It’s another A Way with Words newsletter!

This past weekend’s episode was a rebroadcast, which we named “Pickles and Ice Cream.” English speakers use those two when they want to compare two things that don’t go well together. We also talked about:

  • SlushPile Hell‘s grumpy responses to query letters from hopeful authors.
  • Why piggy banks had that name before there was anything porcine about them.
  • Wind-pudding and air sauce and other not-food menu items.
  • Lots more…

The next episode to be broadcast will be brand-new!

Keyboard Food: Language Titbits

• The American Dialect Society chose “occupy” as its 2011 word of the year. Now we don’t have to think about “of the year” anything for another ten months or so. See all the winners going back to 1990. Related: Merriam-Webster lexicographer Kory Stamper writes about the self-loathing and weltschmerz of the word-of-the-year season. And Grant made Ryan Gosling “hey, girl” pictures for some of the words.

• Bacon! Lots and lots of bacon-flavored language, plus bonus pork-related words, and some evidence that what most Americans know as bacon (what the British might call “streaky bacon”) didn’t become canonical until after the 1940s. The post is from Homewords, the blog of linguistics professor Allison Burkette.

• Another new blog to follow is Psycho Babble by Jessica Love of The American Scholar. In her latest post, she writes about names, including why other people’s names are hard to remember and how our names often guide our life choices

• Help a scholar out! Sepideh Gholamrezaee in Iran needs to have a bunch of native English speakers rate the appropriateness of different ways of refusing to do something or declining an invitation. There are a lot of questions, but just think how interesting the results will be — you might learn nice ways of telling the boss that, no, you won’t agree to stay late tonight. Answer her questions here.

Sincerely yours,

Martha and Grant

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