Welcome to another edition of the A Way with Words newsletter!
On the air this past weekend we chatted with listeners about the driving games "padiddle" and "slug bug," about the pronunciation of "aunt," about the pastry called the "bismarck," and we had a follow-up on the word "biffy" as a name for a portable toilet. Listen here:
We also talked with a Hoosier who says her friends tease her about the way she says "doofitty" when she can"t think of the right word for something. Grant and Martha discussed the long list of linguistic placeholders, including "whatchamacallit," "doodad," "deely-bobber," "doowanger," "doojigger," "doohickey," "thingamabob," "thingummy," "thingum," and "thingy."
The big news in the AWWW library this week is that Martha and Grant will be participating in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament February 29-March 2. New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor and NPR puzzlemaster Will Shortz has invited Grant to jointly give the championship play-by-play with crossword constructor Merl Reagle. He's also asked Martha and Grant to present prizes at the awards banquet. The tournament has become so huge that this year it will be held in larger quarters in Brooklyn, New York. Sign up to play here:
We'll also be talking more about this later: Martha and Grant will be participating in National Grammar Day on March 4th. Martha Brockenbrough is one-woman powerhouse behind both it and its key sponsor, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar. See what she's arranged and get involved:
You know Grant is a papa to a ten-month-old boy--he says having a child is like falling into a hole you don't want to get out of--so nothing could please him more than having an article about the lexicon of daddydom like the one Mark Peters has composed. Mark writes a regular column on language for the parenting web site Babble. Read the column here:
There's another writing community that we'd like to point out: Write Stuff, where a team of writers posts its collective thoughts and tales. We especially liked Janie's story of unexpectedly finding her mother's World War II scrapbook about her parents' courtship. There's also "Bright Stuff," which is a regularly occurring writing prompt. There are more than 340 of these so far, each one intended to give you the seed of an idea that you can nurture into a full story. Go back to the beginning to find gems like "I can prove that vampires exist."
Find the Write Stuff community here:
From deep inside the fort we've made out of our unabridged dictionaries, that's all for this week.
Your radio pals,
Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett