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Moist, Expresso Dating, and Dying Tongues

Bop-lop-a-boom-bop lop-bam-boom. It's another issue of the A Way with Words newsletter!

This past weekend we aired an episode in which a caller told us that she finds the word "moist" repugnant. She's not the only one!

We also talk about derogatory uses of "kumbaya," espresso vs. expresso, and dying languages.


Our colleagues at the blog Language Log have done a good bit of information-gathering about the phenomenon of "word aversion," including aversion to "moist." See their work here:


Join the Facebook group "I HATE the word MOIST":


On the show, Grant mentioned a 2004 New York Times Magazine article by Jack Hitt about dying languages. Jack writes, "In two generations, a healthy language--even one with hundreds of thousands of speakers--can collapse entirely, sometimes without anyone noticing. This process is happening everywhere."

Read the rest: http://tinyurl.com/2jw44u

We are pleased to have received in the mail two sample boxes of "Phenomenonsense Puzzle Cards" from Lea Redmond. She has made her own examples of the ever-popular word blends, in which two words are mashed up to form one, but she has gone a step further to draw illustrations, to print them on cards, and to bundle them into tins.

She ends up with things like the "narwalnut," a narwhal (a type of tusked Arctic whale) with the face of a walnut shell (or is a walnut with the horn and tail of a narwhal?). Our particular favorite is the "harmonicup": a coffee cup with rim made of a circular harmonica. Jigs and shanties will break out in the bistros!

You can find images of Lea's nifty cards and submit your own ideas at


That's all from the wordster front but don't forget that National Grammar Day is March 4th!


Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett

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