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Lurve a Librarian


Murphys and Melvins and wedgies, oh my! In this week’s archive episode, we talk about these and other terms for that cruel prank that involves a yank. Also, funny Facebook groups for grammar lovers, the difference between “bring” and “take,” and whether there’s a term for fitting the lyrics of one song over the melody of another, such as singing “Amazing Grace” to the tune of “Gilligan’s Island” and vice versa. The whole show’s here:


Remember last week when we wrote about “Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages,” by Guy Deutscher? Writing in his blog at The New Republic, linguist John McWhorter warns against reading too much into his idea that the language you speak shapes how you think. McWhorter also offers a lively argument that Yiddish is hardly a dying language, and, in the wake of Dr. Laura’s troubles involving “the N-word,” he demonstrates that it’s been used among black Americans far longer than you might guess.


Do you have a favorite librarian who deserves recognition? The American Library Association’s annual “I Love My Librarian” contest is accepting nominations through September 20th. Up to ten nominees will receive, among other things, a $5,000 cash award. As the ALA’s site notes, “There are nearly 123,000 libraries nationwide, and librarians touch the lives of the people they serve every day. The award encourages library users like you to recognize the accomplishments of exceptional public, school, college, community college, or university librarians.” Here’s a chance to give yours a well-deserved pat on the back:


BEHIND THE SCENES: We’re planning a special episode of “A Way with Words,” and we need your help. Our working title: “Save the Words.”

We want to hear from you about two kinds of words: 1) old words you’d like to see revived and preserved (“wittol”? “snollygoster”? “opsimath”?), and 2) words you’ve coined to fill a pesky gap in the English language.

Write to words@waywordradio.org and tell us why we need these words. Better yet, call us and leave a message in which you make your case for your favorite word: 1-877-929-9673. If your word is chosen, we’ll invite you to talk with us about it on the air.

Meanwhile, don’t forget that if you have a comment about language that just can’t wait, you can always send us a message on Twitter. We’re @wayword. And find us on Facebook, too: http://facebook.com/waywordradio

Counting the days until our new fall season begins September 24,

Martha and Grant

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Further reading

Go Bananas (episode #1600)

A caller wonders if she’s being hypersensitive about the way her boss addresses her in emails. Can the use of an employee’s first name...

Mal Comune Mezzo Gaudio

Anthony in Tallahassee, Florida, shares a favorite Italian saying, Mal comune mezzo gaudio, similar in meaning to the English proverb Troubles shared...

Beefed It (episode #1580)

The words tough, through, and dough all end in O-U-G-H. So why don’t they rhyme? A lively new book addresses the many quirks of English by...

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