In this week's archive episode: do you think the Associated Press Stylebook is too stuffy? Then you'll love Fake AP Stylebook, the online send-up that features such faux journalistic advice as "The plural of apostrophe is 'apostrophe's.'" We share some favorite "rules" from that guide.
Also, is it wrong to say "a whole nother"? Quiz Guy John Chaneski stops by with a tricky puzzle about Tom Swifties. We also discuss the irony in the names of so many office parks and apartment buildings. Ever notice how many are named after landscapes and wildlife that are nowhere to be seen?
In that episode a caller from Upstate New York wanted to know a good word for the sound of the wind whooshing through the tall pines. We offered "sursurration," but lots of you wrote in to suggest "soughing," which also works.
It has two different pronunciations, rhyming with either "plowing" or "buffing." Then again, Kathy Peterson sent us an entirely different suggestion. "The sound the man described of the wind blowing through trees is called 'wood winds.'" Ouch. Why didn't we think of that?
Also this week, listener Dianne Suozzo emailed this question: "As we were camping with a large group last weekend, the question arose about a phrase: Is it 'one fell swoop' or 'one felt swoop'? And why?"
Well, Dianne, whichever of your fellow campers said "felt swoop" must buy the next round of marshmallows, because the correct answer is "fell swoop."
The "fell" in this case is an adjective that means "inhumanly cruel," and is a linguistic relative of "felon." Shakespeare used "one fell swoop" in Macbeth, evoking the way a falcon suddenly swoops down from the sky, striking with cruel, swift ferocity.
In happier news:
If you're a fan of AMC's "Mad Men," you'll want to read New York Times language columnist Ben Zimmer's piece about the painstaking efforts of that show's creators to avoid linguistic anachronisms. Zimmer reports that they go to great lengths to make sure they don't put post-1960s words into the mouths of their characters. More about the show's "festival of nitpickery" here:
If you're a fan of Franz Kafka, you'll be glad to know that a long-running, literary legal dispute of, well, Kafkaesque proportions has ended. A judge ruled last week that the contents of four safe-deposit boxes of the author's papers, stashed and sealed in a Swiss bank, must be made public.
We've followed this dispute ever since reading the fine book, "Kafka's Last Love," by Kathi Diamant. Kathi's a familiar face to viewers of KPBS-TV here in San Diego, where she's hosted and reported many programs. She's also a dogged independent researcher who uncovered lots of new information that had eluded Kafka scholars for decades. More about her research and the battle over Kafka's papers from this week's Time magazine:
More about "Kafka's Last Love" and San Diego State University's Kafka Project here:
Finally, if you're a fan of San Diego's famous Wild Animal Park, you've probably ridden the five-mile monorail known as the Wgasa Bush Line. But did you know that the name of the monorail has a surprisingly naughty origin? The Voice of San Diego recently checked out the story, and found it wasn't a linguistic urban myth.
Have firsthand information about a similar story? Send it along! email@example.com
Behind the Scenes: If you're a tennis fan, you'll be interested to know that Martha's been swatting up her pronunciation of names like Zvonareva and Kuznetsova. This weekend, she'll be the on-court announcer for the featured matches at the Mercury Insurance Open, a top-tier women's tournament located at the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California. If you're there, do say hello. More about the tournament here:
Martha and Grant