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Not the Sharpest Pickle in the Jar

Lots of things happening in Language Land these days!

First, we were amused by the New York Times’ blog post titled, “Iceland Volcano Spews Consonants and Vowels.” We’ll say!


Speaking of the word “blog,” Grant is conducting an online survey about how folks use the word. Is the word “blog” a single web site post or entry, a whole web site, or both? Tell us what you think here:


Meanwhile, on last week’s show, we discussed “full-deckisms,” like “a few pickles short of a jar” and “two French fries short of a Happy Meal.”


Many of you wrote to share your favorite jocular expressions to describe someone who’s not playing with a full deck. Patricia wrote to “The icing has slid off her cupcake.”

And Tiffany wrote from Brookfield, Wisconsin, to say she’s partial to “the wheel is spinning, but the hamster is dead.” Evocative, but eeeuww!

Martha’s partial to the one from Raphael in Ontario sent us: “He’s not a returning Jeopardy champion.”

On that show, we also helped a caller figure out when the word “its” needs an apostrophe and when it absolutely should not have one; the unusual way some people pronounce the word “both,” and whether “that’s a good question” is an annoying phrase.

Also this week, Martha had a blast giving a lecture on “The Joy of Language” to a capacity crowd at UC San Diego’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.


If you’d like to have Martha or Grant come and hold forth in front of your group, drop us a line at words@waywordradio.org. Remember, Martha in SoCal, based in San Diego; Grant’s a NorCal boy now, residing in the Bay Area. If we can work in into our schedules, we’re happy to travel for public appearances.

Oh, and a note to our listeners in Texas. This coming Friday, April 23, from 2 to 4 p.m. CST, our broadcast affiliate KERA in Dallas will air a special two-hour edition of “A Way with Words” featuring a Texas-style roundup of calls from the Dallas and North Texas area.

We put this show together specifically to help KERA’s listener membership drive. So if you enjoy our show and plant to make a contribution to KERA, you can get twice the bang for your buck if you donate during that special pledge edition of our show.

First, you’ll help to support your local public radio station. Second, you’ll be letting KERA know that you enjoy lively, informed conversation about words and how we use them! What could be better?

Actually, you’ll get three times the bang for your buck, because you’ll earn our undying gratitude. If you do donate to KERA during that time, let us know, so we can thank you personally.

Don’t forget your contributions to “A Way with Words” are tax-deductible, as well:


Keep those cards and letters coming!

Best wishes and toodle-pip,

Martha and Grant

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