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Helter-Skelter Reduplicatives

Jerrell in San Antonio, Texas, is curious about the term helter-skelter, meaning “haphazardly.” English is full of such reduplicatives, also called rhyming jingles, flip-flop words, or echo words. They fall into three categories: one...

Episode 1527

Had the Radish

Your first name is very personal, but what if you don’t like it? For some people, changing their name works out great but for others it may create more problems than it solves. And: at least three towns in the U.S. were christened with names...

Appalachian Dialect Affirmed

Tennessee lawmakers have passed a resolution affirming that Appalachian English is a “fully legitimate dialect and most deserving of the respect afforded other dialects of American English.” This is part of a complete episode.

Episode 1516

Train of Thought

Chances are you recognize the expressions Judgment Day and root of all evil as phrases from the Bible. There are many others, such as the powers that be and bottomless pit, which both first appeared in scripture. • There’s a term for when the...

Episode 1515

Colonial English

The anatomy of effective prose, and the poetry of anatomy. Ever wonder what it’d be like to audit a class taught by a famous writer? A graduate student’s essay offers a taste of a semester studying with author Annie Dillard. Also, what...