Recently we talked about why some puns seem clever, while others fall flat as a pancake. Also, what’s the difference between “luggage” and “baggage”? What do you call someone who doesn’t eat fish? Plus, a royal quiz, “the die is cast,” “skyscraper,” and “egg on.”
Speaking of egging on, if there’s a slowpoke in your family, you’ll appreciate this cartoon sent to us by an Ohio listener named Sheri.
It’s filled with phrases to persuade someone to move a little faster. What’s your favorite phrase in this context? Tell us and maybe we’ll use yours on the air.
Which word in English has the most meanings? Simon Winchester, author of “The Professor and the Madman,” notes that “run” has surpassed “put” and “set” as the word in the Oxford English Dictionary with the longest list of definitions — 645 in all.
You can hear Winchester talking on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” about the word’s extraordinary numbers of meanings. He also elaborates on the passion of English speakers for this rich, rambunctious language of ours.
In a fascinating New York Times piece on bilingualism, cognitive neuroscientist Ellen Bialystok lays out evidence that speaking more than one language sharpens the mind.
Over on Slate, Noreen Malone uses way too many em dashes while trying to make a case against the em-dash. We happen to think the occasional em dash — strategically placed to mirror speech, mind you — can be a thing of beauty. What do you think?
BEHIND THE SCENES: If you listen to our show on KPBS in San Diego, you may have tuned in Saturday and wondered where the heck we are. We’re now on Sundays at 3 p.m., right after “Weekend All Things Considered.” The new KPBS radio schedule is here.
Martha and Grant