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Vowel Mergers

A Dallas, Texas, caller says his girlfriend from a rural part of his state has an unusual way of pronouncing certain words. Email sounds like EE-mill, toenail like TOW-nell, and tell-tale like TELL-tell. These sounds are the result of a well-known...

Chicanery

How do you pronounce chicanery? Do you soften the a, as in Chicano? No! This term, meaning “trickery” or “disturbance of the peace,” is etymologically unrelated to Chicano. It is, however, a linguistic relative of the name of...

Grammatical Diversity

Regional grammar can be just as rich and diverse as regional vocabulary. The Yale Grammatical Diversity Project has picked up on all the variations in American English usage and plotted them on a Google Map. Turns out that double modals and the...

Grant’s Dictionary Recommendations

If you’re looking for dictionary recommendations, you’ve tuned to the right program! For comprehensive, desk-dwelling dictionaries, Grant likes the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 6th Edition, a two-volume set, and the brand-new...

Learned vs. Learnt

Are we tested on what we’ve learned, or what we’ve learnt? Grant explains how efforts to replace the “t” verb ending with “ed” gradually took hold in the United States, but not in Britain. Affiliated nations, such...

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