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Riddled Through with Riddles

Greetings, friends, and be welcomed to another newsletter from A Way with Words, public radio's show about words and language and how we use them.

Riddles flew through the air during this past weekend's show, as we shared some riddles from days long gone. We also talked about "go commando," "my dogs are barking," the suffix "-gate" from "Watergate," and orientate vs. disorientate.


There was no minicast this week, but we've got a slew of news stories that we think will interest you.

In the Hartford Courant, Rob Kyff has a laugh at misplaced modifiers like, "Smith had a suspended license and marijuana in his bloodstream at the time of the crash."


Find out what Virginia Woolf and John Steinbeck sound like. They're part of an audio collection from the British Library, called "The Spoken Word: British Writers," which was discussed and played on NPR's All Things Considered this week.


Computerworld tries to find out why some computer-related terms can be found in dictionaries and others cannot--and they find out that "eight-track" never made it into some dictionaries because the technology was too short-lived.


We almost never resist linking to Jan Freeman in Boston Globe because she writes with equal parts of good sense and sly wit. This week she takes on "feel badly" vs. "feel bad," saying, in part, "I would wager my rapidly dwindling net worth that no native speaker of English has ever misunderstood 'I feel badly' as a statement about the sense of touch, but this witless joke won't die."


We've been meaning to point this out for a while. John Sakamoto of the Toronto Star collects newly invented or freshly found words every week. You can catch links to the last four or so of his installments at Google News:


And, finally, the Miami Herald's "Herald Hunt" is finished for the year. It's a puzzle-based treasure hunt that brings in familes, students, and people from across the country to solve the puzzles and win the prizes. See what they solved here:



Happy hunting,

Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett

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Further reading

At First Blush (episode #1529)

Book recommendations and the art of apology. Martha and Grant share some good reads, including an opinionated romp through English grammar, a Spanish-language adventure novel, an account of 19th-century dictionary wars, and a gorgeously illustrated...

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