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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...

Coalface

To be at the coalface means to be on the front lines–working at a practical level, rather than a theoretical one. The phrase is primarily British, and derives from the image of coal miners having direct contact with exposed ore. This is part...

Canadian Cop Shoe Phones

A caller from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, says that cops in Canada will often say to contact them on their shoe phones. The shoe phone comes from Maxwell Smart, the hapless hero of the 1960s sitcom Get Smart, who kept a phone on the sole of his shoe...

Yankee Dimes in a Culch Pile

Howdy! In this week’s episode of “A Way with Words,” we have a whole culch pile of conversation about Yankee dimes, hanging crepe, educational rubrics, and whether the language you speak influences how you think. Here ’tis:...