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Oh My Lady Gaga

It’s another newsletter from “A Way with Words.” Woot!

In last weekend’s episode: Is it wrong to type two spaces after a period? We arm-wrestle over that, and talk about the odd language in “True Grit.” Also, “shut your pie-hole,” Southern Grammar, the phrase “Oh my Lady Gaga,” and the town of Podunk. It’s here:


We’ve been deluged with requests for the love poem Martha read on the show this week. It’s by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Here’s the original, with an English translation by Mark Eisner.


Here’s a lovely audio rendering of the Spanish.


We’re told that at the Grammys, Cee Lo Green, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the Muppets stopped the show with a tune bearing the bowdlerized title, “Forget You.”

Earlier, the Philadelphia Inquirer asked whether the song’s popularity means profanity has found mainstream acceptance. The so-called “dirty-word watchers” interviewed include linguist Geoffrey Nunberg and, of course, our own Grant Barrett.


Oh, “bowdlerized”? It’s an eponym.


If you haven’t been on our Facebook page lately, you’re missing some interesting conversations about “Black Irish” vs. “Melungeons,” and why wheat, rice, corn, rye, barley, millet, quinoa, and other grains don’t have a final “s,” but the word “oats” does. And yes, we’re doing our darnedest to avoid saying, “Food for thought.” (Oops.)


BEHIND THE SCENES: If you’re in San Diego and you’re a fan of spelling bees, mark Thursday, Feb. 24 on your calendar. We’ll be participating in one, sort of. For a worthy cause. Details to follow next week!

<3, Martha and Grant

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