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Colorful, Clownish, and Extremely Smelly

Hi-ho! Here's another newsletter from A Way with Words.

Over the weekend listeners coast-to-coast got an earful about "druthers," "to vet," "stingaree," "beck and call" and more. Catch up here:


Martha's dropped a pleasant minicast on the hoopoe bird, that colorful, clownish, extremely smelly bird — with a likely linguistic connection to defrauded hedge fund investors.


Henry Alford, who writes for the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and the New York Review of Books, wrote to remind us about "A Search for Wisdom from Old People (While They Are Still on This Earth)." This highly charming and funny book was named "best book of the year" by Publisher's Weekly. You can find more out about it at his web site, where you'll also find great anecdotes from elders:


National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" asked Grant to comment on the new words coined based on the name "Barack Obama."


Grant was in San Francisco this past week at the annual conference of the American Dialect Society where, finally, they held the long anticipated vote on the word of the year. It's "bailout." Boring! But some of the runners-up were not:


Ben Zimmer at Visual Thesaurus has a report on the vote, as well as some video of the runoff.


Elsewhere, Mark Peters has a column at "Good" magazine about linguistic reduplication, which means he's writing about words like "mumbo-jumbo," "heebie-jeebies," "night-night," and "brouhaha."


Mark has also started a new weblog, called "The Rosa Parks of Blogs" because it features "absurd comparisons by real people using famous people." The Kate Winslet of trees? The Gabe Kaplan of fictional chest hair? What?


Finally, what do you know about dog language? That is, language about dogs? Well, Alex MacLeod has whipped up a web site about "Dogs in Metaphor and Idiom Illustrated." One warning: the intro has loud audio of dogs barking! Which, admittedly, can be a nice sound, but it might also sound startlingly like the hounds are chasing a fox through your foyer. Here it is:


That's all from your radio pals.

Best wishes,

Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett

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