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Butter My Biscuits

Well, look what the cat dragged in! It’s another newsletter from A Way with Words.

Given how often we talk about food words, we should write a cookbook. For example, this past weekend’s show was a leftover — a rebroadcast, a rerun, a re-airing, whatever you want to call it — that included a call about golden cathead biscuits. Listen to the whole episode here.

These are cathead biscuits, by the way:

(Photo courtesy of a3p601. Used under a Creative Commons license.)

Here’s a recipe for Appalachian Cathead Biscuits. You should make those right now and invite us over when they’re ready.

Language News Blips

• Everyone’s been sharing this video featuring the history of the English language in about 11 minutes from Open University. Cartoons and wacky narration!

• Should one ever mix Greek and Latin roots together in the same word? Well, Stan Carey says that kind of tuber salad is just fine.

• At the Wall Street Journal‘s Style & Substance blog, Paul Martin says “they and their haven’t become fully acceptable as referents for singular nouns.” Does “full” mean 100% adoption? We ask because find it perfectly acceptable in all kinds of speech and writing. He also states WSJ policy on what constitutes a “double-dip recession” and has two great headlines to share.

At Blogher, Julie Ross Godar has a stellar post with gifts for grammar geeks. Air quote mittens, a pilcrow necklace, books, posters, games, and more.

Behind the Scenes

You know that we have a couple of amazing quiz guys, right?

There’s Greg Pliska, who’s not only a puzzler but an award-winning composer. Greg has a new musical venture starting soon.

And there’s John Chaneski, whose second life is as a comedian.

John has also has a new venture: he’s part of a team of funny folks who’re developing a new show for NPR called “Ask Me Another.” It’s like our quiz segments, but longer, scripted, and it even has some acting.

John and the other pros are recording another pilot episode tonight in Brooklyn, New York, to a sold-out house. And to top it off with a coincidence, our intern James Ramsay will be a contestant on the show.

Break a leg, you two! We’d love to be back-to-back with the new show on public radio schedules all across the country.

May the best grammar win,

Martha and Grant

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Further reading

Blue Dolphin (episode #1634)

How can you kick the verbal habit of saying you know and um so many times in a sentence? For one thing, get comfortable with pauses. There’s no need to fill every silence during a conversation. Also, a doctor who treats patients in Appalachia...

Catillate, Agelastic, and Latibulate

Inkhorn terms are bloated, fancy, show-off words formed by cramming Latin and Greek roots into English. The name references little bottles made from animal horn that 14th-century English scribes used to carry their ink. Lexicographer Henry...