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More than Four Seasons

Hayley, a poet, grew up in Kansas City, then moved to Minnesota’s Twin Cities. After the last two winters there, she’s begun to wonder: Have English speakers ever referred to more than four seasons in English? Do other cultures measure...

With Bells On

Ryan in Ketchikan, Alaska, reports that a couple of friends told him they’d attend his new gallery exhibition with bells, meaning they would be there “with great enthusiasm.” The far more common phrase is to be there with bells on...

Haven’t Grown Gills Yet

Kamela works as a nurse in Anchorage, Alaska. When she asked a patient how how he was doing post-surgery, the man responded with Well, I haven’t grown gills yet. It’s a jocular way of acknowledging that although he hadn’t recovered...

Stop Wooling Me!

Tabitha from Palmer, Alaska, remembers her mother used to exclaim Stop wooling me!, a phrase used in parts of Appalachia, the Southeast US, and the Ozarks to mean “stop bothering me,” “stop roughhousing,” or “stop...

Language in Petersburg, Alaska

When Therese moved from New England to Petersburg, Alaska, she heard a rich mixture of language that arose from the Tlingit people who live there part of the year, the Norwegians who immigrated there, and a thriving fishing industry. So you might...

Don’t Get Into Any Jackpots

Ron, who lives in North Pole, Alaska, is curious about an admonition from his mother: Don’t get into any jackpots. This expression, which dates back to the 1800s, refers to getting trapped into adding bets to a round of high-stakes poker...