburgh. Grant, who is a vice president of the society, will be there.

Some observers are betting on the word “junk,” as in “don’t touch my.” But as Grant told the San Diego Union-Tribune, he doesn’t think “junk” has a snowball’s chance:


Meanwhile, if there’s a Dictionary FAIL of the Year, it’s probably the one sent to us by listeners Julio Diaz of Tijuana, Mexico and Dan Henderson of Sunnyvale, Ca.


Sending your children to Mandarin classes is trendy these days. But New York Times columnist Nick Kristof, who’s fluent in Chinese, makes a powerful argument that it’s smarter to make your children learn Spanish first.


BEHIND THE SCENES: Martha is newly besotted with sunny Uruguay, where she’s vacationing with la familia. New Year’s Eve there gave her a whole new understanding of the Spanish phrase “tirar la casa por la ventana.” Literally, it’s “to throw the house through the window”–in other words, “to have a blast.”

We’ll be back with new episodes of our show in two weeks!

Hope your year is off to a great start,

Martha and Grant
Co-hosts of “A Way with Words”

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