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Forward Pronunciation

Alex in Amarillo, Texas, says he often hears speakers dropping the sound of the first r in the word forward, sounding like foward or fuhward. It’s what linguists call dissimilation, where, when duplicate consonants are not far apart in a...

Episode 1528

Gift Horse

The edge of the Grand Canyon. A remote mountaintop. A medieval cathedral. Some places are so mystical you feel like you’re close to another dimension of space and time. There’s a term for such locales: thin places. And: did you ever go...

Student Pangrams

After hearing our discussion about pangrams, those sentences that contain every letter of the alphabet at least once, a middle-school teacher in Bishop, California, assigned her students to write some. They’re great! This is part of a complete...

Episode 1526

Abso-Bloomin-Lutely

The autocomplete function on your phone comes in handy, of course. But is it changing the way we write and how linguists study language? Also, suppose you could invite any two authors, living or dead, to dinner. Who’s on your guest list and...

Sailing Slang and Jargon

After hanging out with San Diego sailing enthusiasts, Martha picked up several bits of slang and jargon. Catenary describes the desirable curve of an anchor chain, from Latin catena, meaning “chain.” A chain that is not pulled up...