From a certain point of view, re-running episodes is like putting on a favorite pair of jeans.

But this past weekend we pulled on our favorite tutus and re-aired “Why Do Girls Wear Pink?” It’s the one where Grant recites a few lines of Sir Mix-A-Lot. Oh, and the one where we look into “gazumping” — it’s not as fun as it sounds if you’re the one who’s been a gazumped. Listen to the whole episode online, or download the MP3.

The week before that we re-aired “Books With a Letter Missing,” where, among other things, we talked about how shambles used to refer to a butcher’s bloody bench. Listen online or download the MP3.

This weekend, get jacked up for a brand-new episode!

Language Noodles

• Gestures might seem like they’re outside of our areas of interest, but they are about communication, right? A long essay in Lapham’s Quarterly by Anita Okrent digs deep into the history and study of human gesturing. (You’ve heard us mention Anita before: she’s the author of the book, In the Land of Invented Languages.)

In her essay, she writes that

“[Gestures] can be remarkably durable over time. The gestures we inherited from the Greeks and Romans are much more immediately identifiable today than are the words we inherited from them. The digitus impudicus that Romans insulted each other with is the same digit we use for that purpose today (and while the phrase “digitus impudicus” takes some education and background to decipher, a display of the “impudent finger” does not).”

The New Yorker slums with an article baby name trends, and points out that while the name “Noah” thrives, the names for his sons — Shem, Ham, and Japheth — “still, after all these millennia, haven’t caught on in America.”

• Pulitzer-Prize-winner Jennifer Egan is tweeting her new book. The New Yorker has collected the tweets so far published.

• And why not make it a New Yorker three-fer? “In Search of the Perfect Pencil Point” introduces us to David Rees, author of How to Sharpen Pencils, which writer Mary Norris calls “one of very few books worthy of the dual category ‘Humor/Reference.'” Rees offers “artisanal sharpening of No. 2 pencils: for fifteen dollars, he will hand-sharpen your pencil and return it to you (along with the shavings), its point sheathed in vinyl tubing.”

Grant’s son Guthrie would give at least that much to be able simply be allowed to sharpen a whole box of pencils, one after the other, down to nubs.

Martha Public Radio

This week Martha was joined by our lexicographical and linguistical buddy Ben Zimmer on Minnesota Public Radio’s The Daily Circuit, where they talked about language trends. Listen here.

Peace and love,

Martha and Grant

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