You’re in a business meeting. Is it bad manners to take out phone to send or read a text? A new study suggests that how you feel about mid-meeting texting differs depending on your age and sex. Grant and Martha offer book recommendations for readers and writers on your gift list. And why do people from Boston sound the way they do? Plus, how translators translate, sky vs. skies, caboose vs. crummy, gentleman cows, orey-eyed, and an entire rap song without the letter E.

This episode first aired December 14, 2013.

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A new study finds that 20-somethings think it’s okay to text and read emails during meetings, and men are more likely than women to approve.

Orey-eyed, meaning “enraged,” comes from the Scots language. Orey dates at least as far back as the 1700s, and has meant many different things, including “drunk,”

A TV meterologist in Morehead, Minnesota wonders about the word sky. Is it incorrect to use it in the plural? We often refer to the skies over a large area, as in the skies over Kansas.

This week’s quiz from John Chaneski is a fill-in-the-blank game.

How do translators of literature decide which words to use? B.J. Epstein, a Chicago native now living in the UK, is a translator with an excellent blog on the subject called Brave New Words.

You think you look sexy saying Cheese! as a photographer snaps away? Better yet, try cooing Prunes!

Train conductors sometimes refer to the caboose as the crummy. The name may derive from the idea of crew workers leaving crumbs and other garbage all over the back of that last care. Gandy dancers are railroad maintenance workers whose synchronized movements while straightening tracks resemble dancing.

E.B. White knew a thing or two about artfully declining an invitation.

The word doppich means “clumsy or awkward” is used primarily in Southeastern and South Central Pennsylvannia, and goes back to a German word for the same. Another handy word with Pennsylvania Dutch roots: grex, also spelled krex, meaning “to complain.” Speaking of the language of that area, Grant can’t wait to get his hands on Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels.

For this year’s holiday book recommendations, Grant goes with his son’s current favorite, Valley Cats by Gretchen Preston, while Martha enthusiastically recommends Quack This Way, a transcribed conversation about writing and language between Bryan Garner and David Foster Wallace.

The stereotypical Boston accent is non-rhotic, meaning it drops the “r” sound. Before World War II, such lack of rhoticity was considered prestigious and was taught to film and radio actors to help them sound sophisticated.

Is it okay to use the term hospitalized? A journalist says a professor taught him never to use the term because it’s unspecific and reflects laziness on the part of the writer.

Andrew Huang of Songs To Wear Pants To has met his listeners’ challenge and written a rap song without the letter “E.”

A caller from Amherst, Massachusetts, says that her grandmother, born in 1869, never called a bull a bull, but instead simply called it the animal. This kind of euphemism, along with gentleman cow, supposedly helped avoid the delicate topic of the bull’s role in breeding.

This episode is hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, and produced by Stefanie Levine.

Photo by jules:stonesoup. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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