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Help Writing Historical Fiction Right

Judy in Fort Worth, Texas, is writing some historical fiction. What are some tips for representing the dialect and vernacular of a particular time and place with accuracy? One great resource is the Dictionary of American Regional English. Another...

The Coffee “Is All”

Kathy in Rye, New York, used to live in Central Pennsylvania, where she was surprised by a friend announcing The coffee’s all meaning “The coffee’s all gone.” This phrase is a vestige of Pennsylvania Dutch, a dialect of...

Origin and Meaning of “Jawn”

When Audrey was growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the late 1990s, it seemed that everyone around her used the word jawn as an all-purpose substitute for other words, as in I took my jawn to the jawn and we had a bunch of jawns...

The Five-Minute Linguist

The 5-Minute Linguist is a book of short, accessible essays by linguists who answer the  questions they commonly hear from laypersons. For example, what’s the difference between a language and a dialect? What causes someone to have a...

Episode 1531

Loaded for Bear

One way to make your new business look trendy is to use two nouns separated by an ampersand, like Peach & Creature or Rainstorm & Egg or … just about any other two-word combination. A tongue-in-cheek website will generate names like...